Top of the Totem Pole
Scorekeeping in WoW
by Amber "Aurael" Weldon
When I think of scoreboarding, my first thought is of arcade games--you know, those high scores at the end that allowed you to put in your initials so that everyone
who came to play the game after you left could see just how great DJW or ADI was. Gaming has come a long way since those Pacman days in the local pool hall.
Today's gamers have a much larger audience at their disposal for uber recognition. The face of scoreboarding has made some changes as well, at least as far as MMORPG's are concerned. It is no longer a numeric high score listed somewhere around the credits at the end of a game. A certain amount of reputation can develop among the players of massively multiplayer online games who defeat all odds to become the absolute best at what they do.
Now, when I speak of keeping score, I'm going to keep it in the context of what I am used to--namely World of Warcraft. There are various methods in which score is kept in WoW, some of which may not be recognized, at first, as a type of scoreboard.
In World of Warcraft there are several ways to prove your uberness. The most obvious, is by reaching the level cap of 60. It's often a race to see who can get to 60 first (between friends, between players in a guild, etc). Reaching 60, however, is only a step in the right direction. You can lord your 60ness over the lowbies who have yet to reach that coveted level, but you are not yet at the top of the WoW scoreboard.
It's All About the Gear
After you reach 60 the score-keeping changes. It's all about the gear, and there are different ways to get the uber gear. If you ask a person who the best player on a server is, they will most often look to the player who has the best gear. So in this way, the person who is the most decked out while strutting around Ironforge will be known as the best player on the server. But how is that gear obtained?
One way is for the player to become a merchant character, buying and selling items on the auction house until you have the money to buy that really great "bind on equip" gear that so often frequents the auction house at extravagant prices. This requires time, patience, and a lot of luck. However, several players have been able to deck themselves out quite well by playing the auction house.
Another way is to pvp your heart out in the three Azeroth battlefields, earning reputation with the respective factions and causing your honorable kill count (and thus your rating) to skyrocket. Blizzard even provides a handy dandy rankings page where you can check your ranking compared to anyone else on the server. This reflects back to those arcade days when the scoreboard was present for all to see.
A final way to gain reputation through good gear is to go through dungeons, doing some good, old-fashioned monster-slaying. Trudging long hours through many instances with twenty or forty members of your guild can bring you some great gear. This way is not for everyone though. Many people find that with raiding guilds comes confusing dkp systems, drama kiddies that love to argue about every single pull, drop and boss strategy, and the ever-present fear of a good guild breaking up, thus requiring the members to start over in a new high-end raiding guild that's full of the same problems as the first one. Therefore, those guilds that are able to keep it together and make it through the depths of Molten Core or the halls of Anh Qiraj provide their members with the ability to reach the top of World of Warcraft's player vs. environment scoreboard. They have the best gear and can brag about having defeated some of the most difficult monsters in the game.
Of course, because games like WoW are so massive, the fame that a player can receive can also be quite negative. In gaining notorious fame from an MMORPG, the forums, as well as the gameplay, play a big part. A few examples spring to mind when I think of notorious World of Warcraft players.
Leeroy Jenkins, of course, scores the highest on the DOH! list of WoW players. For those few that may not know, good ol' Leeroy decided to take on the whelp room of Upper Black Rock Spire all on his own. His guildies, seeing his hapless flight into the egg room, run after him to "help", thus causing the raid to wipe. A guild member just happened to be frapping (using a program to record the gameplay) the instance and posted it on a website. The rest is history. This poor sap is so notorious that he has been emulated in high school skits, on game cards, and even in a Jeopardy question.
A less-known example is the player from the Cenarion Circle server named Brion, upon whose actions coined the term "Briowned". He and his mother both play WoW and poor Brion posted on the forums one night way past his curfew. The mother, seeing the time that her son posted, tried to put some humor into the punishment. She posted in the same thread: "Pardon me for hijacking the thread, here. But, Brion - if you don't want your mother to know you were up and on the computer at 3:29 in the morning - DON'T post on a forum that she reads. Busted. Grounded." This shot Brion straight up to the top of the list of notoriously-known WoW players.
In conclusion, scorekeeping is much different in today's MMORPGs than it was way back in the days of arcade games, with fame no longer just being a number. The ability to become a well-known player of the game still exists, just on a much broader scope and through many different avenues.
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