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MMOGS: Abandon hope all ye who enter

By Tex Bigballs in Culture
Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:00:38 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

Inspired by Sony's successful Everquest franchise, and recently made even more notable by Blizzard's wildly popular World of Warcraft, gaming companies struggle to compete for extremely lucrative MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) market share. Unlike traditional video games, MMOGs provide publishers with a steady revenue stream from monthly subscriptions and sales of expansion packs. The interesting thing about MMOG games, as opposed to traditional video games, is that they are almost entirely driven by the player's social need. Unfortunately, the method that MMOGs use to satiate a player's social need is what makes these games dangerously addictive.

The MMOG Philosophy

MMOGs are by no means the very first instance of multiplayer gaming. However, like all multiplayer gaming, there exists a framework by which a player differentiates his or her self from the rest. In a traditional game like Unreal Tournament or Starcraft, the method for ranking players exists almost entirely in terms of skill. Thus, the player with faster reflexes, better coordination and a better sense of tactics will generally outperform and defeat a player with comparably lesser skills.

Unfortunately, multiplayer games such as Unreal Tournament and Starcraft have become so dominated with extremely skilled players, that people of generally weak or average reflexes and coordination have absolutely no hope of enjoying any success whatsoever on public servers.

Instead of distinguishing players based on human skill, MMOGs use a much different method. The only thing that separates the weakest MMOG player from the strongest is the amount of time he or she invests in the game. Combat in an MMOG is typically resolved with hardly any intervention from the player, aside from clicking a few buttons every half-minute or so. Lightning reflexes and sharp coordination are not important, thus making these games very accessible to a general audience. This, in conjunction with MMOGs strong social component, also explain why a greater percentage of females enjoy this genre over traditional skill-based games.

What Makes the Games Work

Personal vanity is the most important driving force to an MMOG player. Every player would like his or her character to be more powerful than the next. The goal of the game developer is even more clear. They would like the player to spend as much time playing their game as possible because their revenues are based on monthly subscriptions. In practice, these two goals brilliantly complement each other. Game developers perfectly understand how to exploit player vanity to maximize the amount of time players "invest" in their game.

In terms of simple game mechanics, typically two things differentiate a weak player, or "newbie", from a powerful player. These two components are levels and equipment/items.

Levels are gained simply by killing monsters. In most MMOGs this involves simply killing the same monsters over and over again, which eventually yields levels. This process is very obvious, predictable and repetitive, and for that reason receiving levels is a typically underwhelming experience. Players refer to this as "grinding" or "the levelling treadmill" and it is generally viewed as nothing more than a necessary evil to advance their status in the game. Still, levelling is a very effective timesink for developers to keep players active in their game.

Instead, the prospect of gaining items and equipment is the true crack to keep players hooked on the game. In a graphical MMOG, what equipment a player owns is readily obvious to other players because individual equipment pieces are displayed on the character. Players who are familiar with the game know which equipment is weak "gimpy" and which equipment is rare and powerful "uber phats." Consequently, players who have weak equipment are generally mocked and derided, while powerfully-equipped players are respected and sometimes, quite literally worshipped by their peers.

Equipment is the most effective way the developers have of satiating players' vanity thus rewarding those who invest the most time playing the game. Obviously, if the most powerful equipment were readily and easily available, then every player would be identically equipped and appear exactly the same. Players would not be rewarded with any sense of elitism or accomplishment, and they would grow bored and move on to something else.

Therefore, the most powerful equipment generally takes huge amounts of time for players to earn. Monsters may only produce an item very occasionally when they are killed (rare drops.) Or the monsters may be so powerful that it takes large teams of dozens of players to kill them (known as "raids") In this case, players will have to attend many raids so that they can take turns receiving the loot. Usually, these two developer techniques are used together to ensure that very top-end items involve a substantial commitment of time by the player. Since rare equipment rewards are usually quite unexpected, acquiring a rare item produces a wonderful feeling of accomplishment for the player and envy from his or her friends. Unfortunately however, this feeling of accomplishment is fleeting since there is always the next piece of equipment to be had.

The Psychological Effect

Most MMOGs charge somewhere around $15 per month. In terms of dollars spent per hour of entertainment provided, one would be hard-pressed to think of anything that even comes close. Unfortunately, the real danger of these games arises from the fact that they demand insane amounts of time to achieve any sort of reasonable success. The casual person who only plays several hours per week can never hope to develop a respected character on an MMOG.

Conversely, the hardcore player who invests every minute of time they possibly can into the game will achieve huge success and see quite obvious results in the development of their character. After time, the powerful player will notice that their peers no longer treat them with indifference and apathy but now with great respect and admiration. In an MMOG, you are your level and you are your equipment. And since the servers are always running, one can ill-afford to take a break from the game, lest they be surpassed by their online rivals.

Additionally, since MMOGs are largely team-oriented, the player feels compelled to avoid taking any breaks that would inconvenience his teammates. This is especially true during a large-scale raid which can last for several hours. Depending on the situation, a player might find himself lucky to sneak away from the keyboard long enough to use the restroom. It is important that a player must endeavor never to gain an unreliable reputation. The cleric who lets his team die because he had to run and answer the telephone might not get a team the next time.

Unlike traditional games, time spent playing in MMOGs is typically measured in days, not hours. When a person spends so much time playing such a game (sixteen hours per day is not uncommon), a very peculiar psychotropic effect takes place that is difficult to describe unless directly experienced. In basic terms, the player begins to empathize with their online character to such an extent that their real-world self-worth and consciousness is almost completely overlaid with their character's reputation in the online game world.

For a typical hardcore MMOG player, real-life friends and relationships are eschewed in favor of online ones. Priorities shift from getting a promotion at work to camping revered magical boots. MMOGs have caused marriages to fail, jobs to be lost, children to be neglected. Many students have dropped out of college because of this powerful addiction. Any real world responsibility that impedes a hardcore MMOG player's quest for levels and equipment is treated with little patience, if it is even given any attention at all.

Because time is precious and finite, it is quite impossible to succeed in real-life and also succeed in the game. Some players will inevitably notice that their new hobby is causing them to neglect the rest of their life, and they choose to give the game up. These are the lucky ones. The true addicts will become so engrossed with the game world that the negative real-world consequences only occur in their periphery. Any people who care about this person and try to intervene in this player's addiction will be ignored in favor of their online friends who also share the same addiction and so are obviously supportive. These people become worthless husks of human flesh, another unfortunate burden for society to bear.

Additional Information

MMOG Charts - A site that attempts to track the number of players on various MMOGs over time.

Everquest Widows - A Yahoo support group for significant others of addicted MMOG players. (membership required)

Mom talks about MMOG addicted son

World of Warcraft - One of the most popular MMOGs at the moment.

Some people prefer taking the fast track to MMOG success

Incident in China where man commits murder over loss of valuable MMOG sword

You stole my cloudsong! - Amusing audio recording of a player screaming over teamspeak, apparently over the loss of some item (NSFW!)

The famous Leeroy Jenkins video - A player griefing his own guild during a raid. Some people believe this was entirely staged. (World of Warcraft)


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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Related Links
o Yahoo
o MMOG Charts
o Everquest Widows
o Mom talks about MMOG addicted son
o World of Warcraft
o Some people prefer taking the fast track to MMOG success
o Incident in China where man commits murder over loss of valuable MMOG sword
o You stole my cloudsong!
o The famous Leeroy Jenkins video
o griefing
o Also by Tex Bigballs

Display: Sort:
MMOGS: Abandon hope all ye who enter | 149 comments (121 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
+1 FP (1.00 / 6) (#2)
by I Mod Everything Up But Kitten on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 04:45:56 PM EST

by LittleZephyr on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 05:00:17 PM EST

(\♥/) What if instead of posting that comment,
(0.-) you had actually taken a knife and stabbed
("_") me in the eye? You murderer. ~ Rusty

[ Parent ]
Definitely an addiction (2.80 / 5) (#3)
by The Diary Section on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 04:52:23 PM EST

I tried EQ2 for six months until I realised what a waste of time it was and quit. I was immediately contacted by various acquaintances (some in-game, a couple who I knew in real life and got me to try it in the first place). They tried to talk me into coming back. Then they got annoyed I wasn't coming back. Fucking bizarre, I've only had the experience before when I stopped taking various drugs (actually the illegal stuff it was less bad, cigs are the one where your "smoking buddies" give you a hard time).

Theres definitely a thing where if you're hooked on something you don't want to be left alone to it. I guess because thats the choice, be alone doing X or have your friends also doing X; stopping X itself isn't on the cards.

Scary stuff indeed.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.

yeah ok, its not crack (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by The Diary Section on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 04:56:16 PM EST

but there must be thousands of people who've dropped out of university and fucked up relationships because of it.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
It is like crack (3.00 / 3) (#51)
by trane on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 04:40:33 PM EST

if crack were legal that is.

[ Parent ]
Only certain ones (none / 0) (#148)
by Boronx on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 05:17:51 PM EST

It's only the addictive drugs that are like that. I've never known a pothead to give much of a crap if his buddy quits.
[ Parent ]
+1FP rags on RPG gamers! (none / 1) (#12)
by nostalgiphile on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 08:33:16 PM EST

Well-written K5 gem of all-seeing eye, from the trenches.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
Hi, I'm Tex and... I'm a gaymer. (2.88 / 9) (#13)
by Farting in Elevators on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 08:34:34 PM EST

Hi, Tex!

What a bunch of losers (2.83 / 6) (#18)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 11:27:17 PM EST

It makes me glad that I use most my time reloading K5 and masturbating!

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
Sure, I reload K5. (3.00 / 3) (#24)
by Fen on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 01:38:23 AM EST

Masturbating is painful for me.
[ Parent ]
Loser (none / 1) (#74)
by eumenides on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 02:19:24 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Why you Dirty Little Pervert! (none / 1) (#105)
by Norwegian Blue on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:00:57 PM EST

Now that that is out of the way, what's your trick?

The polls make you hot? You make naughty anagrams of the story titles? Reading the clever sneers make you horny? The expectation that something interesting might show up any moment now drives you mad with desire?

[ Parent ]

downfall of skill based online games (2.88 / 9) (#20)
by Fuzzwah on Sun Aug 07, 2005 at 11:36:59 PM EST

The article touches briefly on the issue of skill based online games dying off due to their inability to attract new players into their "ecosystem". This is topic very near to my heart, as I'm an avid FPS junkie who has seen the cycle repeated many times in my favourite games.

