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Benfea's Avatar

03.13.2012 , 08:31 PM | #1
One curious thing about MMORPGs is that each game develops its own player "culture" over time.

For instance, we all know what the player culture of World of Warcraft was like: delighted in its own immaturity, full of mean-spiritedness in the game, prone to outlandish theatrics on the official forums (even by MMORPG standards, which is really saying something), but on the plus side the player population was so large that you stood a good chance of finding a guild of like-minded people, which allowed you to have your own social space in which you could ignore the large number of idiots in the game.

Star Trek Online is (by my experiences) the polar opposite of WoW. Because of the intellectual property, the game was full of non-gamers who were there just because they were Star Trek fans. While this occasionally made gameplay annoying as you had to explain basic concepts to the random people you ended up grouping with, the community overall is surprisingly mature and considerate (at least by MMORPG standards). Were it up to me, I would love to recreate that here.

Warhammer Online is actually my motivation for posting this thread. I really liked the game itself, but ultimately left because I could not stand some of the quirks of the player culture there. Overall, the player culture was more mature than WoW, but WAR players tend to heap abuse on healer characters in much the same way WoW players heap abuse on DPS characters (even when it isn't warranted). Even after I stopped playing healer characters myself, I couldn't stand watching the other healers being treated that way, so I left. The strange thing is, they spent as much time complaining about the lack of healers as they did heaping abuse on healers, and every time I tried to explain to them why hardly anyone wanted to play healer characters, they got mad at me. If you have any familiarity with the cultural peculiarities of other MMORPGs, you'll know how bizarre this behavior is.

Anyway, this game is still somewhat new. We are still in the process of shaping the "culture" that will ultimately develop in this game.

I know this sounds corny, but please take a few moments to think about this. (It wouldn't hurt to use this thread as an opportunity to talk about what kind of community we would like to be, then resolve to encourage certain behaviors on the forums and in the game.)

I think as a genre, MMORPGs were misnamed. I mean, hardly anyone actually roleplays in these things, and the few who try are often mocked for it. I think the genre should have been called "social gaming" because other people are the most important part of any game of this type. People gravitate to certain MMORPGs not because those MMORPGs are necessarily better, but because that is where all their friends happen to be. People will stay with a MMORPG long after they stop finding it fun, and avoid seeking new games simply because all their friends are there. The friendships you make in game, the guild you join, and the random people you meet in the game all have a sizable impact on how much you enjoy the game.

In MMORPGs, other people matter. A lot.

This is kind of unfortunate, given that most of us who enjoy this sort of game are nerds. Most nerds are... socially awkward and maybe not so good at this social stuff. When social things don't quite go our way, we have a tendency to flip everyone off and climb back into our personal cocoons to lick our wounds.

Meh. Enough with this wall of text. Can we please talk about what kind of community we might like to have, and what steps we might take to shape our community into something we would enjoy participating in?
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga