Away From Reality

May 6, 2011

AFR #130 – An educational experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — tabulacandida @ 8:58 AM

<<First comic <Previous comic | Next comic> Latest comics>>

This one’s for everyone out there who’s been trying for School of Hard Knocks only to be frustrated by other players on your own side of the battleground.

There’s plenty of discussion about this achievement online and lots of people have pointed out what makes School of Hard Knocks a bad achievement.  To sum up:

– It encourages cooperation with the opposing team and competition against your own side.

– It gives people an incentive to be selfish and a disincentive to play as a team.

– It makes people focus on short-term goals that may not be the most useful thing in the battleground at that moment.

– It depends much more on luck than on skill.

– It gives griefers a whole new way to grief for a week.

– It annoys pvp-ers by flooding the battlegrounds with people who don’t want to be there, aren’t interested in playing the game, and have no incentive to follow the customs and rules of the battleground.

– It annoys non-pvp-ers by introducing them to the pvp aspects of the game in a way that is frustrating, aggravating, exposes them to the scorn and anger of experienced pvp plaers, and will probably convince them to never come back.

So I don’t imagine I have anything original to say about it, but if you’ll bear with me, here’s my take:

World of Warcraft is a game, an entertainment.  The point of entertainment is to make people happy.  Now, sometimes making people happy in the long run requires making them unhappy in the short term.  That’s something we all understand.  Return of the Jedi is such a great movie not just because our heroes triumph but because they triumph after coming back from so far behind in The Empire Strikes Back.  If Empire had ended with Han safe and sound, Vader defeated, Bobba Fett dismembered, and Luke calmly staring down the Emperor, Jedi would have been a very dull movie.  Giving people what they want with no struggle or cost is bad entertainment.

On the other hand, just making people unhappy so they can be relieved when it’s over is not good entertainment either.  Hitting someone in the face with a brick because it feels so good when you stop is not a fun game.  There has to be some balance between the pain and the payoff.

So, which is School of Hard Knocks– The Empire Strikes Back or a brick in the face?  For the answer, I think we can look to all the online discussion of the achievement.  From my unscientific perusal, there seems to be about a 90/10 split: 90% of people hate the achievement and just want to be rid of it, while 10% like it.  That’s 90% of people made miserable, which is a pretty hefty downside, but if the other 10% are really made happy by it, there might be a case in favor of the achievement.  So, are they?  Not from what I can tell.  In every place where I’ve looked– official discussion boards, blog posts, independent sites– everyone who has a positive opinion of School of Hard Knocks says essentially the same thing.  To paraphrase: “omg lol SoHK iz teh bestest achive ev4r cause im such a l33t pvp g0d go qq n l2pvp u newbzorz!!!!1!”  Smug is no substitute for happy, and if the only pleasure people find in an achievement is gloating over the misery of others, I don’t think it’s worth it.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, that’s 90% of the player base who think School of Hard Knocks is like getting hit in the face with a brick, and 10% who think it’s like watching someone else get hit in the face with a brick.  I really hope you’re listening, Blizzard– it’s time to chuck this brick out the window and come up with a better, more Empire-like achievement for Children’s Week.


  1. Get rid of it…?!? But… But… I just bought this new brick to hit you with, and everything. Awww.

    Comment by ~LC — May 6, 2011 @ 11:32 AM

  2. Hitting him on the face with a brick is my prerogative. 🙂

    Comment by Mrs. AFR — May 6, 2011 @ 6:31 PM

  3. Hitting me in the face with a brick? Good. Line on the left, one brick each.

    Comment by wowafr — May 6, 2011 @ 6:33 PM

  4. Thank you for making this! I hate Children’s Week. 😀

    Comment by Asenath — May 8, 2011 @ 1:27 PM

  5. Then once into the event if people dont work together the opposition will simply walk all over your team and render the desired achievement out of reach.

    Comment by business daily — May 14, 2011 @ 12:24 AM

    • I fully agree with this evaluation, however, I can’t see Blizzard making a change.

      Comment by Brick — May 17, 2011 @ 5:04 PM

      • I’m afraid you’re probably right. /sad

        Comment by wowafr — May 20, 2011 @ 3:34 PM

  6. I’m planning on turning my account over to my nephew when I *have* to do PVP for holiday achievements. For reasons that escape me and his dad, Nephew is very, very good at battlegrounds. Whereas I hate PVP because: it doesn’t make sense; nothing is ever accomplished by it, which doesn’t make sense (same bits of land have been contested for eight years now!); it does nothing to progress the story of the game, which doesn’t make sense; it’s beating up other players (or, rather, being beaten up by them while they dance on your just-resurrected-so-they-ganked-it corpse), which feeds ill will and bullying and doesn’t make sense; and it’s NOT FUN, which doesn’t make sense for a game.

    In short: I don’t get it. 😛

    Comment by ButMadNNW — July 26, 2013 @ 4:56 AM

    • I’m with you! Glad you have the nephew to fall back on.

      Comment by wowafr — July 26, 2013 @ 10:53 AM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: