Healing through DPS
I was out to test the new smite-healing spec. With a combination of talents and glyphs, the Discipline priest converts their smite spell from a modest nuke into a smart heal that never misses, can be spammed indefinitely, generates mana and a healing buff, and incidentally still does modest amounts of damage.
The intent appears to be a character that plays like a DPS who is doing a bit of off-healing on the side. The smite spam deals with topping off incidental damage to the party, so you're only watching for situations that require more attention (e.g. an instant Power Word: Shield followed by a Penace instant/channeled heal). It's not any more difficult to play than being a DPS was back in my raiding days, when I had to keep myself out of the fire and occasionally watch the raid for curses to remove. If anything, it was a bit too effective, in that I really could have coasted through the instance (Scarlet Monestary GY on level) by just spamming the smite key.
Incentives will not motivate DPS to heal...
Before Tobold dragged 18th century German Philosopher Immanuel Kant into a discussion on whether it's morally wrong to queue for WoW dungeons as a DPS, he suggested that "Blizzard isn't rewarding tanks and healers enough for taking their social responsibility". I Kant say I'm qualified to evaluate the philosophical question, but the incentive question is more my area, and I don't think Tobold's idea is going to work.
Tobold doesn't specify exactly what reward he would like Blizzard to hand out to good team players, but I'm presuming he means loot since tanks and healers already have shorter queue times, and since he suggests that Blizzard could alternately dock rewards for overpopulated roles (DPS). The recent history of MMO's in general, and WoW in particular, suggests that loot is particularly ill-suited to this goal.
For example, PVP rewards have been effective in getting players to AFK instanced battlegrounds, but have done very little to encourage players to cooperate with a team in the hopes of actually winning the battleground match. In fact, just last month Blizzard managed to demonstrate that a large enough honor reward will convince players to deliberately throw world PVP matches without any in-game means of communicating their intent to do so to the other faction.
Lest you think that this trend is specific to PVP, you need look no further than the PVE dungeon finder. Raid quality loot was able to motivate players to zerg down trivial Wrath-era heroics with complete strangers each and every day for a year, but it did absolutely nothing to convince players that they want any part of this activity if it actually becomes difficult or time consuming. (Thus, the current situation.) In fairness, the minimal need to actually tank and heal the mob probably ensures that players won't be able to AFK their way to the Tobold bonus, but I have every confidence that WoW's exploitative community will find a way to subvert any system that Blizzard implemented in this department.
(Perhaps a trio of hybrid characters can run the dungeon as DPS and votekick the tank and healer with the final boss at 1%, nominating themselves as the new tank and healers to ninja the bonus loot? Stranger schemes have been tried. A more pedestrian approach might simply be to ignore Heroics for a patch or two until they can be trivialized with raid gear, which seems to be more or less what's actually happening.)
... But making healing fun might.
All of which brings us back to WoW's discipline priest, which is actually in good company these days. Rift has at least two souls that I'm aware of - the Rogue Bard and the Mage Chloromancer - that also heal by doing ranged DPS, and I think there's a melee healer in there somewhere. Warhammer also put a fair amount of work into DPS-like healer archetypes. I seem to recall hearing that Guild Wars 2 was going to eliminate dedicated healing altogether, though I haven't been following that plan closely enough to know if it's still being implemented.
(Interestingly, the Warhammer Chaos Zealot is the only other class I've ever actually used to heal in an MMO, and it also focused on instant casts. This makes me wonder if my main reservation about healing is a UI issue; let me ignore a few of the health bars with a smart heal, or remove some of the lag between when I notice someone is taking damage and when they start regaining HP by letting me use instant cast spells, and I actually start to enjoy healing..)
As long as this particular spec remains viable, I am never going to queue this character as a DPS instead of a healer. This is not because of the queue times (which don't bother me while leveling alts, since I can usually go level while I wait) or because of the incentives (which are identical), but because I enjoyed this particular style of healing more than DPS. Somehow, approaching the tank and healer shortage by addressing the design issues that make these roles less fun to play seems more productive than branding the majority (60+%) of players as selfish and immoral for failing to enjoy the current design of tanking and healing in MMO's.
Immanuel Kant may or may not believe that it is immoral for a gnome mage to use the dungeon finder, because he cannot switch to another role to meet the group's needs.