For those who don’t know, GearScore is a popular addon for World of Warcraft. As the name implies, it gives each character a score based on their gear. Better gear is a higher score.
It also has a fair amount of controversy. It’s nearly ubiquitous, and yet at the same time everyone decries it as being useless and terrible.
The issue is that GearScore is sometimes used by players to quickly evaluate other players, and that leads to problems where great players might have low scores due to for example playing a new character, while bad players might have high scores simply because they’ve been persistent or have been carried through content that they shouldn’t otherwise be capable of getting through.
It’s a perfectly valid concern, and it also misses the point. I don’t think anyone seriously considers GearScore the be-all, end-all of player assessment. What it is, however, is an excellent way to get a quick overview of someone’s achievement. When you’re assembling a pickup group for a raid, checking someone’s GearScore is quick and easy. Checking someone’s achievements is a bit more involved, not just in looking them up but even in evaluating them. And frankly achievement-checking suffers the same problems as GearScore.
Really, the only way to get a grip on someone’s abilities is to either interview them to some degree or to find someone else who can vouch for them. Neither option is particularly feasible when you’re just trying to fill the last slots in your raid and get the show started. GearScore isn’t perfect, but it’s fast and easy and good enough.
And frankly, even if you don’t use GearScore for anything else, scores are just plain fun. Everyone likes scores! And it’s fun when you reach milestones, such as breaking 4000, 5000, or 6000; or beating a friend’s score.