Selfishness has an almost universally negative connotation. If someone calls you selfish, you are more than likely to perceive it as an insult and are probably correct in that interpretation. And if you are a fan of jumping to conclusions, you have probably leapt to the idea that I am going to call the RuneScape playerbase selfish. But before you parachute out of that plane, allow me to try to explain.
Pick your favorite example of people that you might think of as out of touch: members of legislature, corporate executives, rich people, whatever. As a particular instance I will refer the wife of a political figure who will remain unnamed and "drives a couple of Cadillacs." While people are of course free to drive whatever automobile(s) strike their fancy, the issue here was the context of the quote in trying to strike an image of being a man of the people. That's all fine, aside from the fact that two of those cars is worth far more than the average man in the street has!
I think on some level, a similar principle applies to RuneScape. An interesting question is the issue of whether or not RuneScape has social castes. Certainly one can draw a line between different groups of people based on how much money they have. There are the beggars, roaming the concrete jungle of the Grand Exchange, pleading for handouts with whoever will listen (but that's for a future article), people who more or less manage but don't have any massive wealth, and a bunch of much more well off players. Perhaps sadly, the notion of wealth as a yardstick for comparison is just as prominent in a game as its non-virtual equivalent. Daily you see people flaming beggars or people putting others down, and on the flip side, lower level players (for lack of a better term) resenting higher levels for having more wealth.
Consider weaponry and armor for a moment. Drygore weaponry, as you may know, are weapons that require 90 Attack to wield and come from the Kalphite King as drops. They are tradeable and degrade, requiring a few million to repair every time from their empty state. Ask anyone (I promise, anyone!) with a pair of them and they will tell you that they are cheap. Why do they think they are cheap? Is it because they are stuck-up rich little brats? I don't think so. One reason is because of pictures like this:
Consider virtually any powerful or ex-powerful weapon in game, and you notice a couple of things. The first is an almost frightening uniformity in the downward trend, caused by the inevitable entry of more of that weapon into the game. The second is the power creep effect, when weapons are replaced by something else. It can be subtle, but it no doubt adds up after a while. Imagine that the Rune 2H sword was at once time deemed too powerful and removed from the game!
Getting back to the point though, let's say that a weapon of choice costs 30M, to set something concrete. What actually goes into earning that for one of us plebs? Well, if you're lucky, you find a moneymaking method of choice that can net you about a million an hour fairly reasonably. Keep in mind though, that people are not machines. They make mistakes, forget their rune essence in the bank, get distracted by that Facebook post...whatever. And in addition, most people have a rather limited amount of time that can be spent on the game, even with AFK'ing, and want to spend their time playing and exploring new content in addition to a constant chase for financial prosperity.
Those skills often take money, too. Want to get 85 Herblore? Money. Prayer for curses? Money. Train Construction for your house (a frivolous but fun endeavor that people participate in)? It also costs money! It's easy to take it for granted because it's a one-and-done sort of deal: once you've paid off Herblore and Prayer, you've made a no doubt wise investment, but nonetheless you are done. And when you have had them unlocked for as long as you can remember, it becomes harder to remember ever having lived without it.
Now let's suppose that your average player decides to chug along to get a drygore and put in some reasonable numbers based on assumptions above. This somewhat dilligent player has around 10 hours a week, and spends half making money, and doesn't spend much on other things. Here's how it is broken down:
5 hours a week at 1M/hr = 5M every week.
30M for a drygore / 5M/week = 6 weeks to earn it.
So although others might make 30M in one lucky night of PvM splits, for others, six weeks is a pretty decent length of time. To give a personal example, in 6 weeks I learned the entirety of (college level) Spanish 2. Granted, I spent a few more hours than that, but I did quite well in the class and probably could have gotten away with less had mediocrity been my goal. And keep in mind, even when that goal is reached, that is not the end.
Recall that the weapon still degrades, and that means paying substantial GP for repair costs. Of course, the degradation is gradual, but allow me to call in another metaphor from the classroom. Almost everyone has worked in a group project, and probably has an experience of people not doing work or procrastinating. Well, same thing happens on a game - your drygore runs out of charge just when you really need a bit more. And now you're stuck with a useless weapon and the uphill struggle to get it fully charged. And before you say it's "only" 1.7M using chitin scraps or whatever for the main hand - remember my previous point! It still takes a few hours, now with sub-par weapons nonetheless, to go and earn it back.
The bond issue throws another monkey wrench into things. Bonds were a very popular update that afforded players the opportunity to purchase membership with in-game currency. This has the obvious consequence of some players attempting to be self-sufficient on bonds to stay a member without ever spending real life money on the game. Of course, that's their prerogative, but it makes it quite difficult to save up on top of that. If a bond is 8M, that means 4M a week of income is needed just to pay off your membership cost before you can do anything else! Again, couple that with procrastinating and it makes it very difficult for your average player to save up for something expensive.
Of course I understand that there are people who all juggle this very well and manage to keep degradable stuff fully charged, but the point I'm trying to make is that not everyone has that sort of management skill. And even if so, for those more casual players who just come on, the amount of charge remaining in their weapon is probably not the first thing off the top of their head.
Another facet of it is not just players leveling up and unlocking new, expensive stuff but returning players. In a sense, the situation is even worse under the circumstances. For various reasons, they are often without much in terms of bank or stuff - either from giving it away prior to quitting in the past or due to having their account hijacked. This compounds the problem, since they are assumed to have gear and game knowledge when they may in fact be out of date. In this sense, they're really playing as new players with a bunch of stats that almost tagged along for free.
Several years ago, there was a lot more hand-holding, or so it seemed. If you asked for help the odds were relatively good that someone would take a few minutes of their time and help you. Now the best you can hope for in general is a short, terse answer. To be fair, most of the information you might need can be found with a relatively painless search, but the point still remains.
So to sum up, if you're high leveled or maxed, in the future remember the work that you (probably at least, unless you were lucky enough to receive a lot of free handouts) had to put in to get yourself to that level and try to see things from someone else's perspective. Because if you haven't noticed, there's one digit less on the counter of active players than there used to be. And although that could be for any number of reasons, if we're ever going to maintain or get more new players, we at least need to make them feel welcome. And on the other side, if you do need help, it's not that difficult to seek it out, even if a Google search does seem a bit inhumane. Unlike it might have been years ago, in the vast majority of cases you can find what you need with a few well-placed keywords and within one of the top few hits. As cliche as it may sound, perhaps we can gain from each other's perspective.