MMO's warmly accept a continuously flow of new players into the ecosystems; newbs always start off in a special area where they are protected from the higher level hardcore players. It's extremely easy to differentiate based on the character's levels. As Tex pointed out, it's just a matter of investing time to work your way up the "skill" level, and all along the way the game will match you up with the correct level of enemy (be it computer controlled or player controlled).

In the land of multiplayer FPS gaming it's virtually impossible to do this. Time invested in the game doesn't result in a character level being raised, rather the actual skills of the player are increased. Highly skilled players aren't seperated from newbs, and eventually as the average skill level of all players raises it becomes harder and harder for a new player to get into the game and have any chance of doing well.

In most online FPS there's a very obvious point in it's life cycle where no new players are coming into the ecosystem. Generally because there is a new game out in the market, but also because the average skill level is so high that a new player can not join a server and have any fun.

With out the fresh current of newbs coming in, the latest entries into the system quickly find themselves on the bottom of the feeding chain. These players start looking around for the next game. The cycle continues until you're left with only the most elite players continuing to player the game.

The big difference between MMOs and FPS is the fact that in an MMO the player's time investment is locked into a character and thus to that specific game. In FPS land, a player who has considerable skill can move on to a new game with out needing to start from the bottom of the food chain, as their skills transfer.

I won't even get into why I believe Counter Strike is the exception to the rule, but I'll just point out that the more depth to a game the more skill gap between a newb and a hardcore players. Therefore the deeper the game the quicker the die off.

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris

Ratings systems (none / 1) (#27)
by sien on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 03:01:54 AM EST

Exactly this applies to games of Chess and Go on the internet.

But as these games have been around longer a system to deal with the problem of making the game difficult for differing levels of players has evolved - ratings.

The same could probably be done for FPSs. In fact, don't MS do something like this for X-Box live?

The problem of getting people to try things when others have a lot of skill in them also applies in real life for things likes sports. People try sports when they are younger but not that many people take up something like soccer later on.

[ Parent ]

X-Box live (2.50 / 2) (#38)
by monkeymind on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 10:03:41 AM EST

yes and it works. the HALO2 rating system goes a long way to dealing with the newbie vs hard core users issue. leads to much closer and more enjoyable game play.

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.
[ Parent ]

Please do (none / 0) (#34)
by stuaart on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 06:51:43 AM EST

``I won't even get into why I believe Counter Strike is the exception to the rule''

go on... I'm interested.

Linkwhore: [Hidden stories.] Baldrtainment: Corporate concubines and Baldrson: An Introspective

[ Parent ]
Me too (none / 0) (#41)
by nooper on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 12:27:55 PM EST

+1 CS

[ Parent ]
& me [nt] (none / 0) (#70)
by Aemeth on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:34:15 AM EST

...mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Bertrand Russell

[ Parent ]
me also. A riot is building <nt> (none / 0) (#94)
by The Diary Section on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:41:34 PM EST

Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
by Farting in Elevators on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 02:59:36 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Pretty much... (none / 0) (#98)
by fuchikoma on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 02:58:03 PM EST

I used to play online FPSes, and with so many years of practice, it was pretty much that I was either too lagged to even see where I was running, or things would run smoothly and I wouldn't need more than a pistol...

Regardless of skill though, they were ALL THE SAME GAME. Run around and shoot guys in the head with an assault rifle. Try another game and run around and shoot guys in the head with a plasma gun... After a while, it got really boring and cliche being thrown into a small room with a dozen other guys and frolicking in a human meatgrinder without a moment's pause. I seriously think gaming companies should have just pulled the plug on FPS development 10 years ago when they had already covered every possible angle 50 times each.

...after that, when I heard about the endless MMO grind, I jumped at the chance! At least it wasn't the same old game rebranded that I'd been playing for the last 15 or so years!

(FYI, I'm not playing much MMO or FPS now, I'm going back and playing old console games, mainly 2D fighting and racing... also tired genres, but sadly both seem to beat the aforementioned in terms of depth. Music games are also great if you can get into them because it's so rare that you actually find a new genre these days.)

[ Parent ]

Did you try Planetside ? (none / 0) (#135)
by v1z on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 09:48:00 AM EST

Assuming you have a decent connection and at least a gig of RAM, Planetside is a great massive fps experience, and it's *not* totally dominated by good players.

But then, there are no one-shot;one-kill handguns in the game (now being shot by a tank, is a different story, but that's sort of the point of a tank, isn't it ?).

There's still a gap between new players and hard-core, especially in one-on-one situations, but not so much that new players can't enjoy the game.

[ Parent ]

Battlefield 2 is trying (none / 1) (#100)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 03:14:23 PM EST

Very good point. And Tex makes a very nice distinction that I haven't made before about skill-sets vs. FPSs and MMORPGs. I'm also an avid FPS player and have noticed the same pattern.

Battlefield 2 has a persistent ranking system. You get awards, ribbons and rank by killing opponents, fixing tanks, giving out medpacks or leading the battle as a commander. Now, these medals don't really do anything, but they are viewable by anybody. The only thing that affects the game is your (military) rank, which unlocks a special weapon for a specific kit (medic, engineer, etc.).

Now, this is just the first step in making FPSs more responsive to game time invested. The special weapons are not that special that they would change the game to your favor in all cases. But I can see in the future that some FPSs will take this much further and introduce MMORPG-style grind.

"What's next, sigging a k5er quote about sigging someone on k5?"

[ Parent ]
Whore yourself to FP the James Joyce way (2.65 / 23) (#25)
by mcc on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 02:10:30 AM EST

One of the eternal certainties of Kuro5hin is that if you want to get your name on a voted-up story, all you have to do is whine about something supposedly popular-- something like, I dunno, LiveJournal, or fat people or something, or maybe Kuro5hin itself. If you go for this strategy, it doesn't matter if what you wrote is good, or insightful, or interesting, or even the tiniest bit creative. The desire within the K5 voting populace (what little of it is left) to feel snarky and briefly important by way of having angered people, the way that Natalee Halloway article made them feel, will override any tiny considerations like whether or not they read the article. So if you go for this strategy, all that matters is (1) does it have proper spelling and grammar? (2) is it long enough to look "meaty"? (3) is it whiny?

Here we have an unusually mechanical example of this technique. At first glance it seems admirable for the obsessive attention to detail with which it catalogues aspects (as seen through shit-colored goggles) of MMORPGing, an everyday, common and frankly boring activity. But at second glance one begins to realize that the thing is marked by an almost complete lack of soul or effort; the author seems to just be calling this in. One almost gets the feeling that underneath the thesis-support rhythm of the piece some kind of template is being used, or really even that portions could have conceivably just been copied and pasted (with some carefully selected word substitutions) from some kind of previous attempt at an article about bloggers or something.

Now, none of this is particularly surprising or important, and it doesn't really serve any purpose to point this out as I've done above. This isn't even so bad of a story, even.

But isn't it a bit amusing to see someone post a piece all about how much they hate online roleplaying games-- when the piece itself is basically just gaming Kuro5hin?

Whatever works ... /nt (1.50 / 4) (#31)
by dhall on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 03:16:26 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Every time someone writes an article, (2.60 / 10) (#33)
by An onymous Coward on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 05:07:35 AM EST

someone like you comes along and points out that the person did in fact mean to submit the article, with the intention that if they wrote it in a way that other people like, it passes the edit/vote queue, and it gets posted :P

Thanks for the update on how K5 works!

"Your voice is irrelevant. Stop embarrassing yourself. Please." -stuaart
[ Parent ]
most of this comment is an obvious troll (1.22 / 9) (#37)
by Tex Bigballs on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 08:07:02 AM EST

(i know because it's my business obviously)

however, the point about the article being "soulless" is valid. i tried to write it strictly as an objective analytical piece, not really advocating anything in particular. i admit this approach is less passionate than say an op-ed.

as far as the rest of this comment (for example, using templates to write this article) you don't expect Tex Bigballs of all people to actually bite on that sort of thing do you?

[ Parent ]

Wow (none / 1) (#67)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 11:43:11 PM EST

So now you're the troll police?  I saw I really offensive troll somewhere, I'd like you to go nag the person for their lack of net-iquette.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
in fairness to Mr Bigballs (2.66 / 3) (#42)
by The Diary Section on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 01:39:46 PM EST

he did write a popular diary on this subject a little while ago and this article appears to be a jazzed up version of that.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Fat people are popular? Sign me up! [n/t] (none / 0) (#120)
by grendelkhan on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 09:36:58 AM EST

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
[ Parent ]
YSMCSong has a cockpit recorder sound (none / 1) (#28)
by nlscb on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 03:03:49 AM EST

I keep expecting to hear "Bail" "Bail", or "Fuck, I got a fuckin' bogie on my tail".

Just saying.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

PS - WTF's a Cloudsong? (none / 0) (#29)
by nlscb on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 03:04:42 AM EST

Is it the Warcraft version of weapon of mass destruction?

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

some item in dark ages of camelot (1.00 / 3) (#40)
by Tex Bigballs on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 11:14:34 AM EST


has nothing to do with world of warcraft, actually

[ Parent ]

This is why I quit Ultima Online (2.50 / 2) (#39)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 10:31:15 AM EST

I played it for maybe a month or two back in college. I relied heavily on friends to understand anything or get anywhere, and then they quit anyway. After the novelty wore off the game was pretty inane. It was hard too. You had to spend tremendous amounts of time doing extremely repetitive tasks, and you could be killed and lose lots of progress easily. I think I pretty much hated the game by the time I quit.

Not the whole story (2.83 / 6) (#47)
by IHCOYC on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 04:09:50 PM EST

Combat in an MMOG is typically resolved with hardly any intervention from the player, aside from clicking a few buttons every half-minute or so. Lightning reflexes and sharp coordination are not important, thus making these games very accessible to a general audience.

The social component is also a skill cultivated by MMOGs, most of which do involve strategies, however rudimentary they may seem to fast-reflex gamers. I suspect that even with large server resources and fast Net connections, it would still be difficult to create games that are playable under these conditions on average equipment that depend strongly on fast hand-eye coordination.

Teaming is an essential character of these games; even those that can be played successfully by soloists become boring rather quickly. And, at least in the short term of a given play session, the success of the team is likely to be determined not only by the in-game skills and strategies used by the players, but also by the social dynamics and cohesiveness of the team. The makeup of the team is also important: teams consisting of the right combination of character types are usually favoure by the game mechanics over teams that contain a random selection.

