The Different Roles in an MMO Raid Team: Tank, Healer, DPS

Daniel A. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Dr. Gameology on Twitch & The Gaming Persona Podcast
Owner of Area of Effect Counseling

Ever wondered what the different roles are in an MMO raid team and what they do? This post breaks it all down for you!

How do our roles help us enjoy playing video games? When we first sit down to create a new character for our role playing game, we can be overwhelmed with new ideas and choices to build our avatar around. One of these choices often involves our role; Tanking, Healing, and Damaging. How does this choice help us enjoy the game? What do we do to help our team achieve success? This post will explore all of these ideas from the perspective of gaming and psychology to unlock all the fun we hope to have every time we join a new virtual world!

How Do Games Help Us Connect With Others?

Gaming is often seen as a lonely and isolating activity, but new research suggests that it is actually the opposite. Gaming can actually be played as a social activity that brings people together and helps them connect with others.  Gaming helps us learn about cooperation and teamwork, as well as provide a way to bond with others who share our interests. There are always more options to choose our activities in an online game, and most of those involve some form of social connection.

When we choose our roles in an MMO, we are actually choosing how we want to interact with the game and other players. Do we want to be the one responsible for keeping everyone alive? Do we want to deal the most damage? Or do we want to support our team with heals and buffs?

Each role has its own challenges and rewards, but ultimately it is up to us to decide what we want to get out of the game. And no matter what role we choose, we can still have a lot of fun!

Surviving the Tank Role

The Tank role is one of the most important roles in an MMO raid team. The tank is responsible for drawing the attention of the enemy and absorbing as much damage as possible. This allows the rest of the team to focus on dealing damage or healing without having to worry about being attacked.

When a person chooses to play the tank role, they are typically choosing to be the responsible one on the team. Tanks are the ones who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their teammates. The strategy for each instance will often begin with the tank (or tanks) holding the threat value steady to control the boss. This can be a very rewarding role, as tanks make a direct difference for others by clearing a path for the plan of attack to work. However, it can also be a very challenging role, as tank players often have to take on the difficult tasks of making decisions that could put their teammates in danger if not executed perfectly. When this happens, the group usually will have to run it back and try again.

To succeed as a tank, it is important to be aware of health limitations and the capabilities of the full team. As the leaders of the group, tanks often need to be able to make quick decisions in order to run mechanics of the fight in very specific ways. While all of that is happening, tank players also need to be able to absorb as much of the incoming damage as possible so the team can avoid taking unnecessary damage. Holding threat and using taunts keep the boss focused in a way that keeps the battlefield as safe as possible to fulfill the goals for victory. In the deepest moments of danger for the team there may be a call for defensive moves from the tank that can shift the flow of battle in favor of the team. When these abilities work, the tank serves a mandatory role for opening up the path for the full team to be successful. That leadership role and team success together are ultimately what create the rewarding experience of playing as the tank.

Keeping Up With the Healer Role

The Healer role also serves one of the most important roles in an MMO raid team. The healer is responsible for keeping everyone alive by using their healing spells and abilities. As the fights continue, it is often normal for everyone in the team to take damage at different levels. Healers replenish the health bars and keep everyone active to continue working towards a successful end to the battle. This work to remove damage allows the rest of the team to focus on dealing their own damage or tanking on the enemies without having to worry about the attacks knocking them out of the fight permanently. 

When we choose to play the healer role, we are typically choosing to be a key supportive role for the team. We want to make sure that everyone is taken care of and has what they need in order to be successful. This can be rewarding in and of itself, as we get to feel like we are making a difference by helping others. without strong healers, fights overwhelm the group and end unsuccessfully. When the heals are flowing strong, we often become the center of attention for the team while everyone shares “thanks” and GG’s with us as we move on to the next challenge.

To succeed as a healer, it is important to be aware of the health bars of everyone in the group. We need to be able to identify when someone is taking damage and then act quickly to heal them. We also need  to be able to choose the right spells and abilities to use in order to effectively heal the group. Burst heals, shields, and HOT’s (heals-over-time) can be the difference between certain death and pushing through the biggest blasts during an encounter. When this plan works, we keep everyone alive and help the team to be successful. The feeling of support and team chemistry bring the role together as a enjoyable part of the healer play experience.

Owning the DPS Role

The DPS role (stands for Damage-Per-Second) is all about dealing as much damage to the enemy as possible. In most games, there are multiple ways to DPS effectively. Players who select the DPS role at the beginning of the storyline will often specialize in that area throughout our journey. As the story progresses their abilities become more impressive. This allows for more dramatic effects to be linked together during the growth of the character. Essentially, a DPS player will deal larger numbers of damage to their enemies the more skill they develop playing their character. Melee DPS stands close to the enemy and uses physical attacks to deal damage while ranged DPS players stand further away and use spells to achieve victory over their enemies. In some games, there are also what is called “hybrid” DPS players that can use both melee and ranged attacks depending on the situation.

The reason why DPS is so important in an MMO raid team is because the goal of most fights is to deal enough damage to the boss before the timer runs out. In order to do this, the DPS players need to have the skill to be able to generate a large amount of damage quickly and efficiently. This is why most DPS players choose this role. They want to defeat enemies directly, and they often want to do it in more and more impressive ways. Damage players want to become as efficient as possible at their rotation so that they can help the team succeed in more impressive fights each time they can come together for a gaming session.

When someone plays the DPS role, they are typically focused on their own individual performance. This can be a fun and rewarding way to play as they get to see their damage numbers increase each time they down an enemy. The feeling of becoming more powerful as the game goes on is one of the most attractive parts of this type of gaming for many DPSers. In an MMO raid team, the DPS role is important as it provides the majority of the direct damage needed to defeat the boss characters and end most fights successfully.

The Team is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

Selecting a role for an MMO raid team can be a daunting task for some players. There are several things to consider when making this decision. Do you want to play a supportive role? A key role in keeping the team alive? Or do you want to be the star of the show and deal the most damage? Regardless of which role you choose, it is important to remember that everyone on the team needs to work together in order to be successful. No one role is more important than another. Each role has a part to play in making the team achieve their potential and have fun doing it.

Having success in all three roles at the same time creates a synergy for a team allows each player to accomplish more together than they ever could alone. When everyone on the team knows their role and works together to support each other, that’s when the real fun begins. That’s when game players can achieve things that push the boundaries of their potential. In fact, many boss mechanics require teamwork that outright dwarfs the teamwork required for anything that occurs in a regular day in the child or adult world. It is this type of social interaction and teamwork that keeps players coming back to MMOs again and again.

Conclusion

MMOs offer players the ability to team up with others and take on big goals together. By selecting a role for our character, we are able to focus on what we want to do in order to help the team achieve victory. No one role is more important than another, and each player’s contribution is essential for success. When everyone works together as a team, that’s when the real fun begins. That’s when we can achieve things we never thought possible.

So, next time you’re creating a new character for an MMO or just sitting down to play your favorite game, think about what role you want to take on. Do some research and find out how that role can help the team succeed while having fun. By understanding our psychology and what makes us happy, we can create characters that give us the most enjoyment when gaming. Whether it’s Tanking, Healing, or Damaging; know that each of these roles are important in achieving success within any game!

Thank you for reviewing the importance of knowing your gaming role and finding success in that team mentality, and as always . . .

Continue the Journey!

References

Kaufmann, D. A. (2016). Personality, motivation, and online gaming [Order No. 10246131, Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (1860872558)].

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