I'm in a raiding guild... strictly on my own merits of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was dating a girl who happened to be neighbors with two of the guild members (including one officer). And then that guild got eaten up by a larger guild because another of our members happened to be married to one of their officers. No, I'm only in this guild because of my mad raiding skillz, and all that other stuff is inconsequential. At least that's what I keep telling myself when I cry myself to sleep every night.
When we raid, we cheat... a lot. I know this sounds bad, but I honestly don't think we are any different from 99.9% of other raiding guilds. I think cheating is the norm. In fact, in the "better" guilds (of which we aspire to be one), it seems that cheating is expected.
What do I mean by that? Well when you are in a raiding guild, before you come to a raid, you are expected to have already read up on all the boss encounters, have watched videos of others doing the encounter, understand all the strategies and nuances, and also have an add-on installed (Deadly Boss Mods) that will actually tell you to stop standing in the fire.
Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit cockeyed? Back in MY day, part of the enjoyment of playing video games, especially adventure / role-playing games, was to figure out the tricky parts for yourself; to see new things for the first time; to piece together how an encounter was supposed to function. You learned by doing; you won through intuition, deduction, reasoning, and generally paying attention. It was not unlike piecing together a puzzle.
There was a game I played as a very young kid (here we go, I'm going to date myself now) called Zork. Zork was a text-only game. (Stick with me here kids... "text-only" as in no graphics... you actually had to read everything and use your imagination. I know, bizarre. You would type in commands like "kill troll with sword" and the game would tell you the result of that action.) In Zork you would explore new areas, piece together clues and puzzles, and figure out how shit worked. And the satisfaction you got from actually solving the problem yourself was beyond compare! Now, it was possible to find cheats and cluebooks that would tell you how to solve everything, but no self-respecting gamer would ever do this. What would be the point? To prove that you can follow instructions?
This is kind of the same feeling I get in raiding. Last night we downed one of the Ulduar bosses for the first time (I forget her name; Areola or something like that). But there was very little challenge in actually figuring it out. It was just a matter of learning to execute the pre-planned strategy correctly. We had to change a few things around here and there before we got it right, but by and large we already knew what we were doing. We had already seen it done. We had ready about all the different boss abilities, the adds, the things to watch out for. We already knew all the tricks.
Somewhere along the way, someone came up with a unique suggestion that apparently wasn't in any of the strategies we had seen. (Something about stunning Feral Defenders; I wasn't paying close enough attention.) And not shockingly, everyone thought that was really cool that we came up with a strategy all our own, and it actually worked! That might have been the biggest sense of accomplishment for the whole night... because it was the one thing we actually earned ourselves.
In WoW, people are so wipe-averse that they completely miss the point of playing an RPG. The point is to explore, to learn, to use your mind and your imagination! But raiding is largely an exercise in how well you can follow instructions. There isn't any real challenge to it.
I mean, I'm still going to keep doing it. I'm just saying.