Classic WoW Loot Psychology
With Classic WoW comes more complex items and chaotic loot distribution. There is a greater variety in the types of effects, distribution of stats, and classes the items are viable for. A lot of powerful items drop, yet few carry instructions for who should have them. The players decide. There are different methods of loot distribution from Effort Points / Gear Points (EPGP) to Loot Council. Is there a perfect system for each raid of 40 members?
To give a rough approximation of the value of loot, think of 40 raid members with an average power level of 1. When an item drops and is given to a player, their power level could increase to 1.05-1.1. Their damage on the meters might move up 1 slot. Then again, they might die a few extra times and put out less. The vast majority of individual upgrades do not change the player experience much at all. You hit basically the same rotations as you gear up unless you change specs. You might look a lot cooler with those tier shoulders or that new weapon, though.
So what is the point and purpose of all these items from a gameplay perspective? How does a guild prioritize who gets what? The primary motivator is progression. To progress through the content and down bosses, the raid should be prepared and equipped to face them. If their gear is not up to par, they may fail even if they are executing the fight mechanics correctly. These fights are affectionately known as ‘gear checks’, where it is more about having the right people with the right equipment to win. Ragnaros, The Firelord is one such case. If the tank does not have sufficient fire resistance, they will be kicked into the air repeatedly and the team is toast. If the healers do not have sufficient potency and endurance, people will die. If the damage dealers do not bring enough to the table, many bosses will enrage and kill everybody.
Bearing this in mind, there is merit to discussion and debate regarding loot distribution. Most of us are adults now with a lot less free time than we had back in the vanilla days originally, so a more smooth and swift progression is helpful for this expenditure of our time. It should be noted, though, that progression is a raid-oriented endeavor, not a personal one. You can’t solo raid bosses in Classic. You need a team. So when another player of your same role gets an upgrade, the raid is strengthened and better equipped for progression, even if luck wasn’t on your side this round.
While characters and items may last for years, they are still temporary. While an item upgrade can enhance our power and may last for weeks or months, they get replaced by further content. It is not worth burning bridges with real people for digital items, much less ones with an expiration date.
Items we desire up for grabs before us. What does the mental progression of loot hunting look like? People place different levels of emphasis on it, but the process is fairly similar to the acquisition of new items in the real world.
First, there is desire. You want the item because it improves your character’s power, looks cool, and others can see it on you. When you’re facing the boss that drops the item, your excitement level is increased. Is it going to drop this time? Am I going to get it? Who else is going to roll for it? It isn’t as big of an upgrade for them!
Next, there is either satisfaction or disappointment. Seeing the drop is a rush, winning it adds to the thrill, and then you have a glow of pride equipping it and strengthening your character. If you lose and someone else gets it, there is disappointment and sometimes envy. This envy is often expressed openly, which can make the winner feel guilty about getting it. This will often cause a player to pass on items that would be a clear upgrade but are not seen as worth the social friction.
Finally, there is regression to your baseline. Win or lose, things go back to normal. The thrill of that fancy new item fades as other upgrades roll in and you become accustomed to your power level. Rather than be consistently thrown through the loops of this process, try to see the long game. Gear is going to come and go. Building a rock solid bond with your team is the real prize.
Classic WoW is as great as the people who play it. If the people improve, the game experience improves. If you treat others well, you improve their game experience. If you make a scene every time someone else gets an item that would be an upgrade for you, it shifts the whole morale and attitude of the team. Enjoy the upgrades you get, but don’t forget to be patient and kind to your comrades. They are the real point of value in this game.