The ability to negotiate the in-game social circles and assemble units of players who can succeed with these tactics is, in fact, a skill: a skill apparently given short shrift in this article. I dare say it's a more valuable and transferrable skill than the skills cultivated in Starcraft.
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit G

This is a fair comment (2.00 / 6) (#53)
by Tex Bigballs on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 04:53:41 PM EST

Actually, I agree with you 100% but generally speaking MMOGs are very approachable to people with even the most rudimentary video game skills, and I stand by my premise that success in these games is  almost completely determined by amounts of time invested. Although I grant you that some basic level of skill (managing a gui interface basically) is required.

I also agree that these games *may* develop some sort of social skills, like patience, persistence, sportsmanship, teamwork and so on, depending on the maturity of the player. I guess in fairness I could have included that point. Actually, it could make an interesting MMOG advocacy article if anyone wanted to write one.

[ Parent ]

I'd even suggest they work better than sports (none / 1) (#97)
by IHCOYC on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 02:48:32 PM EST

I also agree that these games *may* develop some sort of social skills, like patience, persistence, sportsmanship, teamwork and so on, depending on the maturity of the player. I'd even suggest they work better than sports for this purpose, and for exactly this reason: MMOGs are very approachable to people with even the most rudimentary video game skills. . . Yes, most people can work the buttons fast enough to pass, and the knowledge that enables you to choose the right skills and hunt up the right items to build a character that will succeed in fulfilling its role is widely available from many sources. This sharply contrasts with traditional athletics, which also require large investments of time and commitment to succeed in, but reward players unequally because of differences in innate aptitude they can do nothing to overcome, not even by camping a rare spawn or raiding a dangerous monster's lair.

Nobody goes around claiming that, say, basketball is addictive, even though some players and some fans may well be obsessed with the game. So computer games are supposed to be worse because they treat their players more fairly than Nature does?
"Complecti antecessores tuos in spelæis stygiis Tartari appara," eructavit miles primus.
"Vix dum basiavisti vicarium velocem Mortis," rediit G
[ Parent ]

Please play rogue on WoW (none / 0) (#73)
by actmodern on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 02:02:25 AM EST

Along with warrior, the rogue class in WoW is rather twitchy. Especially in PvP when things like Riposte are very important and can only be done after a succesfull parry.

I admit I didn't try the other classes but even the cloth wearing mages had to run around and freeze me every chance they got.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]

The non-MMORPG (2.66 / 3) (#52)
by edremy on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 04:42:09 PM EST

I bought my first MMORPG the other day- Guild Wars. I find it interesting that it violates almost every comment you make. There's a hard level cap (20) that can be reached quickly. There's no "uber character" with a perfect set of phat items. I haven't hit a mission that lasted more than about 30 minutes, although I haven't done the end game. No online fees, so people with lives can take part. (I've got a job, a wife and two kids- I can't play more than a few hours/week.)

I've stayed away from MMORPGs for exactly the reasons you mention, but this has actually been fun so far. No idea how long it will last, but I've gotten $50 of fun out of it so far.

Thats becase its not an mmorpg (none / 0) (#75)
by reiko on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 03:35:28 AM EST

unless you want to call diablo2 an mmorpg. let alone the fact d2 is a better game 1000 times over. yes i was addicted to d2 for about 2 years ><

\o/ I have nothing else.
[ Parent ]
GW = MMORPG, D2 = MORPG (none / 0) (#78)
by coder66 on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:23:01 AM EST

GW is a persistent world which is the hallmark of MMORPGs. You have the towns acting as "lobbies", due to the fact that players can permanently change the world(for their char or any who party with them and go to the places they affected). D2 online is the same as offline except with other people. The devs of GW have shied away from calling it an MMORPG because it doesn't fit alot of people's expectations, but it is in fact a MMORPG. D2 is an MORPG(No Massive, No Persistent world, just as good offline to me).

[ Parent ]
How is an entirely instanced world persistant? (none / 0) (#151)
by Wain on Tue May 23, 2006 at 10:13:12 PM EST

Only the towns are permanent.  There is no interaction with other players who aren't in your party the minute you leave town, you can't explore the world and are forced onto specific travel paths.
This sort of removes the entire Massively Multiplayer part of the game and turns it more into simply MORPG...GW is D2 with different graphics and an online requirement.

[ Parent ]
How is Diablo 2 better? (none / 1) (#90)
by Krakhan on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 10:50:33 AM EST

Having played it on and off and currently playing Guild Wars at the moment, I see Guild Wars as a game that seems to have taken the faults of Diablo 2 and several other MMORPGS released and either designed them out of existence or addressed them appropriately.

The two things that come to mind about it are how excellent the balance is for PvE (Player Vs. Environment) and PvP (Player Vs. Player). The latter is especially noticable since that can only take place between consenting players. As a wise person pointed out other forums (who also posts here), it seems the only reason that the whole PvP aspect of the game for Diablo 1/2 was tacked solely on solely for the griefers. They seem to account for a large number of Blizzard's customers.

Also, I got sick of Diablo 2 for most of the reasons mentioned in the article. You have to wonder whether going around and killing bosses repeatidly with magic find characters is really worth your time when you already have good gear, and you have nothing else to do. It just got really boring.

Guild Wars addressed that by putting less emphasis on the items you wear and more on the skills you can acquire, in addition to your own skill. As mentioned before, the hard level cap and the large amount of missions and quests makes it so that you reach it long before you beat the first chapter of the game. There's no need to take time off to level up anywhere.

But then, Guild Wars is a game more suited for casual gamers with limited time per week and those that like to actually do some thinking, so it may not be for those that like the grind and who just like to collect all the best phat loot. YMMV.

~ Krakhan
[ Parent ]

I object (2.80 / 5) (#54)
by evilmeow on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 05:13:59 PM EST

It is the duty of parents to teach their children not to accept candy from strangers, drive when drunk and do heroin. It is not the duty of the school.

It is as well the duty to the players to be reasonable, and not that of the gaming companies.

"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

Hurmm interesting (1.85 / 7) (#55)
by Tex Bigballs on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 05:15:11 PM EST

do you have any comments on the article I wrote then?

[ Parent ]
no, not really (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by evilmeow on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:01:50 AM EST

can't wait for the day you start writing about livejournal, xanga and irc so that I can have more not comments.
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
You must be a MMORPGer. (none / 0) (#57)
by i am not rmg on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 06:47:52 PM EST

eh? EH? EH?!

[ Parent ]
fuck no (none / 1) (#68)
by evilmeow on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:00:38 AM EST

mmorping is for losers; but that doesnt mean that its the game companies that breed the losers. I would say the losers breed gaming companies. Supply and demand.
"[O]ne thing is certain: people are certifiably historically myopic"

[ Parent ]
so THAT'S where you've been (2.83 / 6) (#58)
by WetherMan on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 07:01:41 PM EST

"researching" for an "article" on "k5".
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs
I myself have (2.60 / 5) (#59)
by AlwaysAnonymized on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 07:27:37 PM EST

always been an FPS guy. I can't stand to fucking wait on a treadmill to level up, and those little items just make me feel like I am some sort of fucking faggot nerd in the basement. ...oh wait...

-1 Ignorant Scaremongering (2.20 / 5) (#61)
by coder66 on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 08:36:33 PM EST

Typical MMORGP players play about 20-30 hours per week, the same amount of time the average person spends watching TV.

Television and Health
The Daedalus Project

The people you portray as the average MMORPG gamer are in fact seen as losers by the majority of the playerbase. Sure, some are jealous and some may even admire these people, but the general consensus is "living in mom's basement".

The current trend in MMORPGs is decreased leveling time and downtime(travel, resting, etc). Alot of the time spent in games like Everquest was spent going from one place to another or resting to recover from combat. It takes a fraction of the time to level a charachter in EQ now that it did at release.

There is talk of 2nd and 3rd generation MMORPGS now(WoW and EQ2 are supposedly 2nd gen). In reality we are still in the 1st generation of MMORPGs. They all still use the same formula, albeit refined,: kill, level, loot. The main difference in the newer MMORPGS is the time to advance is more reasonable. When we do see actual 2nd or 3rd gen MMORPGs they will be more of a sandbox without the need for grinding away levels or raids for "phat lewts". The problem with the MMORPGs now is that if you take away the grind, you take away the game. The players cannot effect the world, because of the fear of the whining this would cause. Some reasonable attempts have been made at advancing the genre, notably Shadowbane. The main problems with Shadowbane were poor performance and the making of losing too painful. No one wanted to spend months recovering from the razing of a city. If it had been more reasonable(say a couple hours a day for a week) then I think Shadowbane would have more than the handful of subscribers it does now.

As far as addiction, this is a symptom of the player and not the MMORPG. The same person would be watching TV, surfing the internet, or perhaps masturbating to fill those long hours of boredom. The average balanced person can play an MMORPG and have plenty of time to have a healthy and full life outside of the game. If your only goal in life is keeping up with Joe Livesinmomsbasement, then I reccomend you join one of the addiction support groups now.

and? (2.25 / 4) (#65)
by khallow on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 10:09:18 PM EST

Typical MMORGP players play about 20-30 hours per week, the same amount of time the average person spends watching TV.

How is this supposed to comfort us?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Hello? (1.50 / 4) (#66)
by coder66 on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 10:37:45 PM EST

I don't particularly care if anyone is comforted or not, nor do I care how they spend their time. I do care when people spout off bullshit about something I enjoy. There are idiots who will listen, and it will have a negative effect on the industry. Hot coffee anyone?

If you don't like the games or can't control how much time you spend on them, then don't play. Acting like MMORPGs are some new evil which destroys lives is simply rediculous; the people killing someone or flunking out of school over a game would have done the same thing for a different reason. Yes, there are better things most people could do with their time then play an MMORPG or watch TV, but the world isn't anymore fucked up with them then it would be without.

[ Parent ]
Um... (none / 0) (#131)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:40:06 PM EST

If you AREN'T playing like an idiot who lives in mom's basement, then what's the point of the game? You aren't going to amount to anything. Your friends will be a bunch of other people who aren't willing to actually put in any time, and sooner or later, all of you will realize you could socialize and get nothing done at the local bar, where at least you might occasionally by accident meet someone new.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Fun ? (none / 0) (#134)
by v1z on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 09:35:16 AM EST

"If you AREN'T playing like an idiot who lives in mom's basement, then what's the point of the game? You aren't going to amount to anything."

It all depends on the game. Most games, even the "traditional" MMORPGS which are basically Diablo 2 with more people, allow you to have fun if you group with people of your level. City of Heros has a sidekick system, that alllows any low-level "casual" player to play as a sidekick to a high-level character.

