Piggy backing a little bit on yesterday’s post, I started thinking about why I play MMORPGs and how my reasons have changed over the years. Back when I played The Realm (1996-1999) and EverQuest, I played for fun. It was something totally new and a pastime that gave me great enjoyment simply by being able to log in and play with hundreds of other people.
My motivations gradually changed over the years. Around the time of Dark Age of Camelot I started to play because of this transcendent sense of pride and duty. Still, it was about having fun.
When World of Warcraft came around, things for the entire industry changed. I know some of you are going to reply and say how no matter what you always play for fun, but hang in there and hear me out. WoW introduced MMOs to a younger generation of gamers who don’t play for “fun” or “realm pride” or any of that — they play to be the best. That’s why raiding is successful and the arena formula works for PvP: Deciding who is the best is almost black and white.
I think it goes beyond people simply preferring to slay big monsters over decorating houses. There’s no way to say you are the best if all you do is collect resources or make hot tubs out of baubles.
Back when I was a serious WoW player, getting server first kills of major bosses and leading some of the top raiding guilds, I played to be the best. I can look back and say from experience that the mindset exists and people fall into it without even realizing what they’re doing. One day you wake up and have this epiphany that what you’re doing isn’t fun.
I’m only closing in on 30 years old, but I get the sense already that I’m one of the older players. I still have plenty of free time, but my mindset has changed completely. I’m back in that “I play for fun” mentality. Everything I do is driven by asking myself, “Is this fun?” If it’s not, I stop. This helps me squeeze enjoyment out of some games, and stops me from playing others entirely.
That’s why I ask questions about what kind of activities are available to players at the max level. I want to know that I can do something other than raid for gear three hours every night of the week. I want to know that the game is designed to make the crafting, housing, PvP, exploring, gathering, etc., experiences just as fulfilling as the raiding. I want to know that there will be many ways for me to look for the ‘fun’ without being trapped by what people expect from every MMO.