I have been an avid World of Warcraft player for nine years. While it wasn’t the first online game I’ve played, it was the first that required a higher level of teamwork than others. One small mistake during a boss fight could lead to instant death. In the earlier iterations of the game, groups could be as large as 40 people and required investing hours of time to complete objectives. In the current expansion, Warlords of Draenor, one can have 10 to 30 people for Normal and Heroic difficulties, and 20 for Mythic (the hardest) difficulty. While the time invested today is significantly less, only the top players can receive the greatest rewards.
There is a huge gap between so-called “casual” and “hardcore” raiders—only 0.73 percent of players on American servers have killed the current end-game boss (Mythic Archimonde) and about a fifth of players have killed his Heroic counterpart. However, a group of players have banded together to get under-geared and casual players the reward for killing Heroic Archimonde: the Grove Warden mount. This leads to a very important question: can this effort bring back a sense of community to online gaming, which has been plagued by disdain for new players and harassment towards other groups of players?
#FriendshipMoose, a hashtag created by the community to help people get the mount, promises runs to gear people to item level 710, which is generally seen as the minimum acceptable item level for the Heroic Archimonde encounter. While many guilds sell the kill for at least 40,000 gold (some guilds have charged 100,000 or more gold for the encounter), those involved in Friendship Moose will be able to get the kill for free.
The effort spans both American and European servers on both factions (Alliance and Horde). “The plan is to get a group of high-geared, experienced individuals who are comfortable and willing to take groups of less experienced players through the fight to acquire the mount. To that end, we are reaching out to the community for experienced players who may be interested in helping out,” the organizers said.
“We will track interested individuals’ item levels and help them gear up throughout 6.2.3 until groups of workable compositions form. From there, runs of the boss will start, and we will form a core group of individuals who can take less experienced players through. To that end, the first attempt will likely not happen until January 2016, but it is expected that participants will work toward gearing up over the next few weeks (with the community’s help, of course!).”
500 people signed up on the first day of the #FriendshipMoose announcement. Those who signed up can choose three roles: tanking, where a character absorbs all damage instead of the group; healers, who restore all damage that the group takes; damage dealers (DPS), who damage the enemies. The signups are currently closed, but will reopen in the future. Can the movement bring back a sense of community to online gaming? It’s certainly one of the biggest efforts to do so, and it could bridge the gap between the hardcore and casual camps, and more importantly, blur the lines between the two. At the end of the day, we’re all gamers.