A Question From a Reader
Craig posted an interesting question that led to tonight’s topic. Paraphrasing his full comment, he asked why one of his raiders was oblivious to DBM warnings about a raid hazard, but responded flawlessly to that same hazard being called out over voice communications by a guildmate.
Maybe it was the Command
In my response, I speculated that perhaps the voice warning was phrased as an imperative: “Run out”. The command made it easier and quicker for the raider to respond, by saving him from mentally translating a hazard warning to an appropriate response.
Perhaps it’s How He’s Wired
That’s one possibility. Another is that he’s simply responding to a auditory cue better than he does to a visual cue. There’s a bit more that in this post, but the basic idea is that many of us are “wired” for a primary perceptual mode, and receive information better in that mode. Auditories need to hear, visuals need to see, kinesthetics need to feel (get their hands on). We’re all a mix of all of these, but a person who strongly favors one learns best in that mode, and responds best to instruction in it.
However, there’s another topic I want to touch on here, although it relates somewhat indirectly. I think when you consider the performance you’ve observed during raids or other stressful learning situations, this may give you some insight. Every person learning a new and complex skill goes through (up to) four stages of learning, while their brain “builds programs” to cope with the desired outcome.
The Four Stages of Learning
- Unconscious Incompetence
- Conscious Incompetence
- Conscious Competence
- Unconscious Competence
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence
In the first, Unconscious Incompetence stage, they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t even care, because they don’t perceive the relevance, necessity, or sometimes existence of the need for the skill. You (or your raid leaders) may be ready to tear your hair out at their utter failure to perform the necessary action correctly, but they aren’t even at the stage where they know what that necessary action is.
Tonight, I was trying to teach my raid that it’s important for the topside raiders to cluster up quickly and consistently during the Yogg fight. I explained that it helps enormously with cleansing, being in range of totems and healers, etc. I reminded. I marked people to pile up on. And still, of course, folks … wandered off. It’s still a fairly new thought, and kept getting pushed aside by the other urgencies of a complex fight.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence
The second stage is Conscious Incompetence. I think we got to that stage on our cleansing tonight. I’m hopeful that everyone in the raid who can cleanse disease, poison, magic or curses now understands and remembers that it’s important. But some of them are truly awful at it. Trying to do it hurt their dps, and didn’t help their cleansing results much.
If you think back to the days when you were learning to drive, this is like oversteering. Too much is going on, and you know this is important, but you have no grace in doing it yet and certainly can’t put your brain on automatic and expect it to happen. Another important facet of this is that some haven’t learned to use the necessary tools for the job yet, such as raiding mods that aid in cleansing.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence
Ah, Conscious Competence is a lovely one to reach. You know why the skill needs performing, when to do it, and how. You can, for example, drive a car, or heal the Yogg fight, or make the photocopier work. You need to focus and concentrate, and distractions can be a problem, but on the whole you’ve got it down. If you get tired, your skill level degrades, since it still takes focus, but you are capable and know it. Raids that get all their members to this stage on a fight get kills. Consistently, although not effortlessly.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence
At the stage of Unconscious Competence, you know the skill so well that you don’t have to think about it. You can respond easily to changing conditions and circumstances. You don’t need to concentrate much to perform flawlessly. Like driving, after many years, you do several things simultaneously without thinking about how to execute any of them. It just comes “naturally” to you to steer, check both mirrors periodically, apply the gas and brake, shoulder check, watch for cars in your blind spot, and control your speed and the distance to the vehicle in front of you. None of these activities take focus, and you can listen to music and drink coffee at the same time.
In game terms, you know every nuance of the fight, don’t need reminders, and can “effortlessly” manage several skills at once, like moving and healing and cleansing. They become reflex. You can almost “do it in your sleep”.
One particular hazard to watch out for here, in your raiding: Leaders who have been at Stage 4 for some time are frequently very poor (Stage 1!) at the skill of teaching others to perform the same task in which they are expert. This is why most people probably shouldn’t try to teach their spouse or kids to drive!
It’s a Normal Progression of Learning
You’ll see your raiders progress through these stages as they encounter new content, learn it, overcome it, and eventually get it on farm mode. In the case of Craig’s raider who is having trouble following the DBM warnings, he’s at Stage 1 on that skill. However, he’s at or near Stage 3 when it comes to following verbal instructions.
“Practice makes perfect” is an old cliche, but in complex fights, sometimes people just need time, good feedback, and practice for their brains to write the necessary programs to get them to Stage 3 and 4. Some of your quicker-to-learn raiders will get frustrated with the speed it takes others to advance through these stages, but the stages are necessary for all of us. Some of us just compress them a few days (or weeks!) more tightly together than others.