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[Column] General: Where's the Social?

24

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  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,660Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by rodingo

    It's beginning to be much more of a trend to blame game design on the lack of social gameplay.  Sure older games forced you to be more social by making you have to group and/or spam chat for more group members, but I wouldn't say that was so much a design decision as to it being more of a lack of design experience for Devs and their player bases.  The devs simply didn't think about or even know how to deliver content otherwise other than spawning mobs that take a group to kill.  Things change and evolve.  Games are no different and neither are people. 

    Downtime was the result of technical reasons, not lack of design experience or lack of knowledge of how to deliver content, as many of the early MMO leads had extensive backgrounds in MUDs/MOOs.

    Keep in mind EQ isn't "older games" it's just one, and much of what you list there is rather exclusive to that game, as they were less of an issue or non-existent in UO, AC, SWG, EVE, ATITD, There, Puzzle Pirates, Project Entropia, and most other early MMOs. EQ isn't "the old days' it's simply EQ.

    Most of the mainstream MMOs have the same design - kill stuff to level to kill bigger stuff to level to kill bigger stuff. Even the progression, classes, theme, and manner of killing stuff is the relatively same. Content outside that has little or no bearing on progression, if it even exists at all. As a result, these games are solely about leveling. Combine that with the extreme level disparity and you have games where even when you are part of a guild/clan, you can easily end up outside of the group's activities simply by mssing a few days of gameplay. When the only thing to do is level, stopping to do anything else is simply counter productive, not just in advancement, but socially, as well.

    A good portion of the blame does fall squarely on the shoulder of the devs as the newer games do not have social tools and are unbelievably linear. The games that do have social tools have far more interaction. Log into Puzzle Pirates or Free Realms and you see people gathering just to hang out together. You will meet people that are just congregating at a person's house to play various games and chat. They can do that in those games because the tools are there to support social activities and if they don't go leveling for a few days, they aren't 'falling behind'.

    Many devs create duct tape solutions to these problems in the form of sidekick and mentor features, but that doesn't add to interaction and social activities, it just (barely) fixes the part they've broken.

     

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • JagaridJagarid West Covina, CAPosts: 415Member

    I think the problem is that these type of games have become popular.   More people playing (a whole lot more people) means a lot more assholes.  

     I know the reason I am much more hesitant to reach out to befriend folks now then I was 10-15 years ago is because 9 out of 10 times when I do, the person is a self-centered, egomaniacal, ass-hat.   10-15 years ago it was the opposite, 9 out of 10 people were decent and friendly.

    Online gaming has gone from being a small market with a tight-knit community to a mass-market filled with the common folks.   And the simple fact is that common folks are selfish and mean.

  • rodingorodingo Posts: 2,346Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by rodingo

    It's beginning to be much more of a trend to blame game design on the lack of social gameplay.  Sure older games forced you to be more social by making you have to group and/or spam chat for more group members, but I wouldn't say that was so much a design decision as to it being more of a lack of design experience for Devs and their player bases.  The devs simply didn't think about or even know how to deliver content otherwise other than spawning mobs that take a group to kill.  Things change and evolve.  Games are no different and neither are people. 

    Downtime was the result of technical reasons, not lack of design experience or lack of knowledge of how to deliver content, as many of the early MMO leads had extensive backgrounds in MUDs/MOOs.

    Keep in mind EQ isn't "older games" it's just one, and much of what you list there is rather exclusive to that game, as they were less of an issue or non-existent in UO, AC, SWG, EVE, ATITD, There, Puzzle Pirates, Project Entropia, and most other early MMOs. EQ isn't "the old days' it's simply EQ.

    Most of the mainstream MMOs have the same design - kill stuff to level to kill bigger stuff to level to kill bigger stuff. Even the progression, classes, theme, and manner of killing stuff is the relatively same. Content outside that has little or no bearing on progression, if it even exists at all. As a result, these games are solely about leveling. Combine that with the extreme level disparity and you have games where even when you are part of a guild/clan, you can easily end up outside of the group's activities simply by mssing a few days of gameplay. When the only thing to do is level, stopping to do anything else is simply counter productive, not just in advancement, but socially, as well.

    A good portion of the blame does fall squarely on the shoulder of the devs as the newer games do not have social tools and are unbelievably linear. The games that do have social tools have far more interaction. Log into Puzzle Pirates or Free Realms and you see people gathering just to hang out together. You will meet people that are just congregating at a person's house to play various games and chat. They can do that in those games because the tools are there to support social activities and if they don't go leveling for a few days, they aren't 'falling behind'.

