Is it possible to make broad generalizations from WoW? On the surface this seems possible, maybe useful. After all, WoW does cover a decently broad cross-section of the industrialized world. While it began with bored college students and perhaps the unemployed, it has grown to cover at least a little bit of every demographic (see imaginary citations for more details). There is of course the modifier of WoW being almost entirely anonymous; almost in that our characters may be remembered but there is no connection to our RL identities. But is this all that different than being in a crowd during a commute or at a concert? You're pretty much anonymous. However just as in real life, people online can increase their exposure to others, reducing the anonymity.
From this we could try to identify trends. Are we polite or rude? What triggers politeness or rudeness? How willing are we to help strangers?
Or take it further: how much do we seek to understand out world? I hold the theorycraft and testing of WoW to be the science of that world. The lore would not qualify as history since the past actions of NPCs have no use for deciding our own actions (for more explanation of this, go to the So What? part). However the history of guilds or dev decisions would be useful for predicting and adapting beforehand to changes.
How do we handle scarcity of resources such as mob spawns, resources, or random loot drops? Do we measure contribution by sheer time or do we include other factors such as consumables and previous effort to gear up in preparation? Or do we go by who would benefit most? Or do we use totally random systems such as rolls? Let's not forget the possibility of gold bidding systems (used in some high-end PUGs and from what I've heard: China) or oligarchies which hand out gear based on their whims (also known as loot councils).
Going back to knowledge: how ignorant are people? Do they know how to do their jobs (play their class/role)? Can the average person be trusted with your virtual life, both by intent to keep you alive and personal ability?
I said in a previous post that we may not give the player base enough credit. It's not as stupid and incompetent as we might perceive. However there is no denying that some players just have no clue and may take absolutely no actions to fix that. The melee hunters and one-dagger rogues and druids who go balance/feral for DPS. Would these be the idiots fired from McDonalds for incompetence and laziness? Are they the idiot coworker who ruins everything he touches? Or is there something else that I'm missing (or just not saying)?
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