Roger of Contains Moderate Peril had a post last week about compartmentalisation of the playerbase in MMORPGs. The feelings expressed spoke to my own situation in all these years of online gaming. MMORPGs are very broad games and have players of all abilities and commitment levels playing in them.
Roger writes about player skill and motivation in his post:
I am motivated primarily by having fun and have never seen any game as some sort of personal trial or path to spiritual enlightenment.
This fits my primary motivation as well, I’ve never played MMORPGs as some kind of skill or reactions improvement exercise. From what I’ve seen of raiding, at least in World of Warcraft, there’s an element of this. All the players in the raid are expected to look after their characters gearing, but also to improve when necessary their gameplay skills. Watching boss strategy videos, running mythic dungeons to practice their class/spec, taking feedback from the raid leaders and working on those deficiencies in-between raids. It may all be done in a friendly tone and with a good measure of leniancy or acceptance of the limitations of others, but this kind of progress is needed if the group is to move forwards on any kind of progression. Guilds that ignore performance entirely are likely to “burn out” when stuck on the same raid fight or tier for a long period of time because not enough of the group is making these exact improvements.
Later in the post Roger writes about the experience as a non-raider of going along with the ‘B’ raid team. I’ve had a few experiences of raiding in World of Warcraft, but it never fitted with my idea of fun gameplay (ignoring pug raiding which is an entirely different beast with its own issues). I’d go along to see the story, as usually WoW storylines end in one or more raid instances, but then in going along to see the story I’d inevitably be so busy with mechanics that I wouldn’t necessarily ‘see’ much.
I am a competent enough dungeon and small-group player I would suggest. I can heal heroic and mythic (0) dungeons in World of Warcraft. Beyond that I have little interest in more ‘challenge’ – the whole mythic plus concept is alien to my reasons for gaming. My recent post on level-sync’ed Cataclysm dungeons reminded me of running those dungeons back in that expansion’s heyday. They were pretty brutal, a call back to Burning Crusade heroics, perhaps? At the time we soldiered through them but it was pretty painful given how tightly tuned some of them were.
Challenge alone, or a dislike of it, isn’t the issue here. If I’m playing in a dungeon with friends, and the group is gelling well, then I can happily take a good measure of challenging boss fights. Wipes do not deter me if there’s a chance of success and if we’re collectively having fun. I think the scheduled nature and time taken more than the skill or commitment aspects are the things that puts me off raiding the most. That and also the size of the group – so many more individuals tends to lead to more conflict and arguments. There’s also a lot of ‘banter’ in the raid groups I am aware of, such banter tends towards ‘locker room’ style humour and is really not to my tastes. Belghast posted the first Promptapalooza post for Blaugust on the subject of changing a fandom, and that’s the thing I wish we could change about online gaming fandoms – the macho put-down culture. It so easily goes too far.
I do a lot of meetings and project organisation at work, so for my hobby and freetime to be dominated by scheduled ‘fun’ really isn’t for me. Granted I’ve had regular tabletop RPG games for weeks or months at a time, but that’s not a high-performance gaming situation and the groupsize is much smaller. If I want the large group boss fight experience, I can get my fill from world boss fights, public quests or zone-wide activities in a number of different MMORPGs. All of that avoids the need for group organisation, loot rules, disagreements over who will tank or heal and the like.
Several friends have been really keen on joining the raiding scene in World of Warcraft Classic. But to me it’s just another exercise in appointment gaming, so I’m not that tempted…