    Many devs create duct tape solutions to these problems in the form of sidekick and mentor features, but that doesn't add to interaction and social activities, it just (barely) fixes the part they've broken.

     

     

    I see what you are saying mostly, however here is something to think about.  You mentioned games like Puzzle Pirates and Free Realms.  Personally I really don't know much about those games but I could imagine the people who choose to play those games over the more heavy combat/leveling games are probably naturally a more social crowd anyways.  I'm sure they don't play those games for high level end game play.  Like I said though, your keyboard is always there at your fingertips.  The idea of  "falling behind" is still up to the player's choice.  If that's the person's sole purpose to play the game, and granted there are plenty that are like that, that still falls on the player.   Not everyone logs into games and hits the ground running non-stop to max level.  In SWG or Neocron I didn't need speccially made dev tools to socialize.  I just used my keyboard which is what I also use now.  Are extra events and tools a nice addition to a game?  You bet.  Lotro used to have good turn outs for their seasonal festivals. Not sure now though since I have not played during a festival in a few years.  However,  those things or something similar shouldn't be used so much as a crutch. 

     

    "If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  • SnakexSnakex Dana Point, CAPosts: 260Member
    This article is great. Sadly iv seen that now we must go to those under developed games now to obtain social interactions such as Darkfall
  • TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAPosts: 3,605Member

    A lot of gamers have moved into the mmo arena and they have brought with them their antisocial behaviors. 

     

    But there are still some that roleplay, it just seems hard to find them.  I have no interest in competing with anyone other than myself.  I just want to enjoy my online friends and have a good time.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,660Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by rodingo

    I see what you are saying mostly, however here is something to think about.  You mentioned games like Puzzle Pirates and Free Realms.  Personally I really don't know much about those games but I could imagine the people who choose to play those games over the more heavy combat/leveling games are probably naturally a more social crowd anyways.  I'm sure they don't play those games for high level end game play.  Like I said though, your keyboard is always there at your fingertips.  The idea of  "falling behind" is still up to the player's choice.  If that's the person's sole purpose to play the game, and granted there are plenty that are like that, that still falls on the player. 

    I did think about it, which is why I presented the significant design differences not only between the older MMOs and newer ones, but between the more social newer ones and the less social newer ones. Is it that you do not accept those differences or that you do not see them?

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • rodingorodingo Posts: 2,346Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by rodingo

    I see what you are saying mostly, however here is something to think about.  You mentioned games like Puzzle Pirates and Free Realms.  Personally I really don't know much about those games but I could imagine the people who choose to play those games over the more heavy combat/leveling games are probably naturally a more social crowd anyways.  I'm sure they don't play those games for high level end game play.  Like I said though, your keyboard is always there at your fingertips.  The idea of  "falling behind" is still up to the player's choice.  If that's the person's sole purpose to play the game, and granted there are plenty that are like that, that still falls on the player. 

    I did think about it, which is why I presented the significant design differences not only between the older MMOs and newer ones, but between the more social newer ones and the less social newer ones. Is it that you do not accept those differences or that you do not see them?

     

    I think we actually agree more on certain points than we disagree.  Like you said in an earlier post about how the older games like UO, DAoC and EQ were more social becuase "... most of the players had very similar interests."  I agree completely.  I also agree that most mainstream MMO's follow the same design of to kill stuff in order to be able to kill bigger stuff.  Other than Eve though, is there really now or have been in the past a game that wasn't designed around that as its core?  I also think you are being a little extreme about how if you do something outside leveling, that you are being counter- productive.  Sure some guilds are all about world firsts or power progression and will leave you behind, but those guilds don't represent the majority.  The design of the game is not at fault for that, but rather the guild's leadership (players).  EDIT: Pretty much every MMO allows guilds to be formed so it's well in your power and ability to join or form one.  In fact I can't think of an MMO off the bat that doesn't allow for guilds. If someone plays the game solo and gets "left behind", then guess what?  It was that player's fault for playing solo (aka, not being social), not the fault of game design. People often complain about how games today hold the player's hand with the level of difficulty and what-not, but they still want the game to hold their hand and socialize for them.

    I also agree that mentoring or sidekicking doesn't provide socializing, however I don't think it was meant to.  I believe that was more of a simple face value tool for friends to be able to play with each other who were actually at different levels.  In that case, the social bond of players was already there to begin with.

    I'm honestly interested in what your solution is to this problem of socialization.  My solution simply starts with the player to determine when to socialize.  Like you said, if the players have similar interest the socialization will be there.  Heck even the insane power leveling guilds are still socializing by discussing builds, strategies, and dungeon/raid forming and meeting times.  And they are even doing this outside of game with teamspeak, ventrillo, and their own websites.   That is nothing new and they will continue to do so even with the newer MMOs that have yet to be released wether they are sandbox, thempark, or whatever.

