Instead I want to talk about the care cup in normal times. I see two main areas of empty care cups: tabbed-out PvE and the auction house. In both instances, what might be otherwise intelligent and productive people are made significantly less valuable by their lack of caring and it hurts everyone around them. This is sounding emotional isn't it? I don't mean caring as an altruistic sort of caring, but instead seeing importance in something.
Why are we so often tabbed out, auto-attacking, /following, and generally barely even playing in PvE? The care cup is empty! A great deal of content has been trivialized, meaning that paying less attention isn't going to wipe the group. Perhaps more importantly: we are encouraged to do repetitive and trivial content (random heroics, the same raid trash we've cleared for months), and consequently are incredibly bored. We receive no internal benefit and we aren't externally punished. The care cup is empty, and understandably so!
I'm not sure what can fill it up. New content? We'd need to get it pretty quickly. I'll just leave this hanging here. Onward to the economy.
Earlier I advocated "killing the speculator", essentially paying greater attention to markets and pricing in order to maximize profits rather than leaving potential gold around for speculators to grab. I was intrigued by this comment:
Speculating and bragging about it is kinda dumb though. It's like kicking the ball into a net while people are lying on the grass reading or something and running around going I scored, I scored. Easy to make gold off people who don't give a rat's arse about playing Monopoly Online with you.Clearly what we can see is that enough people (most?) don't care much. The economy isn't the game they play. They raid or quest or farm, they don't think about numbers on the AH.
Obviously this makes them poorer than they would be otherwise. So they farm more, run more dailies, and hold off on buying that crafted epic and instead hope that it drops. The result is people in worse gear, and worse still, doing activities which might not be what they really want to do.
What can fill the care cup? Numbers, of course!
Let's consider the idea of "fun optimization", attempting to maximize total fun. Obviously fun isn't easy to quantify, but for the sake of thought, let's pretend it is. We do this frequently in real life when picking between activities. We go to one movie rather than another, we work. Yes, work is part of fun optimization. While the money->happiness conversion has diminishing returns, there are still obvious case when more money is more happiness.
Many people work crummy jobs. But they do not quit and become homeless, despite a job which reduces the happiness in their lives. Why not? Because the money they gain more than offsets it. Optimizing happiness (thought clearly not very well) has resulted in them keeping a bad job rather than live in a dumpster.
The concept of working in a game isn't an easy one to handle. It sounds wrong, doesn't it? But taking on a virtual job could be beneficial overall. I often hear people proclaim a distaste for the AH and the sub-games within it. They're not particularly rich in game and often find themselves doing something else that they also dislike. Yet the AH would tend to give a higher income, meaning they could 'work' less, possibly have more gold, and therefore their remaining time could be better overall.
Or to put it in terms of arbitrary numbers, let's imagine that I need 100g a day to offset repairs and flasks from raiding. On the side I like to PvP and am building a set with honor (this is just to cut off honor gems as a source of income). I currently spend one hour a day farming ore and sell the result for 100g by undercutting whatever is up. If I instead took a few minutes to see what the other auctions are and how ore is selling, I could get 25% more for my ore, meaning I can spend less time farming and more time PvPing. Accepting an unfun activity for a short time allows the elimination of a boring activity in favor of a fun activity.
Let's bring this back to the random heroics now. When I tab out my DPS drops in half, slowing the run significantly. However I'm not getting a proportional gain in happiness, since I'm still in this boring heroic with terrible DPS (they're tabbed out too and think I suck). The slower heroics make me even more inclined to tab out, slowing them further, and before long I've decided the solution is to only run with people who are so overgeared that even tabbed out their DPS is high. Of course I'm failing to recognize that the tabbed out overgeared person is still wasting time. Why not instead tab back in and burn through the instance in 10 minutes and go spend the extra 10 minutes I gained to not run boring heroics?
Empty care cups lead to empty care cups. Let us instead have our cups overflow and get drunk as hell!
Attempting to maximize fun shouldn't be confused with the mistaken notion that people who aren't playing the way I'd play must be having less fun and are therefore doing it wrong. Fun is a personal thing, so perhaps that apparent moron camping your alt for two hours is actually having tons of fun and would be stupid to do something else. He might still be stupid, but he's at least being rationally stupid.