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Seen some people creating posts about the community of MMORPG's and things that effect them and it started me thinking of how the community has evolved. So I'll lay out my opinion on how the community evolved, and see what you all think and have to add.
* Pre - WoW Era (AKA "The Golden Age")
This was the height of the mmorpg genre IMHO, because this was the era when MMORPG's were created by fans for the fans, and populated only by a niche group of gamers who's passion was to live a second life through their avatar in an online environment with other players. There was a tight knit global community, because everyone needed to group to get the best xp and to overcome challenges encountered on a daily basis that was too much for any one person to overcome. A servers community as a whole got along great, worked well together, and was helpful. People eventually grew closer to people as they leveled up and formed guilds. While guilds were formed of like-minded and goal oriented players, they weren't a players sole source of socialization. People still talked with, grouped regularly with, and otherwise socialized with the larger server community.
* The WoW Era
This era, when WoW was gaining steam, and before all the WoW clones, the community was in-between what it was before WoW and what it is now. Back then, leveling still took time, but the focus on group leveling was replaced by quest-hub leveling. Also, the elimated the need for crafted gear to get through the game, since quests and mobs rewarded gear often enough not to need it. Because whoever tags a mob first, hits the harvesting node first, and so on gets credit, this new system pitted one player against the other. Even in group content (dungeons and raids) it was players pitted against each other for drops. So you seen the global community slowly disappear while the guild communities started to rise in popularity. While you could still somewhat depend on other players to group up for needed things, your guild was your go to place for any serious socialization.
* Post-WoW Era (AKA "The Clone Period*)
WoW still exists, investors have seen WoW's success and decided to clone WoW in many parts, while dumbing down the game mechanics even further. WoW also does the same over the years. Thus the final nail in server wide communities are gone, and the focus is purely on guild communities. WoW introduced the genre to a larger market, a market where people have lots of friends who also play MMORPG's, so people rely less on strangers, and instead stick to their friends and guilds. Socialization outside of guild chat is usually trolling or youngster chat in /general and the like, chat channels. If you want a good community experience, people tell you to join a guild. The problem with this, unlike Pre-WoW games, joining a guild is like rolling a dice, since you haven't grouped with any of those people yet, so you don't know how you will get along with them and etc. Before WoW, you knew the people around you before you ever joined their guild, so you didn't join a guild lightly. You usually joined 1 guild pre-WoW and that was it, you were loyal. Post-WoW, there are hundreds and thousands of guilds, all claiming to offer the same thing, and so on. If you want to feel like you're a part of any kind of community, guilds is where it's at.
So there we are, my opinion on the evolution of the MMORPG community. While some games have tried to bring back or improve old mechanics in order to foster and encourage a server-wide community in recent history, most haven't. Players are now used to how things are done in the Post-WoW era, and I don't know if we'll ever have communities like we did before WoW came out. People just expect instant features, and quick fixes. Jump in, jump out sorta things. Quick fun, less work, maximum gain. That sorta thing.