In short, the whole permise of the article that the fun in MMOs comes from being better than your peers is flawed; the fun in MMOs come from playing *with* other people. Sure it's fun to play against humans, rather than AI; but the *big* difference is teamwork. This is why Chaos Engine was such fun (if you're an arcade fan).

"you could socialize and get nothing done at the local bar, where at least you might occasionally by accident meet someone new."

Sure, and maybe join the AA. While addiction to computer games might give you a bad heart, it's certainly not as bad for you as an addiction to alchohol.

[ Parent ]
I disagree (none / 0) (#138)
by trhurler on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 02:48:38 AM EST

I know lots of people with lifelong addictions to alcohol who have enjoyed their lives and are well into their sixties and seventies. I do not know a single MMO addict who has any life whatsoever. They're happy as long as they're playing, maybe, but that's not life.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
It's all true unfortunately (2.20 / 5) (#64)
by marx on Mon Aug 08, 2005 at 09:15:41 PM EST

World of Warcraft isn't that sensitive to equipment actually, what matters is the ability to organize people. Still, being able to achieve the goals in the game is all about time spent, there's very little skill involved. The player vs. player side looks promising, especially the capture the flag battleground can sometimes be very reminiscent of an FPS like Quake (and almost as fun).

I haven't completely given up on it, but I'd like it to be more of a game where you can just sit down and play for fun a few hours instead of having to plan your life around it. I've wasted some months of my life on these types of games, but fortunately I've been able to detect when I've become addicted and break it (I was addicted a few months when I was younger). Still, I guess it's a good experience having seen what makes people play these games so much.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.

Overdone (none / 1) (#71)
by dbickett on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:47:34 AM EST

Either the emphasis you use is excessive, or you speak of a very small audience that evidently lacks something we call "self-control".

What did it for me (1.75 / 4) (#72)
by actmodern on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 01:37:10 AM EST

60 Rogue on a WoW PvP server. I gave up after realizing the only people I could raid with lived in their parents basement and considered Star Trek to be scifi.

The second you get into the end game you QUICKLY realize you're playing with complete trash or disabled people. It's pretty depressing to get into that crowd.

Also rogues are so uber in WoW it was too easy. Combat build. With all my cooldowns I could cut through everything except Warriors. They have Overpower and that fucks a rogue who depends on dodging to soak damage.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.

Cheap shot (2.00 / 2) (#76)
by slaida1 on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 05:23:15 AM EST

I know this is bit of a cheap shot but:

The second you get into the end game you QUICKLY realize you're playing with complete trash or disabled people. It's pretty depressing to get into that crowd.

What kind of person calls fellow human being trash or disabled? Sure they cheat, lie and use all imaginable dirty (sometimes stupid) tricks to strengthen their status but still.

See, even mages can do cheap shots :p hehe, are you stunned now?

[ Parent ]

Rogue + PvP Server = Challenge. How? (none / 0) (#80)
by coder66 on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:47:18 AM EST

The abilities to do massive frontloaded damage and to choose your fights are always overpowered in a game that is not designed for open PvP.

I had a pretty good win/loss ratio against rogues with my shadow priest(Shaman though...ack). I don't guess that many people play priests on the PvP servers, hell not that many do on the regular ones.

I didn't have any problems raiding, but then again I was a priest. I didn't need to be in Uber_Guild_01, kiss ass, and play 24/7 to get into good groups. It was more like, hey you guys need another priest for MC(and the shadow sucks in raids thing? I told them I was holy. They never knew the difference)? If your guild thought that the game was the be all end all then you should have just found another guild. If you weren't having fun then move on. I bet you got your $50 worth just playing to 60.

I quit WoW over the PvP rankings. I had no problem with the raids. I did them when I had 4 hours to kill. If I got uber_robe_01 then cool, if not uber_robe_01_+1 will be out in the next dungeon. Then they actually made the priest PvP gear not suck. At first I was excited, then when I found I had to play constantly to keep the rank to use the PvP gear. Fuck that. It is one thing to spend alot of time to get the phat lewts, but that is when the time is spent when/if I want to(It's actually a better business model more time paying sub fee +$, less bandwitdh used +$$). Everyone with any sense said fuck the insane requirements for advancement after PoP for EQ.

[ Parent ]
PvP Rewards No Longer Tied to Current Rank (none / 0) (#83)
by IsaacW on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 09:17:58 AM EST

They changed this recently... now you can use the PvP rewards that you purchased no matter your current rank. Come back!

[ Parent ]
See what I mean (3.00 / 3) (#86)
by actmodern on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 10:36:30 AM EST

You'd lie about your build and put your group in danger because of it. Pickup groups are the worest and end-game raiding envitably means joining groups you haven't before unless you are part of the most uber guild on the realm.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]
In danger? Sure. (none / 0) (#111)
by coder66 on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 01:02:38 AM EST

I was holy for awhile for raids. Once you get some good items to add mana, there is not much difference in healing ability. Most healing ability comes from discipline, which I always had as my secondary. I had plenty of comments on my healing, and alot of people were shocked to find out I was shadow specced. Maybe it was because I didn't waste time nuking on raids and actually did my job? You quit because of the losers playing high end huh? I always thought those were the ones that didn't want to group with you because you didn't have the "optimal" build. I've been in shitty pick-up groups and I have also been in some pretty good ones. Usually though it is one person in the group ruining it. Being a priest it is pretty easy to get that person removed.

[ Parent ]
Trash and Disabled People? (none / 1) (#82)
by IsaacW on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 09:15:58 AM EST

Reroll Horde ^_^, and make some friends. Seek out good players to play with. If you're a member of your guild's leadership, crack down on the crappy members: make them shape up or ship out. My enjoyment in this game comes mostly from the fact that I always have a great group to run with. I'm on a PvP server, but I'm really excited for the end-game instances. My 54 shaman is getting into totem-bot mode as we speak :-)

[ Parent ]
Normal life sucks (2.92 / 14) (#77)
by slaida1 on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:10:38 AM EST

Every now and then I decide to not play computer games for a day or two and try find out what this normal life is that people talk about. I've found it basically circles around sex, drinking, money, familystuff, tv, work, health, beauty and social status. I've played that game enough already, it got boring and I stopped playing it.

I go to work and do the necessary irl stuff to keep myself wealthy and healthy enough but not much more.

Somebody somewhere wrote that gamers learn new systems and rules fast because they've been jumping from game to game and from different rulesets to others for years. It feels only natural that normal life is but another system, a game that has some rules and pros and cons while playing it.

As a game, I'd rate life 8,5/10 or something. It's too open ended, players start with wildly varied stats and money, not enough health, no mana, rampant bullying, griefing, extortion, stealing, PKing and other unhealthy social behaviour and GMs are nowhere to be seen. Unmanaged but Free and I suppose that's why it's highly popular although I'm getting sneaky suspicion that some people were and are forced to play this...

But I digress. Would somebody please tell me what is so friggin special about normal life that would make it the be-all-end-all thing? Ok, so it's the framework within which we must be and play at least enough to support our playing of other games, but so what? You spawn, you have some good time and then you get fragged just like in any game.

It's always there (3.00 / 3) (#88)
by actmodern on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 10:38:40 AM EST

Life is there and it's never down until you're done playing. Also you can't respec or anything. Don't gimp yourself.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]
plus... (none / 1) (#92)
by CodeWright on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 11:58:16 AM EST

...the death penalty sucks.

and only the rare hero classes ever get rezzed.

A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Its OK for you to say that (3.00 / 2) (#93)
by The Diary Section on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 12:39:15 PM EST

my char's got poor Charisma stats and a Face of Goofyness.
It was all fine until they nerfed Force of Patriarchy dammit.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
Keep up with the upgrades! (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by BerntB on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 01:47:42 PM EST

If you don't update to new versions, at least check what is in them before you complain. The parameters you complain about are mostly controlled by the gamer these days.
Face of Goofyness
A modern-day cleric (without boring prayers) can update your Comeliness stat. Costs lots of gold pieces, but you get to play a mummy for a bit! (Not as cool as in e.g. Blood Bowl, though.)
poor Charisma
Also modifiable. Use potions called "steroids" for a personality change to more self confidence. It also helps Comeliness a bit, with some level grind (go to a "gym" area).

It is said to be a dangerous quest to get those potions and they might damage your Constitution (especially if you play a male), but no fun gaming without some dice rolls, eh?

Still, no real fun, like metamorphosing to a dragon (at least physically).

[ Parent ]

Re : Normal life sucks (none / 0) (#91)
by CorwIn of Amber on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 11:30:25 AM EST

You are right, except insofar as normal life is not a game - games are made to represent normal life.

Would you PAY to play a game that boring anyway? (If you didn't find life boring you wouldn't play other games... ask anyone who work 16hrs a day and really like what they do.)

-Do you realize the suicide rate we'd have if people killed themselves just because they're stupid?
-Yes, an acceptable one.

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 1) (#106)
by JahToasted on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:03:26 PM EST

Would you PAY to play a game that boring anyway?

A lot of people seem to like The Sims.
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Awesome graphics and sound! (none / 0) (#112)
by jforan on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 11:45:46 AM EST

Not to mention the tactile and olfactory interfaces.


I hops to be barley workin'.
[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#130)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:38:47 PM EST

If you ever get laid, you'll understand the difference.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
damn all you nay-sayers (none / 0) (#140)
by slaida1 on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 06:38:25 AM EST

Mental note from past: "This is it then, huh? So this is the other thing this world revolves around besides money. Feels great, I can understand now those who chase this all their lives. I could. Others chase money, most balance in between.. which camp do I belong or choose now that I've tasted a bit of them both? BTW, is this a sign of times to come for me when I think these kind of things at a moment like this? What I am supposed to think, anyway? Ooh aah?"

..and I chose something else.

There's going to be SIDs, Sex Interface Devices and hacked&tuned drivers for them. And those drivers will get targeted by trojans and somebody will get so pwned that they'll have to buy antivirus software to keep'em safe from remote rapists. omg

[ Parent ]

Games need to be good to be addictive (2.75 / 4) (#79)
by Saggi on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:43:54 AM EST

An interesting article that may be correct in the issues it rises, but might be wrong in the in-between conclusions.

I have been involved in some of the first online games on the internet. The MUDs (multi user dungeons). This was many years ago, before the rise of the World Wide Web. (The internet existed for many years before www). Now I use most of my spare time on 3D gaming, like the ones on my website. (see link above).

