The dilemma I'm faced with today is how to speak about an activity, but not come across as passing judgment on those who choose to participate in it. Let's see if I can accomplish that.
The activity I'm talking about is the selling of Proto Drakes. Certain guilds are selling spots in their Ulduar 10 runs. They know these fights so well, and overgear them to such a degree that they can essentially 9 man all the achievements and Hard Modes needed for the Rusted Proto Drake. The 10th person pays some large amount of WoW gold, transfers to that guild's server, does the run, gets the achievements and the Drake, and transfers back home. I've heard figures up to 30,000 WoW gold.
This is very similar to how guilds would sell 'Bear runs' towards the end of Burning Crusade. There was a special Amani Bear mount which could only be obtained by completing Zul'Aman in a specified amount of time. My guild came close a couple of times, but ultimately we never got it.
Buying an Amani Bear run didn't appeal to me back in Burning Crusade and buying a Proto Drake has zero appeal to me now.
Just to be clear, I have no problem with the guilds selling the runs. If you are that skilled/geared, and your customers actually get their Drakes/Bears, that's awesome for your guild and it'll fill the guild bank coffers.
I have also have no problem with the person buying the Drake. If you've got that much WoW gold, plus you have the real money to pay for the transfer there and back again, and you want to buy it, I’m not going to stop you.
What boggles my mind is the motivation for wanting to do that. Do you really care that much about what a random passerby at the Dalaran flight point thinks of you?
Buying the Drake would seem to indicate that the buyer wants people to consider him an excellent player, and cares about what people think of him as he hovers over the bank in Dalaran. I understand wanting to be respected by your peers, but anyone who sees a person on a Proto Drake, and then doesn't see anyone else from your guild on one will be able to put two and two together pretty quickly. It's not a single loot thing like the Drake from 3D. Everyone in your core team should have one. That’s assuming they even recognize the Drake on sight, or understand what it means.
To my warped way of thinking, the Proto Drake would be a trophy from a couple of unforgettable nights of raiding with my team. It would be a tangible representation of what we had accomplished together and a display of our achievement when we rode them, in formation, to our next raid.
If I had bought the Drake, it would just feel so hollow every time I brought it out. It would have no meaning.
To me it would be like buying a Doak Walker Trophy off eBay. The Doak Walker Trophy is awarded every year to the best running back in college football. After you bought the trophy, you would put up on your mantle. You would then let people see it when they came over for dinner parties, and maybe someone would even ask you about it.
Whether you told them the truth or made up a story, you’d know. You’d know in your spirit you really didn't EARN the Trophy, the Drake. Oh, you'd tell yourself that it was just circumstances outside your control. You’d convince yourself that you were every bit as good as those guys who got you the Drake. You’d think that you really could have done it on your own. You didn’t have to be carried. But it would have meant leaving your friends, or your server. Or it would have meant raiding far more hours than you healthy normal lifestyle can allow.
But deep down, in that part of you that you don't like to talk about, or acknowledge, you KNOW. You KNOW you didn't really earn it. You bought it. The same as any guy who just hit 80, and couldn't DPS, Tank, or Heal half as good as you can. He could have had one, too, if he had the money/gold.
For me, I just couldn't do it. I couldn't display a badge of honor that I hadn't actually earned with my team. It wouldn't feel right to me. Every time I brought it out it would only remind me of my choice to take the fast and easy path, to take the shortcut, and get a reward that I didn't truly deserve.
Someone who buys a Drake run is well within their rights, as is the guild that sells it.
But respect? Sorry, not from this Dwarf.