This is an opinion piece and is not an official OutDPS! position.
Are we obligated to do min-maxed dps? We may want to for any number of reasons, but is there also a moral impetus?
Let’s begin with a definition. Min-maxing our damage involves lopsided gameplay. You make the things that get in the way of your dps or the things that take resources away from it as small as possible. On the other hand, you also maximize the things that help your dps, prioritizing those things that help the most.
Also, let’s lay out some premises. We’re moral agents: we do dps and are aware that we do it. Therefore, we are responsible for our own dps. We also do our work in a social context: in raids we perform a role that depends on other roles and that other roles depend on. Therefore, we are responsible to others, just as others are responsible to us.
Does this responsibility for ourselves and to others at all contribute to an obligation to min-max our performance? I define an obligation as a directive to behavior willfully undertaken (like a contract).
We may have some specific obligations to do min-maxed dps. When we join a guild, our consent to its rules is implied if not overtly given. If a guild has a rule requiring min-maxing then we are obliged to perform it in relevant guild settings. This is because there is the tacit contract where required behavior is exchanged for access to group benefits (like boss loot, a guild bank, etc.). This constitutes an obligation.
Yet, are there any imperatives for min-maxing that exist regardless of raid rules? That is, should we min-max even if we aren’t in a guild setting? If we’re in a raid pug or cross-server heroic? We may say that a tacit contract exists in any group setting, suggesting obligation. By consenting to be part of a group, we are all operating under the assumption that each other member will do their job. We are therefore consenting to contribute our dps so long as others contribute their skills. We communicate this willingness to others by the mere act of joining the group. Obligation derives from this expression of commitment, whether we like it or not.
Yet, this obligation relates to adequately performing a job, not necessarily min-maxing. Absent specific rules, it initially appears that we are obliged to do no more than our share of what is necessary to down the boss. The issue, I think, is knowing what is necessary dps, knowing this minimum standard. Put more broadly, we need to be concerned with our level of uncertainty.
What can uncertainty arise from? You may be on a progression boss and you don’t know what it takes to down it. You may be raiding with new people, and so you may not be sure how much work you will have to put in. Keep in mind that high levels of certainty in some areas will compensate for low levels in others: not knowing anyone in your random heroic is compensated for by the fact that you know the heroic’s bosses are easy.
All of these causes of uncertainty (and others) will lead a known adequate value of dps to be instead a range of possibly adequate values of dps. It might be the case that 3k is enough or that 6k is enough as your share, you don’t know. But because you must do your best to ensure that you job if performed adequately regardless, you have to put out 6k when that value is a reasonable expectation for adequate dps. The greater the uncertainty about the encounter, the more likely it is that your min-maxed dps will be within the threshold of possibility for required dps. Thus, the greater the uncertainty, the more likely you will be obliged to min-max in order to ensure your shared of the dps is performed adequately.
There are then two possible causes for min-maxing that exist in any group setting: a known need or requirement for maximized damage and high levels of uncertainty. In either of the two cases, by participating in the group you are obliged to min-max.
What happens if others break the tacit contract? If others are not performing their jobs adequately, are you still required to do yours? The answer is no. However, you may still want to. Even if others are not performing their jobs, you will still have other incentives to put effort into bringing the boss down: guild rules, loot, emblems, showing off, setting a good example, enjoyment of doing dps, etc.