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Why do women oooh at a 6-pack and 5% bodyfat, and why do men bust their butts to get down to that?
It's not healthy, you actually feel like crap when you're that low, you can only be that low temporarily, and the body is getting ready to eat your muscle if you screw up in the slightest.
So, if it's not healthy, why do we like it? Because it's harder to get, because it's rare.
I hate to tell you all, but the days of gaming where you gain an edge or position of prestige that others can "ooh and ahh" at or look up to, is gone in the days of the hardcore players and guilds and monetized sites having their own youtube channels.
Take Guild Wars 2 for instance. What is the point of putting these puzzles and 'vistas' (points you have to figure out how to climb/explore to get xp for) when pretty much everyone and their guild buddies who are goal-focused, are just going to go on youtube and type in that exact vista, and watch some guy do it, which there will be plenty of people doing that, or a raid boss tutorial, or any tutorial for anything because they want likes, subscribers, etc (to monetize or whatever)?
One could say "well, buddy, that's the world now, demystified and equalized by the internet". Yeah, it's true. Even PvP'ers don't experiment anymore, they just go look for the few builds with the most feedback, and then compare the feedback, and pick whatever they see as the better chance to dominate.
I remember playing SWG back in 2003 or whatever it was, and people were thinking "man, what is that guy using? What's his spec?". The so-called community wasn't as 'progressed' as it is now.
In short, the point of my post is that there is a conundrum in modern gaming, where the abundance of information to everyone, the ease of availability combined with the willingness of content providers (forum posters seeking prestige, but usually people like Taugrim trying to monetize, not a jab at Taugrim, but he is an example of facilitators), has made it so that these RPG's are completely demystified, equalized, and therefore boring.
And the reality is this: value lies in the exclusivity of knowledge; once you remove the exclusivity of knowledge, then it becomes an equalized grind where all that matters is who is willing to sit around for 18 hours a day playing a game, or throw real money at it to get ahead.
And that is exactly what these games are today, and NO developer will get around this so far as I can see. It is not the developers fault, but rather the general environment and mentality.
Crafting is also a fine example of this. Crafting in most of these games now is just a cash sink, because the easier it is to figure out, the less exclusive the knowledge, and thus the lower the profits and 'differences'.
This is really just the same old story though. The middle class American worker was making, well, a middle class wage, without even a high school degree, up until the mid-late 20th century. When he began to share the exclusivity of his knowledge to the rest of the world, when he began to open up his books and "teach the rest of the world to fish instead of selling them fish", naturally, it became more equal, and now, many people with 4-year degree's hardly live as well as high-school dropouts did back then, because they compete with a world that now profits from much of what was once exclusive knowledge.
I don't want to drift too far off topic, but I hope this sheds some light on how the landscape of gaming in general is MOST CERTAINLY in a different era than even 10 years ago. Maybe some developers will contemplate these realities in their quest to make better games.