Pandalita's Musings

💯 Min/maxing in multiplayer games

July 19, 2020 - 5 min read

Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been on the internet or in gaming, there’s a good chance you have encountered some form of elitism. One thing that is usually associated with elitism is min/maxing in games, but what is it really?

What is min/maxing?

Simply put, min/maxing, usually in roleplaying games, refers to the act of maximizing your character’s positive traits/strengths, while minimizing the negative traits/weaknesses. In the context of MMORPGs, it goes a lot deeper: It can be currency usage, stats, your character’s damage, and even time.

Min/maxing example:

In World of Warcraft - Rogues have Dot(Damage over time) debuffs that last for a specific duration, and there’s a mechanic called Pandemic that lets you refresh your debuff while it is still active - and the previous debuff will add on to the next one. It’s at about 30% of the duration where Pandemic kicks in.

So what you want to do is to refresh your Dots/buffs/debuffs while losing the least duration possible. Now that doesn’t sound really elitist, does it?

Min/maxing and elitism:

Since min/maxing is also used to “min/max” time, players in multiplayer games naturally want to have the best characters or best composition for their groups.

In Maplestory - I’d rather have the FotM* classes in my group to run content, in World of Warcraft - I’d rather have the FotM* classes in my raid group to clear bosses. and that’s natural, players usually want to succeed, but some players take it to a more ‘elitist’ level, where they only agree to play with players that play the best classes/characters, and that leaves players that play the ‘bad’ classes/characters behind.

*FotM: Flavor of the Month - Something that is currently good

There is the counter argument to that - that if a player can’t find their own group - they can form one, while I agree that can be true in a lot of cases, a lot of players don’t like forming their own groups because they have to lead it, which means they have to decide on strategies, make their own rules, and worst of all they have to find players that agree to play with them(which goes back to players that want to min/max).

Is min/maxing bad?

Personally, I don’t think min/maxing is bad in most cases, I don’t think it’s really that elitist to min/max as players think: You can min/max your stats and be a casual and you can min/max your time and be a casual because you don’t have a lot of time. Players associate min/maxing with hardcore players that play 80 hours/week and want to be at the top of the game, but that’s not always the case.

Where is min/maxing bad?

In my opinion, min/maxing is bad when it trivializes content in a game, the most recent example is Classic World of Warcraft - a 15 years old game that players have ‘completed’ (players know everything about the game), as soon as the game launched - players tried to ‘speedrun’ to complete the first raid - and that took less than a week, including leveling their characters. In the original game (15 years ago), it took players ~5 months to complete the same raid from the release of the raid.

While that is not a problem, players can choose to play the game however they want - I think it is a problem that it sets a standard for other players, which results in a casual player not being able to find a group if they don’t min/max like everyone else or follow the “FotM” build or classes.

Where is min/maxing good?

I think that min/maxing is a good thing when it enables new challenging gameplay - in Retail (current content) World of Warcraft - with every raid release comes a ‘world first race’ that usually ends up being a week or two, but it wouldn’t be possible if players didn’t min/max their characters there, otherwise it could take months for the ‘world first race’ to finish, the ‘world first’ players also come up with strategies to clear the raid in the highest difficulty which wasn’t shown in beta testing usually, and that also involves min/maxing - it can be the classes in their group, it can be the strategies themselves, and it can even be their own alt-runs (they run the raids on alternative characters to get gear incase a strategy changes).

Min/maxing can also be a way of testing limits and trying out new things, this is a great example of how min/maxing lets you test your limits:

A boss that usually takes 2 minutes to kill was done in 12 seconds.

Should I min/max?

I think that if you want to be the best and take it seriously then sure, go ahead and min/max. If you’re already in a guild and want to be the best, go ahead and min/max. However I think that you shouldn’t min/max if you’re just trying to enjoy the game without trying to be the best, from my personal experience min/maxing and trying to be the best results in burnout at some point.

Though honestly, do whatever you want, you’re playing a game in your own free time, so why not enjoy it on your own terms and not let others decide how you play?

Hi, I'm Pandalita, I'm a full stack developer & ex-hardcore WoW player. I also play LoL and sometimes share random thoughts!