Wow is an immense game, a universe in and of itself with over Ten million players globally. With raid content so readily available to the player base, a large portion of that 10 million are raiders of some sort. You have the people that raid for eight hours a week, the ones that raid for twenty, and all the people in between. You might think that with such a gap between play styles, a difference in what raiding is to these people, and just having such a wide range of people, no raider has much in common with another. You're dumb if you think that, kay? All raiders, with the exception of sociopaths with no emotion, have a defining characteristic in common, they all have strong bonds with the people they raid with.
Lets take a look at raiding, what is it at it's core. It isn't killing bosses in a game, or getting shiny pixels to go on your shiny pixels, raiding is working as a team with however many people the instance or raid needs. You have to cooperate with your raid team to get anything done, and to get it done well. It isn't, "Okay, A go attack B while C and D help. E and F will heal you while G does some other thing over here with H to help". Raiding requires everyone to watch everyone else, to see if they are in trouble, to help them. If I'm not watching my dps to see if they pulled aggro, they might die, and in turn others might die, but if I only watch everyone else I'm not doing my job. So I trust, Trust the other people in my raid to perform how they should, and in turn I'm trusted to do the same. By having that trust while in a raid instance, you build bonds with people. If I know that Mr. Healer will keep me up with no problem, and can even help with CC or dps because he has the ability, I'm going to enjoy just talking to him, because he will be mature enough, and knowledgeable enough to hold a conversation. A dps that pulls high numbers, is raid aware, and is willing to sacrifice his E-peen to help the raid is someone I would love to be around, because he's going to be a cool person. Conversely, if I can't trust my raid members to do their job, or to help the raid, I don't give a rats ass about them. If they can't find it in themselves to do their best when it matters, how can I expect them to do anything when it doesn't? Some guilds only have ten or fifteen raiding members, some might have forty, but it all comes down to one thing: You are spending countless hours playing, talking and dealing with these people. You're going to build a relationship.In many cases, a very strong bond. You hear talk about how gamers don't have relationships, that we sit in a dark room and stare at a screen talking to people we've never met. But I ask people that don't raid, or don't game and interact with other gamers, when was the last time you spent twenty hours a week with nine other people that you trusted with one of your passions, and worked toward a goal that in and of itself promotes comradeship? You might call up a friend and go to a movie, that's fine, that's great, but you don't trust him or her as much as I might trust my tank that I know is a good player and person. You and nine friends go to a bar for someones birthday, awesome, give them some cake from me, but I doubt you've spend an upwards of fifty hours a week socializing, getting to know these people, and I know that you haven't spend countless hours with your these people, holding them responsible for what you do and do not accomplish.
To wrap up let me say something. I don't think that real-life relationships are meaningless, and I'm not saying you are incredibly close to all the people you raid with. If you have a friend you've known since you were six, I'm betting you like him more then the people you raid with, because you've known him for countless years. Also, if you've spent the last year with the same people for more hours a week then most working adults work, I bet you are closer to them than just your casual friend you might call up if you're bored and no-one is around. Raiding is not something that you do for three hours a day with nine or twenty-four other people, and then never talk to them again. It's a sport, a team sport that requires a coach in your ear and a captain at your side. You build trust, forge bonds, and make friends, friends that aren't limited by the Wow universe, and friends you plan on keeping even if you leave the game.
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/sigh loudly at a job well done