What it means to “Raid”

The other day I posted on Facebook about my recent success in World of Warcraft raiding. The comments from friends and family were along the lines of…

“That’s great… we think?”

That’s a fair response. After all, from an external view, video games are video games and do not necessarily compare to real world activities. In many cases that can be true. Just playing a game doesn’t necessarily equate to any kind of value, but we should also take the time to appreciate the value of what gaming can provide.

Something like Raiding, for example, is a complex story.

So What Is Raiding?

To put it simply, raiding is a coordinated effort of real people to accomplish a set goal. Sounds simple enough. In the real world, think of those escape rooms that are all the rage right now. It’s very similar. You team up with real people, often times people you know, but sometimes total strangers. Together, you work toward a common goal. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Example Boss

In the case of WoW Raiding, you’re generally running into a large building and trying to overpower and defeat various “bosses”.

Doesn’t sound that impressive, right?

Except beneath that simple explanation lies a true depth to the experience that must be appreciated.

These bosses require tight communication and teamwork in order to counter their mechanics and ultimately bring them down. A “raid group” generally consists of at least ten people, two “tanks”, two “healers” and six “dps”. Each person in the group has a role they need to fulfill:

  • DPS – These are the damage dealers. They put the hurtin’ on the boss, but they are vulnerable to attack. If they aren’t protected, they can die instantly.
  • Tank – These are the protection squad. Their job is to keep the boss occupied, taking most of the damage while the DPS players do their job. If tanks go down, the whole group usually bites the dust, which is why we need healers.
  • Healers – These are the ones that keep everyone up and running. The tanks are generally their highest priority, but sometimes bosses deal a lot of damage to the group as a whole. The DPS can’t protect themselves, so healers are there to keep them happy and healthy.

The “Team” has no “I” 

The three roles are bound to one another pretty tightly when it comes to these bosses. Without tanks, damage adds up and healers are overwhelmed. Without healers, tanks can’t absorb enough damage and are overwhelmed. Without DPS, tanks and healers can’t bring the boss down and are overwhelmed.

So, to prevent this group from falling into disarray, we all get online and talk to each other. Different people have different methods, but the key is being able to communicate in the heat of the moment.

General Phrases You Might Hear During a Raid

  • “Get out of the fire.”
  • “I need a dispel!”
  • “Can I get a HEAL over here?!”
  • “Watch out for the spikes!”
  • “Everyone move away from the edge.”
  • “Bring up that DPS.”
  • “I’m down.”
  • “Can we get a rez?”
  • “Save it for the tanks.”

Progressing Together

Once you have a team of players, the fun begins. The game introduces a new raid and you rush in together, start your first attempt on the boss… and generally die.

Learning comes from attempting, in any activity, and raiding is no different. We learn that certain bosses have certain abilities, some of which require specific players to counter or divert. Each time we start a fight we go into it knowing we’re going to learn something new. Eventually it all comes together and we down the first boss.

Awesome. Just 8 more to go!

Sometimes, bosses get the best of us, and we hit a wall. It may only take a few tries to kill one boss, but weeks of trying to get the next one. Our team grows and gets more familiar with each player’s strengths and weaknesses. By the time we reach the end, we’re practically a family of gamers.

It is a very rewarding experience.

Combating The Negative Connotation

When I was growing up, many people looked at video games a as a waste of time. That trend had changed slightly over the years, but often times the general sentiment remains. While I am more than willing to acknowledge that losing yourself in a game and foregoing all over activities can put a damper on your social life, I’m not willing to say that the gaming world is a bad thing.

As an adult and professional communicator, I am happy to say that much of my ability to socialize with people and coordinate project efforts at my job has stemmed directly from experiences within video games. That is to say, I’m very glad that I have had these kinds of things in my life.

So, for those who see someone talking about their digital achievements, try to remember that many times what they are excited about really did require time, effort, and often a level of dedication just like any other hobby or fun activity in this world. Don’t dismiss it as time wasted, but as a moment worth noting as an accomplishment.

You don’t have to be excited about it. When someone jumps up and down that their favorite football team just won the Superbowl, you’ll discover that I am generally not as invested as they are, but I can appreciate that something they are passionate about is happening and it excites them.

Kudos sports team. Kudos gamers.



One thought on “What it means to “Raid”

  1. When I first bought WoW, I thought I’d be setting up armies like you might see Napoleon use and then I’d click “go” to see the animated fight; flanking maneuvers, cavalry, traps etc.
    Good description of raiding, when I first heard it I thought our characters would loot and pillage a town.


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