Many of the effects and techniques described in the article was used back then - but not for profit. And this is an important note in regard to the article. It describes that the game developers' uses techniques like levels and equipment in order to make profit. I believe it goes the other way around. Levels and equipment make people play the game - profits or not. We could see it back then, when no profits were involved.

Why is this important? In my opinion a game is addictive if it's good. Levels and equipment is merely to introduce a competitive aspect to the game, and many players find this to be good. If the game was good in some other way, they would play it for that other reason...

But game developers don't make games to be addictive. They make games to be good - and therefore they become addictive. You can't sit down and say: let's come up with a really addictive game. You can only say: let's make a game so good everybody will play it forever...

If some game developer comes up with an idea for a non-competive online game, that still have qualities that make players want to play them, they may gain a lot of players.

In this regard levels and equipment are technically easy items to introduce into a game, but as stated in the article it makes the game uneven, pushing new players out. And this is not desirable for neither the player nor the game developer. Come up with an idea, where its fun to play, even for new players as well as old players and you will still having a winning concept.

The core is still to have something that continues to be interesting. I know a lot of players who are seriously tired of the "level-treadmill", and would love to have some other form of advancement. In this regard the equipment is for most often more interesting, mostly because it gives power (good armor or weaponry) or introduces special abilities that make the game more fun to play. And you (sometimes) can use it without the "level-treadmill".

-:) Oh no, not again.
More time Paying, Less time playing (none / 0) (#81)
by coder66 on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:59:46 AM EST

Bandwidth costs money. The ideal gamers from a marketing standpoint are the ones who log on for a couple of hours a week. They keep paying the subscrition fees, and they use less resources.

As far as getting rid of the treadmill, every developer who has tried to do this has either backed down and went with the cookie-cutter formula or shown a great deal of incompetence(probably due to lack of capital to hire decent employees)ending up with a buggy unplayable mess. Publishers or others financing games just don't want to take the risk. A sure fire mediocre game is better to them than the possibility of an amazing success.

[ Parent ]
Getting Rid of the Grind (none / 1) (#102)
by hardburn on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 03:50:37 PM EST

I think Eve has the best way of getting rid of the grind: just have a huge skill tree and have leveling based on time alone. Not time online--just click the skill, and in x hours, it's done, no matter if you're online or not.

Some points of note:

  • The skill tree is huge. Really huge. IIRC, it was once estimated that it would take 9 years to master all the skills currently in the game.
  • Skills at basic levels will let you use certain equiptment, but you'll need higher ones to use it effectively. For instance, it's almost impossible to fit most ships well without Electronics and Engineering skills to max, even if you have the skills to fly them out of a station.
  • You can have fun right now. I'll never say "I'd like to go with you guys on that high-level NPC complex, but I need to grind out some ship components to increase my building skills." I'll just go on the complex run and my skills take care of themselves.

I'm convinced this is the way MMORPGs should go, until someone has a better idea. I don't think any current MMORPGs have better ideas.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
It kept me away (none / 0) (#104)
by actmodern on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 05:33:12 PM EST

The problem with Eve is you'll NEVER be as skilled (in-game) as players who have characters running since day one. It's essentially an admission that they cannot be bothered to balance character skills and thus reward you based on how long you've been subscribed.

New players will be behind other players perpetually. In WoW or EQ2 you can still hit max level and get all your gear if you're determined.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]

Specialize (none / 1) (#109)
by hardburn on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 11:50:02 PM EST

I've been in Eve for about 8 months. I tend to specialize in frig combat, and have 6 mil skill points. My first corp were miners, so a lot of my skill points are dedicated to that. My current corp is pure PVP.

In my little Assult Frig, I've taken on battleships solo piloted by people who have been in the game a lot longer than me. If they're not setup specifically to take out frigs, they die.

I'm not that effective with Battleships, and it will take me a long time to be effective, but it doesn't matter. The skills I have now, which are probably attainable in 2-4 months if you don't waste time on non-PVP skills like I did, are sufficient for you to be effective in the game.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
No grind in EVE? (none / 0) (#132)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 12:58:59 AM EST

I played EVE for a couple of months a year ago and the grind was exactly why I turned away. You need money to get any gear, and to get money you have to grind (unless you wanna play the market which is really hard without the addons I have accustomed to in WoW). And the grinding is absolutely mindless mining, just like the grinding in any other MMORPG.

EVE was a really beautiful, well-made game and I would've loved to stay with it. But the grinding was jus too much. In WoW I don't have to grind at all to get to the level cap 60 (well, grinded 3 last levels) and after that you can either grind or play the market (my choice) to get money. In any case, money is not that important in WoW because most good end-game items are soulbound, ie. you can't buy them.

"What's next, sigging a k5er quote about sigging someone on k5?"

[ Parent ]
Addiction (none / 0) (#149)
by Boronx on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 06:32:00 PM EST

"But game developers don't make games to be addictive. They make games to be good - and therefore they become addictive. You can't sit down and say: let's come up with a really addictive game." This simply isn't true. You can write a game to be addictive. Uncountered progress bars, for instance, provide less information than a fraction, yet the are pervasive in MMorpgs for the simple reason that people often feel compelled to watch them increase or to do whats necessary to make them increase. The life of the game and the meting out of rewards are bent towards addiction. Imagine your favorite action game: The game starts of easy and builds to a crescendo of violence, after which the game is done. Think of your favorite RPG or adventure game. It follows a story arc, and when that arc is done, the game is done. Compared to these, the endless quest for better loot to kill bigger mobs to get better lootin WoW is like a junky who needs 10 times as much heroin to get well as he used to.
[ Parent ]
Essay is far behind the times. (2.00 / 2) (#84)
by Remus Shepherd on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 09:48:16 AM EST

Combat in an MMOG is typically resolved with hardly any intervention from the player, aside from clicking a few buttons every half-minute or so. Lightning reflexes and sharp coordination are not important, thus making these games very accessible to a general audience.

What games are you playing?

The latest generation of MMOG have much more interactive combat systems, such as City of Hero's power-based combat (no 'auto-attacks') or Guild War's 'counter-move' combat system that requires precise timing. It's still not as detailed as a first person shooter, but the days are over where you could walk away from the keyboard while your character was fighting in Everquest.

Other things about your essay are dated, as well. There are games without equipment (City of Heroes), games where you can level without monster-bashing (Star Wars Galaxies, A Tale In The Desert), and games with no combat, goals, nor character advancement whatsoever (Second Life). The MMOG industry is in the same state as the RPG industry was in the mid-1980s, with lots of experimental games being designed and risks being taken, leading to a growing diversity of gaming experiences.

Your essay would have been good if written in the year 2000. It's obsolete now.

Remus Shepherd <remus@panix.com>
Creator and holder of many Indefensible Positions.

Kind of (3.00 / 3) (#85)
by Apreche on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 10:10:48 AM EST

You are correct in that modern MMOs exhibit those characteristics LESS than older ones. However, the fundamental game mechanic is unchanged. Sure, they might improve the combat a little bit by adding more options and such. But the basis if level grind is still there. Each MMO just makes less of a grind than the previous ones to differentiate itself and become more popular. That's why WoW is currently on top. On the low level it's the same game as Everquest and all the MUDs. But they add a few things here and there to alleviate the problems without eliminating them. I predict future MMOs will just keep doing the same thing. The next big MMO will add more quests and more areas, more plot, more complex combat. But the idea that whoever plays the most is the most powerful will not change.

[ Parent ]
Minor point about GW (none / 0) (#144)
by Lord Kestrel on Wed Aug 17, 2005 at 10:00:33 PM EST

But the idea that whoever plays the most is the most powerful will not change.


I picked up Guild Wars about 2 months ago once I learned that it wasn't a pay-to-play game. From what I can tell, once you've played the game long enough to figure out how it works, there isn't any difference between someone who has played for years and someone who is just starting out, beyond simple tactical knowledge. Every PvP char is created at the highest level, with the best armor and the most damaging weapons. There are a number of prebuilt template chars you can play so that you don't even need to figure out what skills you want to use. Playing the game enough lets you get different armor and weapons, but the *only* difference is that they look distinct, they have the same identical stats as the armor someone just purchasing the game would have.

After a few days of playing, one learns the typical strategies in use, how to counter them, and how to counter the counters. At the end, it comes down to being able to drive your char adequately, and luck, not the number of hours grinding to find that uber powerful weapon, or to get your char up to the highest possible level.

GW is supposed to have a fairly large update at the end of the summer, it'll be interesting to see if they keep with the very balanced game they have now, or if they change it to require grinding in order to be competitive.

[ Parent ]

Shift key (3.00 / 4) (#87)
by actmodern on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 10:37:08 AM EST

Use your shift key to auto attack in CoH.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
[ Parent ]
so, in other words (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by speek on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 10:46:23 AM EST

MMORGs are becoming more and more like FPS games? I have no doubt that as computers gain in power, the end state of MMORGs is simply a huge-scale FPS game with more story. A good thing too, but doesn't counter Tex's points about the current crop of MMORGs and the huge popularity of exactly the ones that suffer most from these problems (ie Everquest and WOW).

al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Finally proof of time travel (none / 1) (#95)
by truffle on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 01:34:34 PM EST

The author has come to us from 2001 to tell us about the MMO's of the past!


yikes (none / 1) (#99)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 03:08:10 PM EST


Man dies after online game marathon

Tuesday, August 9, 2005 Posted: 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)

SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) -- A South Korean man who played computer games for 50 hours almost non-stop died of heart failure minutes after finishing his mammoth session in an Internet cafe, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old man, identified only by his family name Lee, had been playing online battle simulation games at the cybercafe in the southeastern city of Taegu, police said.

Lee had planted himself in front of a computer monitor to play on-line games on August 3. He only left the spot over the next three days to go to the toilet and take brief naps on a makeshift bed, they said.

"We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion," a Taegu provincial police official said by telephone.

Lee had recently quit his job to spend more time playing games, the daily JoongAng Ilbo reported after interviewing former work colleagues and staff at the Internet cafe.

After he failed to return home, Lee's mother asked his former colleagues to find him. When they reached the cafe, Lee said he would finish the game and then go home, the paper reported.

He died a few minutes later, it said.

South Korea, one of the most wired countries in the world, has a large and highly developed game industry.

Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

I'm scared straight! (none / 1) (#101)
by your_desired_username on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 03:26:48 PM EST

I'm so glad you posted this link! I was headed this way myself, but you have saved my life, circletimessquare. My gratitude for your wonderful and generous deed will go on and on forever, until the heat death of the universe. Furthermore, in thanks for your life-saving post, I will be your slave, for ... uh ... about 13 femtoseconds.

