Carebear is a pejorative term used against those that prefer Player vs Environment servers. These players prefer completing in-game tasks without outside interference or interaction (violent or otherwise) with opposing factions. They may also complain about behaviour considered fair play or merely a minor annoyance by others, and may take griefing more seriously than other players.
The difference between PvE and PvP servers is that on PvE servers players are largely protected from attacks from other players unless they specifically choose to turn their PvP flags on. PvP servers do not allow players to turn off the PvP flag, and outside of their faction's home territories, players on these realms are vulnerable to attacks from other players at any time.
"Carebear" is a pejorative term used to suggest that players who prefer the experience on PvE realms are in some way lesser because of their preference. However, there are a number of reasons why players might choose to stick with PvE:
- They are more used to other MMOs that are mainly PvE.
- They are lore buffs that will want to complete quests to learn the game's back story.
- They do not like the behavior that some main PvP players exhibit.
- They wish to learn the game before adding the PvP element into their experience.
- They do not feel as if they have sufficient knowledge and/or gear available to play a PvP battle effectively.
- They have "Real ID" friends that also play mainly PvE (or play on the same PvE server).
- They just see PvE elements to be a more fulfilling experience for them.
Note that playing mainly as PvE is not considered to be a detriment to the player, as everyone has a particular preference, though players are encouraged to participate in some PvP experiences as a way to "get their feet wet" in the mechanics. Being on a PvE server doesn't disqualify a character from participating in PvP play or events such as a Battleground.
The term can also be used to refer to players on PvP realms who bemoan the actions of other players on their realms. Such players may prefer PvE but choose to play on PvP realms (such as because their friends play on that server), and subsequently choose to complain about PvP elements, such as by creating forum posts demanding that Blizzard change the ruleset on PvP realms to make them less problematic for those who do not enjoy world PvP. Since this goes against the nature of PvP realms (which are set aside for those who do enjoy world PvP) this attitude is often unappreciated by PvPers.
The term "carebear" originates from the Care Bears, a set of characters originally used on greeting cards, and later featured in children's television series and films.