Durummu and Scapegoating in Raid Finder

In Leviticus, Aaron’s two sons die for merely approaching the Tabernacle at all; the location was simply too holy to be tread upon without any purification. However, there’s another reason why this occurs: even the priests of the Temple (the Levitical priesthood, anyway) were not safe from the taint of sin. To approach, then, meant that the priest must also cleanse himself of sin or face his own doom in performing his commanded duties. God, as per His way, outlines the process by which a priest can become clean and once again approach. Leviticus 16 says thus:

Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on. He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.

That might seem a little confusing, but I’m not here to explain the reasons for sacrifice (if you’re reading this, you at least know what Google does and could probably search for it yourself). Rather, my interest lies with the two goats…huh? Why that? Well, let’s go a little further.

Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting.Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.

And we arrive at the term “scapegoat”. In Judaism, the scapegoat became an essential function for Yom Kippur, or “The Day of Atonement”. Although it works in a spiritual sense now (i.e., no wanton animal killing, nor do I imagine that would be legal, or sanitary, or PETA might come to your place of worship with a big fat lawsuit), it original functioned in a literal sense. The goats existed for the purpose of absolving corporate sin for the whole nation of Israel. One goat  is offered as a sacrifice before God, and the other gets sent into the wilderness. The priest’s actions “send away” the sins of the people for that year, and that is the end of it. I suppose you could also make a connection to Christ being the scapegoat for our sins as well.

So what does this have to do with video games? Like all things, an inevitable perversion occurs – instead of scapegoating for a righteous purpose, we see this happen all the time. How much accusation and blame do you see heaped upon one person as if they were the sole cause for some social trouble? If they aren’t the sole party at fault, they will find blame from the nameless and faceless majority – after all, we need to see justice, even blind justice, done to someone. I cannot feel better unless someone solves the problem by doing something causally and logically unrelated to the problem at hand – treat, the symptoms, and not the disease.

No more fitting example exists of this than Raid Finder in World of WarCraft. Putting 25 strangers in a group does not appear a wonderful idea from the outset, but the scapegoating mentality remains in full swing. Just a few days ago, I fought Durummu the Forgotten:

durumu-header

This boss is what I would call “unkind” to the player who hasn’t looked up strategies to defeat the boss, nor know what they’re doing. Most Raid Finder bosses allow for a huge margin of error, hence making 25 people better than they appear, but Durummu’s Disintegration Beam mechanic puts autopilot players to death for not paying attention. Literally, the boss charges up a huge beam that will instantly kill anyone who touches it; at the same time, he covers the entire platform in purple junk called Eye Sores; step on these and you take massive damage, very much unhealable even with the best gear. You need to stay close to the death beam and wait for an open path to expose itself in the Eye Sores. To demonstrate:

DurummuEyeSores

The purple is even more dense once it actually gets into full swing – hence, why they call it the “maze”. If you don’t know what’s going on, you’re guaranteed to die. Literally, I’ve seen twenty players die immediately, hence ending the fight. I accept this as a natural part of playing Raid Finder – eventually, people will either get the fight or they’ll leave. That might take many, many tries (try up to ten on bad days), but it’s all part of the experience. Wiping’s a natural part of the game, but bosses like these bring out the worst in people. Once there’s a certain threshold, the accusations will fly: this person didn’t heal enough, this person didn’t do enough damage, the tanks are bad, etc. It doesn’t help that this means the person who hasn’t ever played this fight before cannot admit his/her own ignorance for fear of reprisal. See, any player in Raid Finder can initiate a call to kick if five other people agree; then, the whole group votes on the validity of said kick. More often than not, you vote yes (it’s anonymous) just out of habit.

Sometimes, that person genuinely IS bad, but great injustices occur all the time. A loudmouth gains instant camraderie with the crowd, who then join him/her on the hunt for the culprit. He/she/it made us wipe, surely! The anonymity of the Internet, and the fact that I may never see this character ever again, means that there’s no reprecussions for acting like a mob against some guy. They’ll harp on the issue like a crazed obsessive, an OCD patient, until the group gets tired of the whining and kicks the person. Heaven help you if you speak Portuguese in chat (tip: don’t speak foreign languages in chat, Brazilians!).

I’ve made it a rule to avoid getting kicked by being smart about it. I rarely make mistakes because I’m the obsessive one who reads everything rather than going in blind. If I make a mistake, I announce it in chat during the fight. If people need help with mechanics, I try to help them understand it. If someone’s getting the scapegoating stick, I defend them for as long as I can before the inevitably vote. Heck, I’ve had my mother get kicked for “poor” DPS – that’s never a great feeling.

There’s not much fun and learning in Raid Finder when it comes to these situations – they want to rush ahead as quickly as possible, and don’t even know the fights when they get there! Then, they blame everyone else and we all just accept it outright. That’s not the way of things – in real life, we’d never do such things. Yet, the Internet lets us act how we truly think when there’s little consequence to our actions. The scapegoat, here, is a false one, an imaginary being of their own design. In fact, the whole group failed one and all, whether in explaining the fight or listening to the strategies or whatever you need to do.

That is the purpose of the scapegoat: corporate sin, not just those of the individual. We reversed the concept: we lay the blame on one person and send them off without rational or logical deduction – just accusation. The accuser laughs heartily at our frivolous and meaningless games, I wager. Get us distracted from the real issues and the real solutions, and how easy is it to win the game? Concentrate on the surface issue (circumcision) rather than the real issue (obeying God’s commands) and what do you have? This is exactly what Paul says in Galatians 5:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

Raiding requires a group effort, not a joint accusation. So can a Church not function without group effort and encouragement.  So it is in video games, so it is in real life.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.