[ Parent ]
suck my dick for 13 femtoseconds then (nt) (1.33 / 3) (#103)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 03:59:20 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
MMORPMG: the best part of MMORPG (3.00 / 3) (#107)
by Polverone on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 06:30:16 PM EST

I love hearing about massively multiplayer online role playing metagames. I'm not a game player -- the last time I really enjoyed electronic games was when the Super Nintendo was still current -- but I love to hear tales of gaming the game.

Given the current state of game AI, the only interesting games are those played against humans. Macro/bot development pits the wits of players against the wits of developers. So does the discovery and exploitation of game bugs. I am quite sympathetic to people who hate bug exploiters, because I understand that it sometimes permits very unfair behavior (destroying others' characters in dreamcast PSO, for example). I am not even sympathetic to people who hate bots and macros. If the game is so unchallenging that it can be successfully played by homebrew software, it deserves to be played by homebrew software. And in either case, botting or bug-exploiting, the metagame has far higher stakes and more interesting play than 90% of behavior explicitly permitted by the terms of service.

The other interesting aspect of online games that is interesting is the roleplaying that goes on. I don't mean the tiny minority of people who try to speak how they imagine Orcish Barbarians or whoever would speak, but the minority who pretend to be someone else outside the game context in order to gain advantages. Men who pretend to be flirtatious women, or simply women, to get lonely nerds to give them in-game favors. Corrupt guild pooh-bahs who steal from their fellow players. Deceptive players who work their way up the ranks of rival in-game organizations to destroy them from the inside.

These metagames, technical and social, are further fueled by the interconversion of game goods and real money on sites like ige.com. I can only imagine that the games and the metagames will continue to become more complex and high-stakes as persistent worlds grow larger and more permanent. This is the future of professional gaming, more so than "cyberathlete" competitions: the best players won't need any sponsors, leagues, or governing bodies. They can spin money and legendary tales simply by playing the game as profit-seeking individuals. The best are going to have more in common with poker champions than with pro basketball players. I imagine that the cyberathletes will eventually be dwarfed by the scale and stakes of for-profit play in persistent game worlds, if they haven't already.
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

my 5c (2.50 / 2) (#108)
by ccdotnet on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 11:41:18 PM EST

On the whole I disagree with most of the article, but its likely this is because my partner and I are at the wrong end of the typical gamer demographic/age-range.

We both spent a lot of time in Diablo2 (not strictly MMO but close) over 12 months or so, then a few months in Warcraft3 - until as the author describes, dexterity became more important then strategy - and eventually arrived at City of Heros. You'll find both of us in CoH for probably 6-10 hours per week. Our characters are modest in level (20-30) but we're not particularly desperate to achieve a much higher level. The fun is in the gameplay, and its surprising how such a simple process: find mobs, kill them, find some more... remains engaging for so long. Prior to playing CoH I had dismissed it as too narrow compared to games like WoW, in terms of the ways in which a player can occupy themselves.

Perhaps because we entered gaming already in possession of social standing and interests in that other game, The Real World, we're not in danger of getting "lost" online.

I also think some of the skills we "imported" from The Real World into CoH, can be developed within the game, such that they're more useful in the Real World. For example, leadership (team management) is a crucial element to both success in and enjoyment of CoH. Balancing competiting individual interests and keeping the team motivated and moving forward towards a series of common goals is challenging. This is a skill young players will find valuable outside the game.

And despite feeling we occupy the "older" end of the age range, we're constantly surprised by how often another player will say (upon having to leave the keyboard), "gotta get the kids to school" or "gotta pick up my husband" rather than the typical Diablo response "g2g, mum's coming" or "dad needs the phone". A sign the demographic has clearly shifted.

We "socialise" in CoH, but only to a point. These are not really "real people" at the other end of the connection, they just make more interesting teammates than a computer AI.

Anyone giving priority to fantasy over reality, is likely to be driven to do so via other means (drugs, Cable, porn, religion), whether or not MMOs are available.

WTF (none / 1) (#110)
by fluxrad on Tue Aug 09, 2005 at 11:58:18 PM EST

I log in several days after this gets posted, type ^F and "Final Fantasy" into firefox and get...

no hits.

WTF people? This whole discussion fails it where it = having played anything other than WoW.

"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
What's this? (none / 0) (#118)
by slaida1 on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 03:26:37 AM EST

So yesterday I was readin K5 when I saw this one comment and said

- "Hey Mike, check this one guy he searched the discussion for final fantasy, got no hits and now bitches that people don't play, hear this, anything other than Wow. Heh, what do you think?"

- "Wow"

- "Yeah, maybe I should whine about people not searching for anything other than final fantasy?"

- "Haha"

[ Parent ]

Who's Mike, your imaginary boyfriend? (none / 0) (#123)
by fluxrad on Fri Aug 12, 2005 at 01:45:47 AM EST

Search the thread for Ultima Online or SWG too and you'll get one hit per.

Quite the depth of discussion you've pointed out, ass.

"It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
-David Hume
[ Parent ]
This is such a lie (1.33 / 3) (#113)
by resquad on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 06:31:54 PM EST

So much of this article is made up bulls**t. "Combat in an MMOG is typically resolved with hardly any intervention from the player, aside from clicking a few buttons every half-minute or so." WOW - Seriously, no. In most of these games the difference between winning a battle or having your corpse spread across the snow is how good you are clicking thoes skill buttons. Yes you can go around and not click a skill, but your not going to be able to beat something that supposed to be "at your level".

In fact many classes (healers) would be completly useless if they pressed a few buttons every 30 seconds.

Who wrote this, and why aren't they banned from existance.

Warcraft (none / 1) (#114)
by marx on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 06:55:25 PM EST

In the World of Warcraft endgame, what he says is essentially true. You have to click a button every 3 seconds, not 30 seconds, but it's the same button. The endgame zone in World of Warcraft is the Molten Core, which consists of 10 big bosses or so. The tactic for almost all of these bosses is that the healers just spam heal on one person until their mana is out. When their mana is out they spam the heal button again. Mages sit at range and click the frost bolt button every 3 seconds. Hunters don't even have to click, they have auto-shoot, so they stand at range and auto-shoot. My friend who is a hunter usually watches TV when in Molten Core. Rogues and warriors need to make certain combinations of attacks to maximize their damage, so they keep pressing a sequence of buttons.

All of this takes no skill whatsoever. The skill that's needed in Molten Core is being able to organize 40 people, but very little playing skill is required during the actual fights.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Endgame? (none / 0) (#116)
by coder66 on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 02:08:51 AM EST

So, a small portion of the game represents the whole thing? MC sucks because of exactly what you described. A couple of times through is enough to be bored with it. I'd like to know how this applies to the Battlegrounds or any non-raid dungeon, because you will get owned fast playing like that.

Another poster mentioned that you no longer have to maintain PvP rank to use the PvP gear, so once you have it you are set. That makes MC completely optional as the PvP gear is as good or better than anything from MC. IMHO the only "endgame" that doesn't suck in current MMORPGs is PvP.

Regardless, this stuff is in the game because enough people wanted it(EQ had tons of this, much worse than MC and did extremely well). I think we will see less of this type of mindless gameplay in the future, but it is still a small portion of gameplay in most of the newer games. The days of 1..1...1...1 are gone.

[ Parent ]
PvP gear (none / 1) (#117)
by marx on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 03:14:16 AM EST

The problem with PvP ranks in WoW is that they're assigned based on how many honor points you have, and simplified, you get x number of honor points for a PvP kill and y number of honor points for a battleground win. Since killing people is not particularly hard, this again becomes a question of who spends the most time playing. A super-skilled player who only plays one day per week will get a much lower rank than a sucky player who plays every day.

To get to the highest ranks (which you need if you want to have equipment comparable to MC), you need to do PvP for 5-10 hours continuously every day for several months, in practice this means playing a battleground over and over (you don't actually have to win the battleground, you'll get honor points from killing people). Again, this is not skill, it's just the person who spends the most time who wins.

To win a battleground can take skill though. The capture the flag battleground is actually pretty good. It's still mostly a matter of organizing your team, individual achievement doesn't really affect the outcome, but if you have a good team you will definitely win over a sucky team. One problem with this battleground is that you have to wait up to an hour in a queue to play it, so it's still a huge time sink to play it regularly.

The other battleground is an all out war where you have to destroy the enemy base and kill their commander. Perhaps this can be made to work, but it's pretty much failed on the server I played (and on many other servers as well apparently), since the players don't bother organizing themselves. In the end it just becomes a spamfest as 40vs40 players fight eachother on the screen and the battle is a stalemate for up to 10 hours. My tactic has been to wait until 4am or so when the other team's players tend to go to bed (perhaps they are generally younger), then the numbers tend to become 40vs20 to our advantage and we can win. This is a pretty good demonstration of how to be successful in a MMORPG I think, and the reason I don't find them interesting (I've played 2, and I've quit after becoming bored playing at the highest level for a month or so).

Non-raid dungeons aren't really relevant. You always get better loot from the raid dungeons (this is by design from Blizzard) so it's not worthwile doing them after a point. They're similar in style to MC also, there is a tactic which you just repeat, you never have to adapt to a dynamic situation. Some of the non-raid dungeons also take a ridiculous amount of time to complete, even if you know exactly what to do (the dungeons look exactly the same every time you do them, and other players can't interfere once you enter a dungeon). They can take 4-5 hours to go through, and that filters out any players who don't want to dedicate their lives to the game.

There are of course exceptions to this. If you play in a sucky group for example, then the situation can become dynamic if someone messes up. Then it can take skill to rescue the situation. PvP can also be very dynamic, but really only when the numbers are small (i.e. 5vs5 or so). The capture the flag battleground is 10vs10, and it can sometimes be very fun.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

All Valid Points (none / 0) (#124)
by coder66 on Fri Aug 12, 2005 at 05:19:21 AM EST

However, I do feel that you are oversimplfying it a bit. There is still a degree of skill involved, just no where near the level of twitch games. It is possible to beat someone of a higher level or with better gear than you. The time spent does give a person with no skill whatsoever an advantage(and possibly a win), but many people see this as an advantage over say, FPSs.

Ideally, the "endgame" should allow you to have more options in gear/abilities, but not increase your power much. This would help MMORPGs to include more skill. Until then you are fairly accurate on your assessment.

