The morons and slackers are indeed bad players, but not because of lack of gaming skill or effort. They are bad people whose badness is universal, applies to everything they do, including of course gaming. Let me point out the fundamental and non-gaming differences between M&S and other, less progressed players.
Any activity needs effort to be successful. You can’t become an athlete, get good SAT, university diploma or keep your job unless you make appropriate effort. This applies of course to gaming. In MMOs effort correlates with time spent playing, despite it’s not the same. I’m sure that over the full course of the WoW 4.0 content I spent more time playing than some Paragon and Method members, without even getting close to Sinestra. “Effort” can mostly be defined as “sacrifice”. I refused to sacrifice my schedule, I play when I want to. Therefore I can’t be in a high-attendance guild, so no easy farmraids for me, every time I have to go with new people who takes some wipes to learn the strategy, so I spend much more time in farmbosses than the HC players, who oneshot everything with their fixed team. If I made the sacrifice of “I’ll make it to raid on Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Monday 19:00-23:00 every time”, I’d kill much more bosses. Of course there is always someone who makes more effort and someone who makes less than you.
Two kind of people don’t make the necessary effort to react top content: casuals and slackers. Yet their similarities end here. The casual is aware that he choose to not make the effort, therefore abandoning the goal. I made peace with not killing Sinestra (anyone remembers her?) and I don’t think I deserved to di it. The casual acknowledges the fact that there is no success without effort, he just believes that the reward isn’t worth the effort. The casual is happy with his choice and doesn’t envy those who have more, as he knows that they worked hard for it, and he didn’t. Casuals can range from never-reach-max level funplayers exploring the world to “casual raiders” who “just” raid 3 days a week. Everyone is a casual in someone’s eyes and hardcore in someone else’s. “Casual” is a relative term, and it’s inappropriate to use it on anyone. The proper usage is “X is more casual than Y”.
The slacker also doesn’t make the effort, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting the rewards. He believes he is entitled for everything, simply on the basis of him being a human (him paying subscription for a game). He believes that others should make his rewards happen. “Others” can be the developers nerfing everything to his low-effort level, or other players boosting him. The slacker resent those who have more than him and believes that they are just lucky or evil who immorally keep him away from goals. He believes that the raid leader who kicks him for terrible performance is merely an elitist jerk who has no life and kicked him only because he has life.
The slacker is not defined by the amount of effort he makes. He is defined by the low effort/goal ratio. If you play “just” 8 hours a day and want world firsts, you are a slacker (despite much more hardcore than me). On the other hand if you play WoW 8 hours a week and want to do one heroic dungeon a week, have an OK gear from previous patch, enchanted it, you are a prepared player (more casual than me, though) who deserves his reward. Slacker is not a relative term, someone is or is not a slacker based on the question: does he do enough effort to reach the goals he set?
To reach success, effort is not enough. Skill is needed to make the proper choices where to make effort. If I spend 100 hours completing fluff achievements, I am much further from being ready to raid than the guy who spent 1 hour reading up on the encounter. The unskilled person wastes his efforts. There are two kind of unskilled people:
The newbie don’t know much about the game yet. He makes bad choices, wastes his effort. However he is aware of his ignorance and wants to learn. Reads the materials he accesses, listens to other, more skilled players and above all, learns from his mistakes. As with “casual”, “newbie” is also a relative term and cannot be used on anyone. I am ignorant newbie compared to the guys who write the guides and a pro compared to those who doesn’t know about guides. Everyone is less informed and skilled (newbie) than someone and more informed and skilled (pro) to someone else.
The moron refuses to learn. His motivation can be a complete anti-knowledge culture, this case he devalues skill, believes that it doesn’t exists and only effort and luck are needed. He is the “i just dun have gear” moron, who sometimes make huge effort to get gear, but still sucks as his rotation is a joke. The other possible motivation is a false belief in his knowledge. While he is ignorant, he thinks he is smart and refuses to learn from “the newbs”. Both kind of morons believe that those above them made more effort (no lifers), just lucky or in worst case “got more help” (which of course means they are entitled for the same help).
“Moron” is an absolute, “you are or you are not” quality that is not based on your absolute knowledge but on “do you know enough to reach the goals you set”?. If you are healing as a shaman in a world first aspirant WoW guild and don’t know if 1.2 mastery rating or 1 crit rating is better for a you, and you don’t even know that you should, you are a moron. On the other hand if you only know that both stats are good for a resto shaman, while hit is not, you are completely skilled for someone who does only 5-mans.
As you can see, the difference between casual and slacker, newbie and moron has nothing to do with spell rotations, boss tactics or ilvl. These are personality, value, meta-skill differences. While newbieness and casualness is limited to a game, being slacker and moron are universally true to the person.
Last question: why “M&S”, why do I address them together, despite moron and slacker are pretty different in motivation, beliefs and values? Because unless I spend lot of time analyzing a specimen, I can’t tell which one is him. Is he ungemmed because he doesn’t know the importance of gems or because he doesn’t want to grind gold for gems? Does he fails the boss mechanics because he don’t know about written boss strategies or because he can’t be arsed to read them? Does he beg gold because he doesn’t know about goldmaking techniques or because he is lazy to do them? Does he stands in the fire because he doesn’t know that the incoming damage is avoidable or because he is watching TV? Does he write “yo m8 cud u link mats 4 vial” because he really thinks it’s English (and doesn’t know that Wowhead has the recipe) or because he can’t care less to write properly (and use wowhead)?
I’m not his therapist. It’s not my job to solve his problems. If he aims for a goal, he must do the necessary effort and have the necessary skill to reach this goal. If he can’t do it, he is either a moron or a slacker. A bad person who wastes the time of other human beings. Since the only way to get something without proper skill and effort is boosting, the M&S is necessarily a leech, a parasite on the smart and the hard-working.
One more question remained: how could someone leave his current state and progress higher without turning into an M&S? I mean if you do the effort and have the skill for X goal, and it is inadequate to reach Y, at the moment you set Y as a goal, you become an M&S by the above statements. The answer is humility and openness. You should be aware and make every participants aware that you are not yet there to reach the goal. You must learn and accept criticism from those who are already there, seek knowledge and balance the lack of skill with extra effort.