"In a game like World of Warcraft where players need to interact with others, social reputation is the currency. How players view you could either open doors or close them". Matticus.
"Your reputation is currency. Its one of the most valuable thing you own in game that you cannot see, yet it can be easily damaged or squandered and become very hard to repair". Galo - 12 Lessons I learned in WoW...
For a long time I've thought about this topic especially with World of Warcraft (WoW) as a very social environment game and especially where at certain points in the game you have to interact with others in group or guilds to accomplish various tasks. I myself have struggled on just how to put my thoughts here about the topic for some time let alone write it as I would like to but I'm no writer. The thing is Your WoW Reputation Does Matter! If in some way it doesn't matter to you as a WoW player, it will matter to the people you interact with in the game and that counts big time. As a matter of fact it will matter in any social environment game.
I learned a long time ago that it does matter from my days playing Secondlife when the game was barely known back then. As a very social virtual environment game where almost everything you do you have to interact with others having a good reputation was very important if you wanted help. You really had to have a good reputation if you were to survive playing that game a long time or get meaningful help from others or collaborate doing things or projects together. You only had one main account and didn't really have a alt account like you do in WoW and though you could create a second account to hide from everyone it was often a pain to do. Though WoW can be played a lot Solo much of the end game is all about group dynamics with others, guildmates or friends. To have a bad reputation is just not something you want following you around or stuck to your player identity server wide.
There are two main reputations a player have in WoW mainly faction reputation and player social standing reputation or server reputation. Faction reputation is what you gain over time questing or grinding the particular faction quests which in essence somewhat documents your progress with particular factions throughout the game. Player or server reputation is that reputation you gain with all the other players or peers on your server. To me Player Reputation is the invaluable currency you gain over time. Its the one thing you shape yourself over time through sheer effort, attitude and your player actions that become more valuable than almost anything else you can do in the game.
Yeah you can get purple Epics and you can baste in your glory of getting Epics Phat loot and about how leet you may be because of it, but loot gear will eventually be replaced in time or in a expansion. You can cheat your way into nice PvP gear piggybacking on other teams for the gear if you suck, but though you have the gear you will still suck and people will know it. What will still remain is your personal reputation of being a ass, moron, ninja or a dick or that you just plain suck in so many ways! And you have to ask your self do you as a player always want that following you around everywhere server wide, WoW Forums or in the Blogs everywhere. Think for a sec countries, companies, celebrities, nations, military, organizations all have reputations and it matters to them economically and socially as well as with the hearts and mind of people on a world stage. Your reputation in social fabric of WoW on your server will matter at some point with other players.
My personal reputation wasn't something I worried about much leveling and getting to Outland, afterall I'm was a solo player and still is. Yet in the back of my mind it was there in how I interacted with other players in groups. I like to leave with a good reputation. Helping out a stranger was a easy way to turn a unknown player into a friend. Constantly ganking someone is a easy way to be on someone hate list across faction. Grouping with people is a easy way to step from the shadows and become known to other players, yet what you do in those groups will push your reputation with those players to either a negative or positive. Being a player that pays for your enchant when you request service from a enchanter gives you favorable personal rating in the mind of that player. Afterall those players are providing a service to you so pay for that service.
I always pay well for my own enchanting and I retain those enchanters as friends also. They also return the service when I need help. Players learn just who you are over time as a server is only so big. That reputation as it becomes more well known will eventually follow you all throughout the game. As everyone bottlenecks at level 70, people will remember who you are and what reputation they have of you as a player. At some point all that adds up to influence whether they decide to group with you, invite you to a guild or run instances with you. In some way that's if people remember you at all. People on my Ignore list for being a complete ass are just not ever remembered, afterall they are on my /ignore list. I've grouped with some people in PuG's for which I'm famous for running instances as that I will never group with again. Do you think it helps that person when they themselves are now in LFG? I remember a bad healer I had once in Botanica that I walked out the Instance from. Think I will ever group with him again? Thing is it could be any player.