By the way, I was disapointed with Alterac Valley too. In DAoC we had to work together to take keeps, but that never happened in WoW. It got kinda boring with no one even really trying to win.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 1) (#129)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:38:25 PM EST

A knee jerk reflex to defend a game. Nah, you're not an addict.

WHO CARES how much skill is required? No matter how much it is, Tex is clearly right that it is nowhere near what is needed to be a top flight StarCraft or FPS player. If you don't agree, it is because you have never actually witnessed really good players in those games. They look superhuman. There was a time(and I've lost this now,) when I could spin around a perfect 180 while running, reverse so I was now moving backwards in the same direction I was previously running forwards, and kill three people in a row at varying ranges(extremely varying ranges,) with a rail gun or sniper rifle type of weapon without taking any aim time whatsoever. The whole thing would be over in less than a second, and I rarely missed even once. The feeling you get doing it is amazing, the reaction from any onlookers even moreso, and the amount of practice it takes to be able to do things like that is far beyond any MMO type of game.

And yes, that was just one example of the sort of thing FPS players learn to do. I used to have a huge bag of seemingly impossible tricks.

For awhile I played Xpilot too. You might not know this one; it is not a commercial thing. It is a 2d space flight game. The variation I played was the most violent, fast paced variation out there: teams of players competed to kill each other and or steal from each other. The way the top players won was by stealing, because it could end an entire game in 10 seconds or less. Average players killed, because they couldn't steal given an hour to do it. The object you steal is considerably heavier than your ship, so if you don't know how to control it, it tosses you around like a rag doll, making it impossible to defend yourself and causing you to smash into walls. There was a time(again, I can't do this anymore, because I got a life and it takes practice to maintain this level of skill,) where I could come in at a speed so high that even with a radar you wouldn't be able to tell I was coming for you, and even if you camped you'd never hit me, and I'd steal your team treasure, then literally throw it blind across several screens worth of space full of obstacles and use it to hit a target the size of your thumbnail to win the game. Total time, maybe 5-8 seconds depending on the exact layout of the map and so on. There is no analogue to that level of skill in an MMO game, no matter what you think.

Previous to all that, I played muds for a few months. They're the grand daddys of MMO games, and to this day the best muds have a better gaming experience(for those who don't need shitty graphics, anyway,) than any of the commercial stuff. That said, they suck. They suck because Tex is exactly right.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Real life? Where? (none / 1) (#115)
by MorePower on Wed Aug 10, 2005 at 07:06:59 PM EST

I think you've got the cause and effect backwards with social life and MMOGs. I bought WoW specifically because I have no social life, and no prospects for getting one.
I very fondly remember having friends, back when I was in college. But now I'm out of school, which means no social life anymore.
It's not just the time constraints (although with a job you do only have about 3-4 waking our of free time), but also the lack of opportunity to meet anyone. Back in college, we were constantly meeting people in class and in the many varied extra-curricular activities. These people mostly had similar (or at some least overlapping) interests with you.
Out of college, there is no way to interact with anyone, even if you can find the time. So before I bought WoW I just spent those 3-4 free hours being bored doing nothing. I wish life wasn't like that, but it is.

No way?! (none / 0) (#119)
by Schandi on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 06:57:31 AM EST

I agree, that often social problems are the cause for game addiction, but this can easily lead to a gigantic increase in those social problems. No way to get a social life?? I don't know where you live, but that can't be true. And if it's true (which it isn't) then change the city or cut back on the job. I know it can be hard to find the right people to socialize, but try some sports, political or other groups which touch your interests. Or join courses to strenghten social skill, if they need improvement.

[ Parent ]
Er, (none / 0) (#128)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:29:00 PM EST

Well, no. In general he's right. Most American cities at least(NYC is supposedly an exception, but I don't know that from personal experience,) are horrible places to actually meet anyone. Think about it. People go out with small groups of friends, and talking to anyone not in your group is considered to be at best odd, and more frequently will be regarded as mildly rude. That's the culture. The only exceptions are meat market dance clubs, and let's face it: only a certain sort of people are going to even WANT to play that game.

It is bad enough that we have services like "speed dating" in which people pretend that they're so busy they only have half an hour to meet five people in the dating world, and on the friends to hang out with side, people just stick with the same crowd over time and get sick of them until finally they either hole up by themselves or with a spouse, leave town and start it all over again, or resign themselves to having a bunch of people they can't stand as their "friends." Almost everybody hangs out with the following:

1) Local college friends(less commonly high school friends.)

2) Coworkers.

3) Fellow practitioners of some hobby or other(but note: even here, they form small groups and rarely interact outside of those groups.)

If this doesn't strike you as pathetic, you aren't paying attention. What most people refer to as their social life is really just the same dozen or so people grating on each others' nerves more and more as time goes on.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
It short-circuits something. (none / 1) (#121)
by grendelkhan on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 10:15:36 AM EST

People have safety mechanisms built into them that we're not always aware of. Mechanisms that have grown and developed over very long periods of time.

Boredom, I believe, is one of these mechanisms. Barring major depression, people can't really just shut down and do nothing for extended periods of time. (Well, some people can---these people are hermits, and most of us aren't hermits.)

MMOGs short-circuit that response, which is what makes them so dangerous. While I'm sure it's possible to use them responsibly, just as I'm sure it's possible to recreationally use opiates responsibly, I'm not going to go out and try either one of them.

Where would the hikikomori be if their parents shut off the circuit breakers to their cocoons?

-- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca

What a load of crap (none / 1) (#122)
by v1z on Thu Aug 11, 2005 at 01:14:02 PM EST

While it's true that people can form what amounts to an addiction to MMOs, I think you've got the reason for the addiction screwed up.

You touch on the core of the problem; for many players MMOs turn into their primary social environment, and the way to gain peer-respect here, is the same as in the world at large; Be funny, knowledgable and helpful, and if all else fails, be powerful. And to become "powerful" and proficient in most of these gameworlds take a lot of time and effort (not that different to mastering any other skill, really).

I've persononally met a lot of people online, that I would now consider friends, people I know I'd never even heard of, much less talked to, if not for gaming. So having MMOs as one of your primary social outlets doesn't *have* to be a bad thing. But I think all humans need a bit of facetime (not to mention skin contact) from time to time, and you can't get that online.

And here, I believe, lies the real danger. Because if you're able to log on and chat with you friends several hours a day, you don't *feel* alone, but you're still understimulated as far as "real" relationships go. And this can turn into a vicious circle, and quickly send you on a path to becomming a shut-in. Maintaining relasonships with real people is a lot more work than meeting up with people on-line, and if people are unplesant in the real world, you can just /ignore them.

I don't think most people are "lured" into spending a lot of time online just to get a new level, or better equipment. I think people stay, because playing most of these games is a fun and social experience. Maybe none of the people you work with share your intrests, maybe there's a significant age difference. It then becomes a lot easier to make friends online, because when you chose "your" MMO, you've already selected something that intrests you. And that doesn't only include genre (sci-fi vs fantasy, pvp vs pve etc), it also includes social atmosphere, as most games have different gameworlds and servers, with very different player populations.

So naturally, if you meet someone online that's willing to spend 15 USD a month to have access to this virtual world, you already have a lot in common.

I don't think MMOs are "worse" than traditional games; I know I've spent quite a few 20hours sessions in front of my Amiga playing Speedball 2 or Cannon Fodder alone -- If I spend that much time playing something these days, at least I do it with some fellow humans. I also resent the idea that its "good" to read books alone, and "bad" to play computer games; it's all a question how much is too much.

But I do agree with those that have posted here that most people are better off with a circle of "real life" friends, that can come over and have a cup of coffee, and give you a hug when you've been dumped by your girlfriend, or lost your job. And I think the best way to meet new friends, after you've graduated, is to take up some sort of "flesh-and-blood" hobby. Mine would be martial arts, or "real" roleplaying. Yours might be soccer or rock climbing.

And here we have it... (none / 0) (#127)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:23:36 PM EST

I know I've spent quite a few 20hours sessions in front of my Amiga playing Speedball 2 or Cannon Fodder alone
This statement alone tells anyone sane that you shouldn't be taken as an authority on addiction.

Playing a computer game for 20 hours straight is a simple sign: YOU ARE AN ADDICT!

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You miss my point (none / 0) (#133)
by v1z on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 08:58:48 AM EST

Did you miss the past tense ? Did you miss the fact that the author claimed that MMOs are somehow *more* addictive, or at least qualitatively differently addictive than "normal" games ?

At any rate I wouldn't consider someone that occacionally plays for severeal hours straight an addict, I'd call them compulsive. Much as someone participating in other kinds of marathon-like activites might be a little twisted, but not necessarily addicted.

If you become uneasy when denied access to games for a long period, find it hard to focus, are unable to enjoy doing other things than gaming, then yes, you might be an addict.

Would you call someone that studied for 15 hours "addicted to learning" ? Or someone that worked 20 hours straigth to finish a project for school "a compulsive student" ? More often he or she is simply a poor scheduler -- certainly not an addict.

You do realize that a few years ago, sitting still for 24 hours, looking straight ahead was considered rather noble ? It's called meditation. If you need *pow* noises and flashing colors to go into a trance, I don't think it's *that* different from beating a drum.

Wouldn't advocate doing it every day, but occationally, it doesn't hurt.

[ Parent ]

Adiction and MMO's (3.00 / 4) (#125)
by IkeTyu on Fri Aug 12, 2005 at 06:58:19 PM EST

Listen, As a life long recreational drug abuser, I have a better idea of what addiction is than most. First, there is the distinction between psychological and physical addiction.

Physical addiction is a result of the down regulation of normally occuring neurotransmitters (or other chemicals) in the brain or body. For instance, opiates simulate a naturally occuring class of chemicals called the endorphins, which regulate the sensation of pain. These endorphins are kept at a relatively constant level in the brain by several regulatory mechanisms. Taking opiates over time causes the brain to sense that it has higher than normal levels of endorphins in the bloodstream so it produces less of them. This is called down regulation. Upon the cessation of taking opiates, the brain is still in its downregulated state. This causes a great deal of physical pain to the person. This is called withdrawl.

Now psychological addiction, while not as nasty as physical addiction, is still quite the obstacle to overcome. It is caused by the engraining of a particular action, set of actions, or behaviour, deeply into the psyche of a person, so that he/she feels uncomfortable when not doing the task. As a simplified example, Imagine you are at a park and all of a sudden, you realize that you are naked. This causes a great deal of discomfort, so that you immediately start covering yourself up. This is not actually causing a physical pain or suffering, it is solely the result of a particular set of beleifs. You are phychologically addicted to having clothes on.

