Let's talk about Classical Conditioning, a behaviorist model of behaviorism psychology.
"It posited that behavioral tendencies are determined by immediate associations between various environmental stimuli and the degree of pleasure or pain that follows. Behavioral patterns, then, were understood to consist of organisms' conditioned responses to the stimuli in their environment. The stimuli were held to exert influence in proportion to their prior repetition or to the previous intensity of their associated pain or pleasure."
To put it simply, stimuli > response. Ghostcrawler is apparently taking the Classical Conditioning approach by taking blame for the player base's phobiaa of being "WRONG" when choosing our talents, creating inefficient specs that are not desireable to many raid leaders.
"But I do wish there was some way to turn around this virtual phobia of inefficiency -- this terror of being WRONG -- that we have managed to instill in our player base."
It looks like he is saying that the devs created the stimulus with their development choices, and the players' response to this, the response that is the safest and creates the greatest pleasure, is a community of players afraid to be wrong, to follow the tried and tested wisdom of "cookie cutter" specs, of raid leaders demanding X gear score and Y achievement in order to non-fail their way through a raid. We all know the behavior, we're familiar with it either because we see it constantly in trade chat or we've been subjected to such scrutiny ourselves. We can't deny that the min/maxing attitude has permiated into a majority of the player base at end game. In many it has created a phobia, a fear of being left out for choosing one talent over another, a fear of being WRONG according to those who have the power to decide such things (i.e. raid leaders).
I do not question whether or not the devs have created an environment condusive to these attitudes and behaviors, I think that Larisa has treated that subject nicely, as have many of her wonderful readers/commenters. Many agree that these attitudes have been around for a long time, and there are many factors which led to them. I'd like to take the discussion into a slightly different direction. You see, Ghostcrawler wants to fix the player's attitudes and behaviors. He doesn't want people to feel afraid of talenting the WRONG spec. He doesn't want raid leaders to choose people for a group based on cookie cutter criteria of GS/Achieve/Spec, etc. But...the devs also are afraid to take away some of the environmental conditions, the stimuli, that allows for these behaviors because, in part, the player base has obtained pleasure in many of the changes.
But if GC is right, and the blame is 100% the developers, if they instilled these behaviors in us through their game design, then Classical Conditioning is hard at work in WoW. Personally, I think it's all a big pile of cow dung. Personally, I don't believe myself so conditionable (is that even a word? Well I'm going with it...) as Pavlov's dog. I point to my personal experience here. I think GC takes too much on himself and we, the players, are not as accountable for our behavior as we ought to be.
It's not a lack of choices in talents, it's not min/maxers who instill fear in the new 80 with "inefficient" talents, it's not ONLY the environment, it's a horrifying lack of leadership that is of equal blame of game design which encourages the behavior that GC does not like to see. When I did raid, I came to a point where I was sick of being held to unreasonable gear and achievement standards by pug raid leaders, so I started to raid lead pugs on my own. They were never a steamrolling experience, and there were often wipes and challenges, but never did any group I lead ever fail to complete the goal set out at the beginning of the raid. And in the process I was able to include people that would have otherwise been excluded becuase they did not choose to follow some cookie cutter spec, or other reasons.
What we fail from is bad leadership, ignorant leadership, tyrannical leadership, unreasonable leadership, stubborn leadership, greedy leadership, lazy leadership, need I go on? What we suffer from is people wanting to force other people to play "the right way", or the way that that leader desires, at not only the exclusion of others but outright public demeaning of specs and gs and achieves that are undesireable. I am not talking to any of my readers specifically, but for as much as environment influences the players, it's the players who choose to be led by said influences and whether to reinforce behavior or punish it. (Please read this on reinforcement and punishment, etc, it will help you understand).
What we have is a player base void of sufficient leadership. We need not place blame needlessly or in undue amounts. In such a reciprocal relationship nobody should shoulder all the blame. But let's not hide from a situation just because we're afraid to hurt each others feelings. I do not claim to be a perfect raid leader, nor hold all those qualities which I most desire in a leader. But I have tried to take a stand in the past and learn to become a better leader. I don't say this, again, to suggest that I'm any better than anyone, but at least I know that I have tried to fight against the norm. Can you say the same about yourself? I know some of you can, you've shared your experiences with me before.
Ghostcrawler will never fix the problems of behavior that he sees by tweaking the stimuli connected, to whatever degree you personally believe. No, you can't change a nation all at once, but you can change yourself, and encourage other individuals to do the same. In the process, as individuals change their paradigm, the nation begins to change, but from the inside and not from external stimuli.
I think that there are a lot of people lying comfortably in their shells, capable of doing great things and being great leaders. But timidity gets the best of most of us when faced with an angry mob demanding GS/Achieve/Cookie Cutter Spec. So how will you combat such demands? Not you as in "ya'lls", but you personally. What will you do individually to change the overall tone of raid leadership, pugging, talent specs, etc? Will you fall in line with the least degree of resistance? Many will, it brings pleasure to not have to face conflict. Larisa asked for ideas on what things could change to help the situation. My solution, become a leader. Make the change in yourself and ask others to follow.
How would you respond to local chat that said:
LFM raiders for Tol Barad. I care how you play, not GS or Achieve. I care if you know what you're doing, but don't demand any specific talent combination in your spec. Let's rock this place! Let's be honest with ourselves and with each other. Dont' send tell if you know you are not up to the challenge. But if you are let's join forces and have fun in the process. Who's with me?
Ok, maybe not the most eloquent speech, I'm no King Henry V. Leaders, come out of your shells and lead! Show everyone that there are a lot more people than we think with open minds and a willingness to learn and to teach. If GC wants things to change, allow him and the devs to make changes they feel will help (with your suggesions, of course), but YOU have to do your part as well, which may be more important than anything any developer can do.