Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Why MMORPGs are as Contradictory as Our Views on Life, and we Love Them Still

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are ludicrous because they set up the same hypocritical, contradictory expectations we have in life in a game world, and then we fall headlong for it.

  • Everyone is equal. This is made true on a religious level because all you have is your account, your monthly payment, and your invested playtime. Buying gold outside the game is seen as bad because this breaks the equality bit and invites the outside world of "Other people have more money than I do."
  • Everyone can reach lofty goals. Nevermind the fact that it's not true, it is important that you do not tell people that they are worth less than others, even if it's true.
  • Clear directions on where to go, and what to do. Most people in the real world aren't leaders, or, by definition, even very smart - they like clear instructions, from a General, a dictator, a body of Government, or their daily job. But they want to think that, given the right opportunity, they could do so much better, like what they see on TV! And MMO's present that equal playing base - or so they like to think. This is another reason the masses hate the hardcore players who blaze through the game - they don't do it following the instructions.
The truth is...
  • Human beings don't want to believe others are more important than them - the selfish gene tells them they are the most important (this impulse which becomes thought can be overridden).
  • Human beings don't want to think they can't achieve great things, that would be conflicting with the above. Everyone is vaguely aware of IQ - intelligence quotients - but try not to think about it, or try to think of why it doesn't matter (they're partly right, but EQ - emotional quotient - solves that problem, and I've never met an IQ meaning minimizer who knew about it).
  • Because most people aren't stunning intellectuals or even particularly decisive, they like to have their decisions fed to them, and think "That sounds right!" But they don't want to admit that - at least not in the United States of America, land of the free (thinkers).
Now I will ramble. This was written before the above was more clearly thought out... feel free to stop. I display it only because I like giving my readers access to some of my research.

I tried some World of Warcraft Private Servers
No, really, it's stupid... and not just because I can only connect to the very first private server I connected to and no other.

I logged into a "High XP" server, which apparently grants much less XP than "Funservers" and got to sixth level in 12 kills, finding the next Defias bandit that was about my level each time I could. All I had on me was the gear they dropped.

Every NPC in the world had a conversational link to the Auction House, which had nothing in it, which lead me directly to my problem - as much as I'd like to see level 60 for virtually no work playing by myself without jackholes, MMO's don't function without other people.

I set WoW up on my wife's computer as well, so I'll try that and see how it goes as I didn't connect to any private servers yet.

MMO's Are Still Stupid
The experience was great for identifying to me why MMO's are stupid: all games become repetative, and MMO's survive by, largely, keeping a carrot in front of your face (whether or not you can ever get that carrot, such as Warlord on WoW PvP), and social interaction. Big world, lots to do, clear directions.

MMO's, at their core, are hallow. You can't take the stuff with you, and people only want you for your stuff. Think I'm lying? How many people have level 1 characters whom their "friends" are willing to game with no matter how low level you are, help you out, and never "expect" you to make them a profit back one day, return the favor, if not to them, to the guild? If you can find that, you are likely playing with your brother, or your father. Even real life friends can't be bothered to follow you around, predominantly.

MMO's main reward is stuff, they say - makes me wonder if Dove's love of MMO's is partly related to him being able to figure out what to do with his character and the interaction he gets with the people in the game - whether he chains death to a plot NPC that low levels need or talks with his guild - it's not about the carrots for him, it's about those most fascinating to play with creatures - humans. It's the same law of Multiplayer Versus games - a human is always more thought provoking than a computer AI. Computer software has yet to demonstrate volition, only reaction.

That's not to say stuff isn't fun, every friend I have who plays MMO's (my cousin Paul, Kevin, Dove) like their stuff to varying degrees. It's that only two of them "get it." Paul is quite trapped by stuff, he works hard for his stuff, he grinds his stuff, it's all there is, and every "friend" he has in WoW is merely another WoW player who is great at getting stuff fast. Uh huh. I call that not being self-aware.

I'm sure Blizzard should baninate my account, which would be great, because it got hijacked and I only realized it when I started getting e-mails from their GMs about what I (wasn't) doing on an account I (wasn't) using. It's probably already banned. Maybe they can ban it again.