Ion and the Peter Principle

“If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?”
Laurence J. Peter

Ion and the Peter Principle

When I went to grad school it was a very fancy private school. No, I was not rich, I was on a full scholarship. But, the school was loaded with rich and entitled kids. They’d often vent their frustration at the faculty for holding them back, the faculty were the enemy.

Then, after I graduated I got hired by another school within this same college. We, as a faculty, worked very hard to teach our students. Some of our faculty would really complain about the administration for not allowing them to do all that they wanted.

You know where this is going.

I was elected Chairman of the Academic Council with weekly meetings with the president and provost. Yep, they were doing their best to give the students the best chance at an education. I met the Board of Directors and the Trustees, they were doing everything that they can.

It is like that Corinthians verse, “When I was a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things”. Paraphrased a bit, but we often see the powers-that-be as enemies or against us, the little people but as we learn more we see that this is not the deal.

Occasionally, I’d see a faculty member really blast the president. He took it too. Candidly, he was not a great president; he was glorified fund raiser. That president kept his job for thirty years, unbelievable.

I know that we in WoW look at Ion and really want to blast him. I’m sure that he is doing his best to give a good game and to serve many masters.

I think about the Peter Principle. This is an idea that people rise to their level of incompetence.

Let’s say you get hired as a systems manager and you are really good at it. So, you get promoted to supervise all the systems managers. And you are really good at it and you get promoted. And promoted again. Now you are lead Game Designer and you don’t get promoted. You are not very good at the job, you are incompetent. So, you are stuck at this job that you are not very good at.

The Peter Principle tells us that everyone gets promoted until they don’t and this suggests that everyone in the business is not very good at their job. The only thing keeping this business alive is that the lower people are still moving up.

The point is that Ion and his brethren are not trying to screw us in the game. The point is that they are incompetent and can’t give us a great game.

Firing Ion would be a disaster on every front. WoW numbers would decline, the ship has left the sinking rats. Give him a raise and let him become a fund raiser.

4 thoughts on “Ion and the Peter Principle

  1. Not fair, is it? Thousands of people make WoW, and it’s all Ion to blame. Even if he was, well, it’s the same guy which delivered us Legion, am I right?

    WoW is in a good spot right now – I hope Vanilla release will make it perfectly clear. Blizzard are bound to try the new things, because us players get bored even with the old perfect stuff. Like world quests were awesome in Legion, and suddenly everyone hates them in BfA for the sole reason that they’re not new.

    I repeat myself: not every design and idea works, but you’ll never know until you try. It would be much worse if nothing changed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree with this quite generally – it is easy to target Ion as a figurehead of bad decisions, but I imagine much more of his time is spent as an approver. Reading blogs from WoW team members at varying points (my favorite having been one from Craig Amai, who has since left Blizzard but wrote about designing Artifacts in Legion), it is clear that many game design decisions are trickle-up – the lower totem pole team members often come up with the core ideas and design, it is picked apart, reassembled, and approved by higher ups, and then is ultimately approved as a part of the game. It is far easier (and lazy, to be quite honest) to blame Ion, but at the same time, many people who liked Legion (on which he was acting game director until his promotion anyways) will conveniently remove his involvement there in favor of blaming him solely for BfA.

    While I do think the game at present isn’t everything I want it to be, it isn’t the end of WoW or anything so drastic. If anything, one point I would argue with the team on (and I think one place where upper-management design philosophy is likely a problem) is the idea of being married to ideas for a whole expansion. I think the game would be miles ahead of where it is now in terms of player perception if they would allow themselves to redesign and rebuild things that don’t work mid-expansion, rather than pushing things to x.0 patches. That I am okay with putting more on Ion’s shoulders, because I highly doubt the lower-tier staff members decided on this philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m here in defense for clean desks 🙂 an empty desk does not mean empty mind, i don’t tell people with cluttered desks to clean it, some how they manage to do work just fine, for me i need the vast emptiness in everything, i need the void 😀 noise of any kind distracted me.

    Liked by 2 people

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