I read a great post on Terra Nova this morning, about why some people studiously avoid MMOs. At a time when MMOs like WoW are taking over the known universe (and I say that only somewhat facetiously), why is it that some people are not only unfamiliar with these games, but actually purposely avoid them? The post on Terra Nova talks about many of the reasons, and it’s a really well-written and interesting post.
I’d like to give my personal responses to some of the theories presented, just for the hell of it.
“Some people simply refuse to play a monthly fee on top of paying for a game. ”
Fair enough. However, there is a pretty fun MMO out there that does not have a monthly fee – Guild Wars. The last expansion was awesome, and while the box itself was expensive, so are standalone RPGs like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I guess this is just a matter of preference for most people, like satellite radio: I pay for Sirius, and enjoy it very much, but a large part of the population still can’t imagine paying for radio. Just like way back in the day, people couldn’t imagine paying for television when cable started. I think most people would come around, if this was their only anti-MMO bias.
“…people donâ€™t feel like they have the time for an MMO, even if they spend lots of time playing videogames otherwise.”
Well there’s some validity to that concern, though many games make it a lot easier now for the casual player. I think the key here is, plenty of people DO spend lots of time playing other types of games, and if they really analyzed the time spent on those games vs. the time they’d spend in an MMO, they’d see that it equals out, for the most part. I certainly feel the pain of time investment myself, now that I have a baby. But I’ve found it’s still fun and easy to get in some meaningful time in the evenings after she goes to sleep, and sometimes on weekends when my better half takes over. Let’s be honest – when you have a job and responsibilities, you’re never going to spend hours and hours playing ANY game!
“Tied to the previous issue is the idea that oneâ€™s time is not oneâ€™s own in an MMO. For a lot of people, having to adhere to a guildâ€™s schedule or priorities is a responsibility they are unwilling to take on. ”
I feel the pain there too, and all I can say is, “choose your friends wisely.” The thing is, for every serious raiding guild in a game like WoW, there’s another guild made up of people who are casual, don’t want to spend hours raiding, and just want to have fun together. You just have to keep looking until you find them.
“A lot of people complain that it is too hard to just jump into an MMO and start playing.”
I remember my first MMO (DAOC) and what it was like when I started – I was a real “noob” and knew nothing. However, I found that people were generally kind to me and even helped me out, as long as I was polite, respectful, and patient. I see this from the experienced point of view now – if a noob asks questions in a polite way, doesn’t beg, doesn’t shout in all caps, and generally acts in ways that would be considered appropriate in any online or real forum, I’m willing to help them. This is not limited to the MMO world – anyone who’s participated on an online message board or forum pretty much knows how to act (and how NOT to act) in order to gain people’s respect and cooperation.
“Although itâ€™s appealing to play with others, it is a double-edged sword in a level-based system where people have to play at a similar rate in order to be able to continue to play with each other.”
The author on T-N points to the sidekicking system of City of Heroes as one solution to this problem, and that’s a good one. I wish more MMOs had options like that. On the other hand, I’ve found that most of my friends in MMOs have alts of various levels, and no matter what level I am it’s usually possible to find someone to play with.
“Many standard videogame players, especially those attracted to adventure/RPG genres, perceive that MMO gameplay is extremely non-linear with too few concrete goals…”
I guess I just disagree with that. I mean, if you’re into first person shooters or platformers I could see where you might have this complaint. However, if you’re already into RPGs, then you’re used to a certain amount of open-endedness. The solution to this, if true, is to quest. WoW has bar none the best questing system of any game, and will give a player all the linear progression they can handle.
“A LOT of people fear becoming addicted…”
If you have an addictive personality, you can become addicted to any kind of game, not just an MMO. Maybe gaming is not for you, if that’s the case! Even so, I’ve found that game addictions are usually temporary. Everyone burns out eventually, and it doesn’t require losing a job/spouse/home to do it!
“Finally, many non-MMO gamers think that MMOs mean, by definition, PvP, or more accuratel,y open PK-ing.”
Obviously a misconception, and I guess the only way to get around that is to spread the word that not every MMO is full of PK-ers, and most MMOs, even the ones that DO feature PK-ing, are now designed in such a way as to protect those who are just starting out.
It was an interesting article on Terra Nova and a fascinating topic to those of us who do enjoy MMOs. I personally can’t imagine going back to playing only offline, solo games. I recently got into the closed beta for WoW’s upcoming expansion, The Burning Crusade, and I had so much fun this weekend (even with all the server crashes), I’m just drooling for the January release! I guess if you’re either an MMO person or a non-MMO person, I am definitely an MMO person. But I also think there’s a little MMO person in all gamers, if they are willing to give it a try!