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Benfea's Avatar


Benfea
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

Kaphik's Avatar


Kaphik
03.13.2012 , 08:32 PM | #2
WoW is filled with more non-gamers than any other MMO, ever. That's why the sub numbers are so high, and that's why so many companies try to emulate that success. Blizzard brought non-gamers into the world of online gaming by making MMORPGs more accessible.

Benfea's Avatar


Benfea
03.13.2012 , 08:37 PM | #3
Suggestion: in every MMORPG I've played, roleplayers got mocked, often mercilessly. Even on servers supposedly set aside especially for roleplayers. I am not a roleplayer myself, but can we try to not be mean to roleplayers and speak out against those who are? At the very least you could point out to the mockers that we are playing a game whose genre is named after what roleplayers do.
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga

Benfea's Avatar


Benfea
03.13.2012 , 08:41 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Kaphik View Post
WoW is filled with more non-gamers than any other MMO, ever. That's why the sub numbers are so high, and that's why so many companies try to emulate that success. Blizzard brought non-gamers into the world of online gaming by making MMORPGs more accessible.
There is more than a little merit to your suggestion.

I remember thinking to myself "Why all the easymode stuff?" when I first tried it. Then reports of subscription numbers started coming in, and the reasons for those gameplay changes became abundantly clear. I didn't care for the easymode stuff, but I have to admit it gets results. Because of the easymode aspects of the game and the large population it brought, I was able to find an extremely good fit with a guild in that game and enjoyed myself immensely despite the profusion of socially malignant nimrods there.

But why would the attraction of non-gamers produce more jerks in WoW, but fewer jerks in STO? Is it just because of the intellectual property? Is there something we can do as members of the community to avoid becoming more like WoW?
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga

Hebrind's Avatar


Hebrind
03.13.2012 , 08:44 PM | #5
I would like to see a community who takes time to get their facts straight before tip-tap-tapping away at their keyboard like they're being paid by the word.

I'd like to see a community who, instead of touting snarky comments straight from 4Chan, actually has an intellectual conversation about why the OP thinks something is wrong/right, and make valid, objective points out it.

I would like a community who knows the difference between SUBjectivity, amd OBjectivity. If you don't, please feel free to look them up.

I would like a community that, instead of frothing at the mouth about every single hurdle BioWare and EA fail to jump over, to concisely and calmly point out that it's not right instead of going into an all-caps rage every time a Sorcerer beats them in PVP or something.

I would like a community who, instead of berating each other and trying to play out their own little courtroom dramas in forum threads, to actually get along. Instead of scanning a post to find the buzzwords, actually take the 5 minutes to take it on board, and think of a suitable answer.

I'd like a community that throws off the shackles of internet memes, appallingly dull and vacuous sites such as 4Chan or 9GAG, and cast aside their prejudices against other members of the community - whatever the background.

I'd like a community who used manners - "please", "thankyou", and maybe even a "sorry" once in a while wouldn't kill them. It might even make them look more respectable!

A man can dream, eh?
*Bweeeeeeeee biddleboddle boopboop!*

Benfea's Avatar


Benfea
03.13.2012 , 08:49 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Hebrind View Post
I would like to see a community who takes time to get their facts straight before tip-tap-tapping away at their keyboard like they're being paid by the word.

I'd like to see a community who, instead of touting snarky comments straight from 4Chan, actually has an intellectual conversation about why the OP thinks something is wrong/right, and make valid, objective points out it.

I would like a community who knows the difference between SUBjectivity, amd OBjectivity. If you don't, please feel free to look them up.

I would like a community that, instead of frothing at the mouth about every single hurdle BioWare and EA fail to jump over, to concisely and calmly point out that it's not right instead of going into an all-caps rage every time a Sorcerer beats them in PVP or something.

I would like a community who, instead of berating each other and trying to play out their own little courtroom dramas in forum threads, to actually get along. Instead of scanning a post to find the buzzwords, actually take the 5 minutes to take it on board, and think of a suitable answer.

I'd like a community that throws off the shackles of internet memes, appallingly dull and vacuous sites such as 4Chan or 9GAG, and cast aside their prejudices against other members of the community - whatever the background.

I'd like a community who used manners - "please", "thankyou", and maybe even a "sorry" once in a while wouldn't kill them. It might even make them look more respectable!

A man can dream, eh?
I think frequently reminding people (as tactfully as possible of course) to be more constructive would go a long ways towards much of what you suggest.

