Society of the Winner
This post is about a way of thought. We used to live in a society that embraced challenges and overcame them, leading to winning. Winning was either itself the reward, or led to other rewards, but either way, winning was cheered upon—the winners were our heroes.
We now have a society where the concept of the “winner” is frowned upon. We want everyone to win. We want everyone at the competition to receive a shiny participation medal. We want everyone to feel as if they accomplished something great, even if they accomplished that which a handicapped 5 year old could have done.
You can think of this as the system of the winner versus the system of the masses. You can also think of this as capitalism versus socialism.
Class Hierarchy in Diablo 3
So how does this fit into Diablo 3? When it comes to obtaining wealth, the game itself is extremely capitalist, probably the most capitalist virtual economy so far to have existed. The free market economy allows the exchange of gold on a massive scale, the number of users and influx of gold is so great that the 15% tax does not curb trade, and the scale of money enough such that the 2 billion gold auction limit poses rarely, if ever, a limitation.
Unfortunately, along with capitalism comes winners and losers. The upper class players have hundreds of millions of gold, while the lower class, a much larger group, is working to make ends meet, to furnish their own repair costs. Yet the lower class makes all the wealth for the upper class, as it is the lower class that supplies the massive amount of gold into the economy and buys it off of people in the class above them, which chains eventually to the upper class.
The problem with Diablo 3 is that many of the lower class are pissed off about being in the lower class. They want to win too—they want everyone to win. This is where the class struggle is illuminated. In general it is the upper class who says the game difficulty is fine where it is. Some even say it is too easy. But in the lower class, page after page of threads are filled with the “It’s too hard” argument or something along those lines, sometimes presented in a logical fashion, more often in an emotion, rage-filled manner.
The Winner Is No Longer A Hero
The concept of the “winner” is indeed frowned upon by much of the player base. Those in the lower classes continually bash the super-wealthy players like Athene. They bash Kripparrian. They bash anyone who is more successful than they are, because they are used to a system where everyone who participates, wins.
It used to be that when presented with a challenge, we would try hard to overcome it. Now, we just blame someone else (the gold farmers), blame the system (the difficulty), or blame just about anything (there’s really a lot of examples). In fact, people have grown to cheer their own failures. It is now considered absolutely fine, and even wonderful, to have hit the Act 2 brick wall. Once a poster says he has hit the Act 2 brick wall, others will come in and start bashing the system with him.
Meanwhile, a few people who hit the Act 2 wall will read up on class guides, perfect their build, snipe deals in the Auction House, and and at the end of the day, progress. No complaining, no whining, no RMAH, no excuses. Inferno was made hard for the sake of being hard. And some people pulled it off, and are still pulling it off. That is embracing a challenge and overcoming it.
No, these guys who stood up against all odds and obtained victory—these guys are not celebrated as heroes anymore. They’re now considered to be elitists and no-lifers. It’s the whiners who complain about this and that being too hard—those people are the ones now celebrated as heroes. What has America become?