Lying and the Raid

Please visit my research blog to participate in my latest poll:

Thanks to Raegx from Blood Legion (US guild) for suggesting our new poll (you can blame him, too, if you think it’s a bad idea)! I hadn’t thought about it before, but when he suggested it quite a few events came to mind that made me realise that it’s probably more prevalent than we might like to admit.Now, this poll is anonymous, so let’s see if you can be as honest as possible. But since it’s about lying… I’m guessing we might still lie about whether we’ve lied before! (Say that 10 times fast.)

So lying… unless you’ve been a character in that film ‘The Invention of Lying’, I think it’s safe to say you have lied before. Might not have been a big lie (‘No, darling, you don’t look fat in that dress.’) or even a lie that had no causal impact  on anyone but yourself (<to self> ‘I guess eating that 6th doughnut today can’t hurt me…’), but it’s possible you have said something which was contrary to reality or what you really thought/felt. Does this translate into the social environment of an MMO? Particularly in relation to raiding?

Lying may exhibit itself in the form of a brash show of bravado (<to the PUG raid leader>‘I have never made a mistake during a raid.’), to conceal–you hope–a flaw or mistake (<to your guild raid leader>‘I got a severe lag spike just then, that’s why I did not move out of the fire!’), or to avoid some responsibility or obligation (‘My Mum is telling me to help her downstairs’, ‘My dog is having her puppies’, ‘OMG, someone just broke into the house across the street!’, ‘I have a headache’.).

The tricky thing with lying of this sort is that these things can be embedded in reality and possibility: they CAN and do happen. I have had the situation where a sudden bang on my door told me that a car outside my house (not mine, thankfully) had just had its window smashed by a rock and I have had crazy computer issues where my system freezes up at the absolute WRONG time during a raid. Due to my particular attitude as a raider I’ve never been accused of exhibiting false bravado in relation to my raiding skill, but I’ve certainly seen and heard this type of assertion. Rarely is it backed up with actual proof. The ones with real skill generally don’t brag too much about their abilities, at least from my experience. After all, they can easily demonstrate it during a boss fight.

And then we have the other level of lying: what we choose to say to our fellow guild members and what pieces of ourselves we opt to exhibit. That’s not to say that being an extremely private person is lying, not at all, but sometimes a lie of omission can come up in relation to raiding. What I mean by this is that by leaving out key pieces of information about ourselves, we create a kind of fiction that could impact those we play with, even during raiding. Perhaps we don’t want people to know we’re playing on our grandmother’s computer from 1998 (hence why everything we type and do takes about 2 minutes to appear on the screen) or maybe we won’t get a spot on a raid if people know we live in an area where the internet connection drops every 23 minutes. And maybe when it comes to our social interactions we might have lied too: do you worry about beign accepted in a guild if they know you’re very young (under 16)? Have you claimed you’ll never leave a raiding guild while you’ve got an application in at another, better guild? Do you claim you’re a champion martial artist to impress your guildmates when in fact maybe you’ve just watched some on tv?

The art of lying in virtual environments is not new. We have an opportunity–to some extent–to create a persona for ourselves. We may want to appear cooler, more skilled, perhaps a better version of ourselves. But how can this impact raiding?

I can think of a few examples from my years in raiding guilds:

  • The player who used to fake a DC during the raid because he needed to walk his dog.
  • The player who alleged she had a serious medical condition for more attention from other players and her guild (sadly I’ve seen this happen several times) only to miraculously recover all of a sudden.
  • The player who lied about having a headache or some sudden obligation which required that she leave the raid, but really she couldn’t be a**ed to keep going.
  • The player who lies about their connection or lag because, as above, he did not want to keep going.

But is this so bad? I mean, doesn’t this happen sometimes in real life too? You’re having a horrible week, you need a day off from work just to clear your head. No, you’re not sick, but maybe you call in sick. I think more than anything this just illustrates that people perform the action of lying for different reasons and to different ends. And the raiding environment is not immune to this. Sure, some of the lies we may say can have a really strong emotional impact (especially when our lies are constructed to elicit an emotional response, like the serial flirt who wants to chat up every female gamer he can find and vice versa [yes, they can exist!]) and could negatively impact us, but I think a pattern of behaviour is often noticed by raiders and can be corrected in time. I think after a raider claims (for the fifth time in a row) to need to leave the raid due to a ‘bad headache’ after the group has wiped 43 times in a row, people will notice the pattern. Lying usually does have consequences, however, even in a raiding setting. In fact, I’d suggest that a serial case of lying can be noticed more easily in a virtual environment (due to how we can very easily hone in something when the other elements like body language and tone are stripped away) and can result in very adverse outcomes for the player caught in a lie.

The negative impact that lying can have on raiding is that it can diminish the value of certain pieces of information. I mean, do you ever wonder–in the back of your head–if RaiderDude is *really* having lag issues or just making an excuse for the fact that he’s too tired or has been on his phone talking to his girlfriend for the past 20 minutes. And that’s a shame because if RaiderDude is lying about having lag, when JoeRaider legitimately claims he has them, we might assume he’s lying too. In my discussions with top raiding guilds (including Paragon), they have an atmosphere where it’s ok and expected to admit that you’re too tired or unwell to raid. And by being honest with each other in that way, I think they get rid of these barriers to progress that other guilds might suffer from because we aren’t always being honest with each other. But honesty can get complicated when we’re lying out of guilt–like maybe we’ve lied about being too tired to raid because we did not want to let our guildmates down.

So, fess up. Have you ever lied in relation to raiding?


Very good read, makes me really appreciate the attitude our players have in the guild. Glad to have you back on the writing business Ladan.

Thanks, Xeno! Nice to be writing. It's been a while... had a bit of a month so far... glad you had a chance to read up. :)

This was a good read. It's something I've thought of quite a few times before. It's also something I've advocated for quite some time: if you feel you're playing like crap, just be honest about it. It just makes everything much easier and doesn't diminish the trust between you and the other players you're playing with.

The lying was way worse back when there weren't good enough tools for checking quickly who died to what. It's still pretty bad, even with those available and knowing anyone can check on what you died to.

Misinformation about these kinds of things just doesn't lead to anything good, I feel like.

Hey, thanks, Synti. Nice to hear from you, too!

I have often wondered if insecurity is a causal factor that plays into a tendency to lie/embellish/withhold information during or before a raid. But when I learned that successful guilds often just expect people to own up to how they are doing, I think it also suggests that the players have moved past a sense of insecurity about their own abilities and performance. After all, top athletes can have really bad days. I just have that image of the British marathoner Paula Radcliffe and her intense struggle (and failure) during the 2004 Olympics. She was definitely having a bad day that day; but I don't think it detracted from her overall status as a world-class athlete.

I dont lie during raid but I lie to real people so they leave me alone and I can raid :P