Risks, Costs, and Persistence of Superstitions
It bears pointing out the conditions that encourage superstitions to develop and the irrational and social mechanisms that sustain them. As we've seen, superstitions are more likely to involve low-chance and high-risk events. In practice, they are partly sustained because the cost of a 30 second superstitious behavior is extremely low in comparison with a raid wipe (and the consequent regrouping time).
'Sundering the Beast in UBRS causes him to AOE nonstop.' I mean, huh? Since when has Blizzard ever marked a single ability for this sort of arbitrary punishment? 'Hey kids, don't use curse of weakness on Gandling, because he starts teleporting people a ton faster...' But nobody wanted to try it out; I remember actually offering to pay people a gold each to let me try sundering (I was MT) and they refused; nobody wanted a wipe. When the alternative is a wipe, people are very pious when it comes to respecting these technological taboos. [WoW, M, 23]
Another mechanism is that we tend to remember confirming cases more than disconfirming cases. But typically, one confirming case is enough to create a new group of converts.
If it worked some of the time, it was enough for the group in question to continue to think that the process they were following was crucial to the success of whatever it was they were doing. [EQ2, M, 36]
Overall, I was most surprised by how widespread superstitions were across MMOs and how adamantly some players follow them. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, a few of these superstitions might in fact be true, but most are likely to be false. I'll close this exploration of superstitions with an anecdote that is a little more light-hearted.
In EQ1 people used to think that if you didn't stand on the top of Orc Hill, it would make the Orc Trainer spawn faster. This was a pretty silly thing, but it was a common thing to hear people say in game. The funniest part about it was when I went to the official SOE EQ Velious expansion party in Las Vegas, and there was a huge, slow moving line to get in, even for those of us who were pre-registered for the event. We were all standing in line in a hall of the hotel, and there was carpeting that was occasionally broken up by a small area of tile. At one point I said 'Hey, I heard if you don't step on the tiles, the line will move faster,' and a whole bunch of people in line busted up laughing. [EQ2, F, 42]
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