As for avoiding 4Chan memes, I'm not sure I'm willing to get my hopes up.
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga

Hebrind's Avatar


Hebrind
03.13.2012 , 08:55 PM | #7
I properly hate 4Chan. Utterly loathe and abhor it. It's such a convoluted place of filth, anarchy, casual and active online bullying, racism, prejudice and depression! I went there a grand total of twice. Never again, never looked back. I mean, I don't use the word "Hate" lightly, I reserve it for very few things in my life:

War.
Famine.
Violence.
Eggs.
Headaches.
Running out of milk.
4Chan.

That's the list!
*Bweeeeeeeee biddleboddle boopboop!*

Benfea's Avatar


Benfea
03.13.2012 , 08:56 PM | #8
I am part of another message board, which I will not name for fear of instigating a debate that has nothing to do with what I want to discuss in this thread.

This particular message board is very heavily and rigorously moderated. I thought I would hate such an environment, but the discussions there are surprisingly deep and informative despite touching on topics that frequently make people, well, touchy.

One of the main ways this is achieved is that the moderators there vigorously enforce one rule above all others, something that comes from scientific debates and which is generally not seen in debates among the general public: always attack the IDEA, but never the PERSON.

At this message board, any and all attacks on ideas are permissible, even fairly vicious attacks. However, the moment anyone steps over the line even a tiny bit into personal attacks, that person gets slapped hard by the moderators. I have been slapped quite a few times for crossing that line (I am part of the majority view there, so my perception is not just the result of an insular community expressing content-bias), and instead of getting mad for getting slapped, I really do appreciate it for the results the moderators there are able to achieve.

We cannot force the moderators here to moderate a certain way (it may even be unethical to try), but we can offer constant reinforcement within threads by encouraging people to attack ideas and not the people presenting the ideas. If we can enforce this rigorously enough, I truly believe it will have a large effect on the quality of discussions here.
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga

Hebrind's Avatar


Hebrind
03.13.2012 , 09:06 PM | #9
I do certainly think the signposting of the "rules of conduct" could be much more clearly displayed, and I do think that moderators, most of the time, are fairly good at what they do. However, I do think that there needs to be a degree of self-moderation, and I'm sorry, but I really don't think the playerbase en masse has it in them to be given that amount of responsibility.

As much as I would like to see a cleaner, fresher, more intellectual and deep place of conversation, as you say - I really don't hold out much hope. There's just so many variables; had a bad day at the office? Come to the TOR forums and snipe at people. Just split up with your girlfriend? It's TOR's fault, and anyone who says otherwise or gets in your way eats word-bullets.

As I type this, it becomes clear to me that as far as MMOs go, unless you're reporting a problem in the "Bugs and glitches" section, you don't want to touch the online community with a 10-foot pole. I'm only here myself because I believe fervently in what you say and suggest. Perhaps I'm being harsh. Perhaps I'm being lenient, that's for the readers and the people who digest the threads to decide.

But honestly? I don't know. I truly wish it could change, but sadly, forums are usually a fairly good cross-section of society. And society has got it's fair share of dross.
*Bweeeeeeeee biddleboddle boopboop!*

Benfea's Avatar


Benfea
03.13.2012 , 09:09 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Hebrind View Post
I do certainly think the signposting of the "rules of conduct" could be much more clearly displayed, and I do think that moderators, most of the time, are fairly good at what they do. However, I do think that there needs to be a degree of self-moderation, and I'm sorry, but I really don't think the playerbase en masse has it in them to be given that amount of responsibility.

As much as I would like to see a cleaner, fresher, more intellectual and deep place of conversation, as you say - I really don't hold out much hope. There's just so many variables; had a bad day at the office? Come to the TOR forums and snipe at people. Just split up with your girlfriend? It's TOR's fault, and anyone who says otherwise or gets in your way eats word-bullets.

As I type this, it becomes clear to me that as far as MMOs go, unless you're reporting a problem in the "Bugs and glitches" section, you don't want to touch the online community with a 10-foot pole. I'm only here myself because I believe fervently in what you say and suggest. Perhaps I'm being harsh. Perhaps I'm being lenient, that's for the readers and the people who digest the threads to decide.

But honestly? I don't know. I truly wish it could change, but sadly, forums are usually a fairly good cross-section of society. And society has got it's fair share of dross.
None of us can solve this problem. If enough of us work together, the best we can hope for is to vaguely steer the community in a certain direction. However, as interactions between other people matters in this type of game, even a small change would be welcome.

If you feel it is not worth your effort, that is certainly your call to make. That is certainly the decision most people will make whether or not they read this thread. However, if everyone makes that decision, then this community will remain what you describe. The other way there is at least a chance for improvement however small.

It starts by remembering that the other person matters, even if they are being a jerk.
"It's great to be known, but it's even better to be known as strange."
-Takeshi Kaga