I was playing in an unnamed MMO this afternoon and asked a particularly loaded question: “Is the goal of the game pretty much to get to the end and raid for better loot?” Whew! The responses I received.
My favorite response was, “Huh? Isn’t that what you do in every MMO?” There was a legitimate innocence to this individual’s confusion as though he truly was confused by my question.
I used to be the type to want to save this person’s soul. I used to think it was my duty to educate this person about the other side, the other options, the experiences he or she may have never even known exist. I have since learned it’s impossible to do such things in MMO chat channels, and prefer to do so here on my blog. But the more I think about it, maybe he’s right.
Let’s assume someone started playing MMOs when WoW came out, and this person probably only plays the most popular or new MMOs and rides the same wave we all do. I guess there really aren’t any examples of non-raiding end-game. The same can be said about quest-driven leveling, capture the flag pvp, instanced dungeons, etc. There aren’t any modern examples to contradict or oppose the themepark model — at least none you can seriously bring up in a conversation with the masses.
Millions and millions of people have only ever known one way of playing MMOs. To them, this is what an MMO is all about. This really is what you do in every MMO. Since that’s all they know, that’s all they want. And since that’s all they want, that’s all MMO devs deliver. Since that’s all devs deliver, we get the same recycled/cloned game year after year.
MMOs weren’t always about combat. Combat was just one of many ways to ‘play’. MMOs weren’t always about getting loot to progress. We used to spend years learning new skills and leveling up. In some games we never even had levels! I could decorate my house in some MMOs and never worry about being judged as “casual;” having a nice house used to mean people looked up to you. Having a good reputation used to be more valuable than all the gold in the world because people traded in social currency and cared what other people thought of them.
That sounds nothing like the MMOs we play today. It’s no wonder the people get all confused when someone questions the status quo. If only they knew that’s how we got to where we’re at today.