This story is truly the foundation for the giant anger cannon that I point towards most mods -- they have the uncanny ability to turn an intelligent person into a gibbering, directions-following idiot. No longer is the game about figuring things out for yourself, as we're quite happy to have a piece of code do all of that "hard thinking" for us.
Your number is bad, therefore you are bad
I'm not against mods that increase the functionality of the game where the game needs it. Heck, I'm not even truly against mods at all. I'm against what people do with mods and how mods rapidly influence the social dynamic in games for the worse.
You don't have this set of mods? Don't bother to come on raids then. My mod says you can't handle yourself in instance X? Well then you're not invited to my group. You don't have Quest-Auto-Complete-9000? Then you're too slow for my group, get out.
What ever happened to actually just playing the game? I went on raids with Deadly Boss Mods installed but mostly disengaged, simply because I didn't actually need a giant piece of text telling me to get out of the way of a giant flame wall, or to recognize when a boss was about to do something evil. (Because, you know, their attacks aren't keyed to their "tagline phrases" at all. No, that would be too easy.) I had learned the fights through trial and error, and I think that made me into a better player over all.
Even worse, we have segregation in our communities thanks to mods like GearScore, which judges you on your items and gives you a score. Sure, the mod itself says that this number is nothing more than a guideline, and true power comes down to player skill and not gear, but many people don't seem to read that part. They just go on what GearScore says, and that's that. They don't give the player a shot, they don't try to make connections, and all they do is reduce everyone around them into a number. A number that says "good" or "bad."
Never mind that I saw a lesser-equipped druid once out-heal a highly equipped priest in WoW. And that time where I off-tanked Archivon (and succeeded) with crappy pre-heroic gear never happened either. And I'm sure that you guys have plenty of stories where you did something amazing, even when the numbers were stacked against you.
All I'm saying is this: Mods are not mandatory to playing the game. No mod should ever, ever be mandatory. They may help you, they may provide entertainment, or they may clean something up that you didn't like. What they should not do is play the game for you. Because, as I said in another column so long ago, if the only thing you like about MMOs is leveling up and getting phat l00ts, then boy, do I have the perfect game for you.
Seraphina Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who lies about her installed mods. She's all natural. she's rambling on her personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message her, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter through Massively, or through her personal feed, @sera_brennan.