The problem with the way people look at addictions these days, is that they look on them as the result of something that is out of our control. Especially if the addiction is being seen through the eyes of a loved one.

In the linked article, the mother, upon finding her son having killed himself, immediately started blaming the game for the demise of her son. She is trying to hold sony responsible or her son's death because they were the ones that supplied what he was psychologically addicted to. Just as a mother blames the friends and dealers of her child when she finds him overdosing on heroin, naked in the bathtub.

This is an example of the very method of thinking that is one of the major problems of this world. Instead of asking "Why son, why did you do this?", she is asking, "Why Sony, why would you do this?" as if her son had nothing to do with his own demise. Did sony put the rifle up against his head? No! Did sony pull the triger? NO! She completely lacks the understanding that her son made his own decision, ultimately leading to his demise. And how did he make his decision? The same way we all do, by using what we have learned from our past experiences.

Why is a person drawn into the seductive arms of an addiction? Generally, there is one reason. Pain. Emotional, physical, spiritual. For a small amount of money, one can completely shut out the outside world for a short time. Block out all of the suffering and allow one to feel a fleeting moment of joy, regardless of the circumstances. No matter how sad, angry, confused, or depressed you are, a little bit of heroin will have you floating on clouds, a beacon of pure bliss. Therein lies the problem. The drug can be used to forget life's woes, even the ones that are occuring right now.

Addiction doesn't make people want to kill themselves. People that want to kill themselves get addicted.

The true question is, what part of his life was so bad, so unfulfilling, so painful that he would take to playing a relatively boring, poorly rendered simulation of life as a replacement for what he was missing? Was it a physical disability? Nope. Was it a past emotional trauma? I doubt it. Was it because he lived in a society that equates personal worth with fame and fortune, and as an average joe pizza drone, stood an unbelievably slim chance of ever amounting to more than a social security number and a couple of kids? Hmmm... I think you might have something there...

Nonsense (none / 0) (#126)
by trhurler on Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 04:22:15 PM EST

People who aren't likely to get addicted don't play MMORPGs. On the other hand, your joe pizza comment isn't true - most MMORPGers who are successful are very intelligent, have useful skills in the real world, and what they're lacking is a social life.

The fact is, average people don't play, and the people who do play probably ought to be banned for the simple reason that they're going to get addicted, because otherwise they wouldn't be playing.

You can make such people addicts to almost anything. They are frequently cult members. They are frequently junkies. Couch potatoes. Almost anything really, but the more personal interaction there is, the more likely it becomes.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Nonsense...why? (none / 0) (#142)
by Jack9 on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 12:32:29 PM EST

I think you're trying to draw a faulted correlation. Playing MMORPGs does not mean you are probably a smart geek. Joe Pizza is the majority of players. MMORPGs are not the bastion of the up and coming intellectual elite any more than Kuro5hin is.
Often wrong but never in doubt.
I am Jack9.
Everyone knows me.

[ Parent ]
Heh (none / 0) (#143)
by trhurler on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 08:13:28 PM EST

The players who stick with it are almost invariably techies of one sort or another. If you haven't noticed this, I can't help you.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
answer to question... (none / 0) (#137)
by Fuzzwah on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 11:55:23 PM EST

The true question is, what part of his life was so bad, so unfulfilling, so painful that he would take to playing a relatively boring, poorly rendered simulation of life as a replacement for what he was missing?

Epic Drops :)

The best a human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day. - God's Debris
[ Parent ]

Couple of fine point differences (none / 1) (#145)
by Bossk on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 10:14:22 AM EST

The drug can be used to forget life's woes, even the ones that are occuring right now.

Not all addicts become users to avoid pain. Some will partake for the purposes of enhancement or pleasure. Now feeling pleasure is not the equivalent of eliminating pain, although they are related. Of course if you are feeling pain, you might as well eliminate it, then add some pleasure on top.

[ Parent ]

pain v. lack of pleasure (none / 1) (#146)
by IkeTyu on Thu Aug 18, 2005 at 11:23:32 AM EST

In my experience people who take drugs, or partake in any addictive activity, simply as an enhancement of the pleasures of worldly life, are MUCH less likely to form a dangerous dependency. This is simply because they will tend to use drugs at a more socially apropriate time. i.e. a party, rave, kegger, whatever. When the instances of drug use are temporaly isolated like this, they are easy to control. It is when the drug starts to be used as a companion in every day life that things become more slippery.

For instance, smoking. There are many people that smoke only at parties, these people are not addicted to cigarettes, they simply enjoy smoking them at a socially apropriate time. 2 or three of them a couple times a week when they go out drinking or whatever. These people are relatively safe from addiction. It is when you start to smoke out of this context that you start to get addicted. You start to smoke one on your car ride to work, you smoke one on your 5 minute break from your cubicle, whatever. it is when the boundaries of when/where you smoke begin to disolve, that you find yourself in an addiction.

[ Parent ]
Missing the Target (1.00 / 2) (#136)
by packMule on Mon Aug 15, 2005 at 06:37:11 PM EST

I find it interesting that people rant about things they obviously know little about. MMOGs are a game, and many many people use it as such. I play WoW, and I actually have a life. I play it not to make friends or run away from reality, but to enjoy time with friends I already have (and met in the real world). I spend as much as 24 hours a week sometimes to as little as 6 hours a week. There will be people who abuse it, or rather poeple who abuse themselves with it, but this is true for anything from chemicals to coke bottles.

And different people like different games. I played Counter Strike for quite a while, but I wouldn't call it deep compared to WoW. I would call it fun, which they both can be.

Am I addicted? I doubt it. Was that dude who died after playing for 49 hours in a row going to die from something similar anyway - hell yes. He was going to die, and die by his own hand. If it wasn't an online game he would have played chicken with an 18 wheeler or picked up crack.

These games do not kill.

G**ks waste life in imaginary race to the bottom. (none / 1) (#139)
by Robert Acton on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 06:34:17 AM EST

Well, whatever. They weren't doing much with it anyway.

From my own brief flings with WoW and Dark Age of Camelot, it was obvious that the social skills of most of the people you encounter in these worlds are, well, shit. If you talk to another player about anything, it's about equipment and "what build r u". So I'm not convinced it's a social need that's being satisfied.

Once read an article on what variety of need it was, exactly. I think it talked about hamsters or something.

I am cured.

Also (none / 1) (#141)
by Robert Acton on Tue Aug 16, 2005 at 06:43:25 AM EST

Why do people play these games? It makes them happy. This gives you a feeling of superiority, which makes you happy. $15 a month times, like, a billion, makes game companies and their shareholders happy.

Folks be happy is my motto.

I am cured.

I play.. kinda.. (none / 1) (#147)
by asym on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:42:36 AM EST

Old story, but who cares, I feel in a posty mood today.

I've never played Everquest, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, or any MMOGs with the exception of two..

1) PlanetSide.  This is SOEs attempt at an MMOFPS.  Think subscription based UT play with hundreds of other players at once.  We, the players, complain incessantly about the bugs and problems with the game, but we still pay;  All things considered, they've done pretty well with a very non-trivial problem to solve.

2) Face of Mankind.  This one is by German developers Duplex Systems, and is really the first real MMORPG.  It is an FPS interface, but you're there to play a role (role-play, hence, RPG) in a larger system.  Great story, great engine, great concept, since they've found a publisher all it lacks is more exposure.  FoM is currently in open beta.

That said, and as hard as it may be to believe, one of the seemingly overlooked aspects of "Why they(we) play" is supendously simple:  The social aspect.

"Social aspect" you ask in a tone that indicates abject disbelief.  Yes.  "In a FIRST PERSON SHOOTER?!"  Yes.

My "guild" (called an "Outfit" in Planetside) has roughly 200 active players, and a remarkably strong sense of community.  Our website forums have over 20k posts in 4k topics, with nearly 1000 registered users.

We organize get togethers, send eachother spare hardware, and even have something rarely used called the "benevolence fund" where down-on-their-luck gamers can go to request the group pay their gaming fee for the month.

In the downtime, when we're not in the thick of a fight, we chat on our teamspeak server about everything you can imagine -- a conference call on steroids.

As individuals, we return and continue to play because of the other individuals.  There is a sense of pride and "uberness" to our group, as a whole, because we're the #1 ranked outfit on our server, in most categories.

We all share one belief though, that keeps us together.  Our "uberness" came as a result of our great community, not the other way around.

Define addiction... (none / 1) (#150)
by lotzik on Wed Sep 14, 2005 at 05:56:44 AM EST

pfff...addiction. I wouldn't know how to explain in scientific terms "addiction". But common speaking... "it's something that someone does, repeatevely, up to being obsessed with it, without being able to figure out why" 1st point backwards: "Figure out why"...what are we actually capable of figurin out? Are we capable of definin why we do whatever we are doing? All patterns of behavior are based on society calls, and hell they are so pointless, we only know it after they rendered obsolete and not during the time we are actually practice them. 2nd: Obsessions...people always need to be obsessed with something. Others get obsessed with religion, others get obsessed with sex, others get obsessed with their love partner, others with having friends...we are so full of it. Everyone has fears and stuff that matter alot to him/her. Even the most not-gettin-obsessed-with-anything person, is obsessed with not-gettin-obsessed-with-anything. The most certain thing is that our true fear, is what is happening to us. 3rd: Do repeatevely. Yes, it felt nice the 1st time, the 2nd and the 3rd. I'm feeling safe with the pleasure this certain behavior gives me. I won't bother searching for another one, because i'm not some adventurous guy. I'm just seeking safety in this crazy world in the shelter of my own pattern of living. So why do you people actually critisize everyone that decided to play a game as his/her repeatitive pattern...?! What makes you think that standing right on top of the term "ordinary"-"succesful" is the proper goal to achieve happiness. No it isn't for many people out there. -Ordinary- does not exist, everyone around you is so damn afraid of anything, we emerged into the age of pure egoism and we just protect our image. We all feel unique but we are so crappin same to everyone else it's just bothers us, we desperetely try to get abit different. And whoever actually achieves it, becomes a freak, an eccentric, a hermit, or just lonely. There is no standard right path of good living out there. There is no good living and bad living. There is only living, that eventually leads to death. Just lean back do whatever comes to your mind, it's all normal for that certain you. And that way you will be happy with you, coz you are happy for living at least anyway. If you don't want to live anymore, just kill yourself, in the long term nobody can blame anyone for anything. Stop bothering.

MMOGS: Abandon hope all ye who enter | 149 comments (121 topical, 28 editorial, 0 hidden)
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