When I got to 70 I was a good player but because I often played Solo and did everything Solo including many group quests many people on my server didn't really know just who Galo was. Some did, but many didn't! I also lacked a lot of group experience, but I still knew how to work in group mentality wise, I knew my role. At 70 I spent a lot of time building up my tanking resume, running instance after instance and sharpening my skills in groups. Over time I made lots of friends with other players. Often I get asked by many players to come help on group quests or Tank for them or their guilds. People know they going to have fun when you show up for a run and they give you benefit of doubt when you make a silly mistake. I get asked in so many ways to come join this guild or the other because people notice you over time and think your a good player. Hey that right there is good REPUTATION.
Good player reputation is the currency like gold you just can't buy it. You can buy a Ebay lvl 70 with stats, but your still a unknown and unproven player like this Warlock. You have no history with other players and in a PuG your just that another random player. Good reputation takes time to gain but will get you group invites, instance invites and the benefit of a doubt with other players that you have a good reputation with. People will seek you out on their friends list for advice but if you have the reputation for being a ass they you have no such luck. You already squandered it, your currency is worthless. The only means you have of repair is a server transfer and start over or in the Blizzard Witness Protection Program with a name change to hide your identity.
Guilds are a dime a dozen lets face it. Good guilds are hard to find, yet good guilds with great players and reputation and player mentality are even rarer to find also. The Players that make up guilds eventually make guilds what they are or what they will become over time with good Officers. The better the personal reputation of the players in the guild the better the overall guild reputation. If the players in a guild suck or are known to be asses then very easily you can have a guild as a whole with a negative reputation. I can't think of any good reason why a player will go out of their way to form a guild to recruit people, recruit players that suck or suck badly in reputation to tarnish a guild reputation server wide. Why would players want to be identified with guilds that's subpar or suck badly I would never know.
Some people get into bad guilds initially without knowing much about the guild or its members. Eventually sooner or later they leave for better guilds or to get away from negative players so as not to be tainted. A bad guild reputation is just plain bad for guilds, a headache for the GM and Officers and bad for group moral and even worst for server reputation if you wish to survive as a guild. A bad guild reputation in my opinion will eventually lead to death of a guild by negative reputation through guilt by association and drama. You only have to hear what happened over at BBB to his guild Kara run with another rival guild on his server. Other good players getting a bad reputation through guild by association is a bad predicament to be in. I as a player could not in good standing be associated with that guild that stole their Kara ID its just bad reputation and I spent too much time grooming my good reputation to have some idiot place me and my guild in a negative light. Reputations do follow players and hence either enhance a guild reputation or eventually bring it down. Yet guilds do need to protect their reputations also and thats up to all its members.
Some players may say, well its my $15 a month to play WoW and I can play how I want and be however I want to be and have a negative rep if I want to. Yeah and that's true. On the other hand player also exercise the right not to be identified with those players that or to have their actions ruin their fun of the game and hard earn reputation. Your reputation does matter, you can shape it to how you desire it to become. You can have a reputation as a good Healer by not sucking as a Healer and knowing how to play your class and having good healing gear. That will get you put on many players friends list. You can make many friends as a Tank by being just as good and a effective tank with good maintained gear, knowing encounters, running instances well with minimal deaths and executing good pulls and having smooth runs that are fun. People always want to have good tanks on their friends list when they can't find any in their guilds or in LFG.
Other people get good reputation for showing up on time or being reliable or good for their word. You think player reputation is not important, try to get a group in LFG or in your own guild when many other players personally know you suck as a player or have bad reputation or unskilled. Some may not tell you, but they will exercise their right and just not group with you. On the other hand a few good players decide to do a Instance run or raid and people jump at the opportunity to run with those people. Reputation Matters! Reputation hard earned in any social environment needs to be groomed and protected. A damaged reputation whether its player personal or guild reputation is mightily hard to repair and often costly. Often costly for the player as they eventually stop playing and quit. Bad for guilds as players don't want to be associated with guilds with bad reputation and the players that remain are often termed guilty by association with guilds with bad reputation.
In the end those guilds fall apart and get disbanded, yet the players that were known to be apart of those guilds do carry with them the stigma of been apart of those guilds and find that hard to leave behind. Player Reputation is your currency with other players and maintaining that reputation leads to long life playing WoW, having good friends in a fun environment and enhancing guild reputations.