    So in all honesty, let me hear what you have to say about a way to fix, change or enhance the current situation.  You say "tools".  Ok, but in the form of what?

    "If I offended you, you needed it" -Corey Taylor

  • cconroy11cconroy11 orlando, FLPosts: 16Member

    I think its a lot of these "tools" that kill the social aspect.

    Perception is our window into reality, an mmo attempts to take you into this new world, filled with creatures, and your supposed to "feel" your character you create. I cant tell you how many hours Ive spent trying to find that perfect name, or making the character look and feel just right.

    These tools take away from that perception... Back in the day you used to have to manually find a group... as would someone if they really lived in the said game world. Things like the LFG tool, take away from what makes the reality of the game plausable.

    You used to have to manually find a group, then you would all have to find each other, then, you would all ahve to make your way too said questing,leveling,raiding spot....While this was all happening you were all communicating, getting to know each other, and BAM thats were the magic happens!

    Back then mmos were fun, they were thrilling, you didnt want your character to die, you wanted glory! I remember my heart pounding going through deadmines the first time... I dont care if you find that funny or cheesy, but it is a memory I have and probobly always will, thanks to the conditions I listed above.

    image
  • HedeonHedeon GraestedPosts: 954Member Uncommon

    I do miss "social" in MMOs, but my main problem with it is I hardly see the point in doing so, usually I dont even buy the MMO after a "beta", so I spend so little time in a MMO that I dont care to look for people I care to chat with, there is simply so many that are busy trying to belittle other people, to be able to indirectly brag about their own uberness....it is simply sickning behavior to me. 

    overall the way most people behave make me wonder why they even play online games, as it seems like other people is just an annoying part of an otherwise, to me, boring game - Ive yet to play a MMO that I found really fun, if it werent for the social part, compared to singleplayer games.

    it is what makes it hard to find a new group of players, for me, am too used to how my old EQ2 guild were....which happend to be mainly old EQ1 players...

  • UsualSuspectUsualSuspect CardiffPosts: 1,243Member

    I see it more as a result of the current social environment. I'm 42 so I've seen a few things come and go, none more so than the way people have become more insular over the years. When I was a kid people left their doors open all day so the neighbours could pop in, kids would be left to play out in the street, there'd be chats across the back gardens and children would often go for long journeys alone, riding bikes or investigating the local woods.

    Now, I look out my front door and the streets are empty, all the doors locked tight, I look out my back garden and every house has fencing so high that nobody can see in. The kids are locked away like fragile little mice, parents afraid that someone might snatch them if they avert their gaze for even a second, teenagers are viewed as violent and dangerous, gangs that will beat you and take your mobile phone.. that's if they're not on their mobile phones, even together they're alone, tapping away to update Facebook or send a Twitter comment, ignoring the friends they're supposed to be hanging out with.

    The news speaks of terrorists around every corner, paedophiles ready to snatch your children, knife crime and murders, missing persons, racial hatred, economic collapse, price increases, and it goes on and on. We used to be a race that could get along with each other, invite each other into our homes, now we've become increasingly insular, wary, suspicious of every stranger.

    It's no wonder the social aspect has left gaming.. it's left everywhere else too.

  • EhliyaEhliya Washington, DCPosts: 199Member

    I agree 100 percent.  The MMORPG scene has developed towards a single-player style.  There are few real reasons to develop mutually supportive relationships since each avatar is created self-contained.  GW2 is the best example of this....you really have no need to engage with anyone to accomplish your tasks.  Combine this with the prevalence of theme park mechanics and you feel the genre is devolving.  The games are getting prettier but dumber. 

  • SevroSevro Vancouver, BCPosts: 1Member
    agree with OP 100%
  • Ashoka14Ashoka14 San Diego, CAPosts: 2Member
    I too miss the social part of the game I use to play swg and I played ent.Playing in the cantina and doing buffs was great way to talk to people I met slot good friends that way.
    Sadly since swg is no more and some of the games I still play do not have any social to them and unfortunately some friend stop playing due rl things so game I play I am by myself No one to talk to.
    I am in guild in eq2 but no one really talk in there it do sad even if your in guild sometimes you feel alone in there too.
    I wish game developers would include in the game place to relax and talk to people or just get up and dance or whatever you wanted to do a break from questing and raiding.
    But sadly I doubt if any game William have that I bought founder game for neverwinter when it comes out but I have feeling it won't have any social aspect to it either.
    Maybe I am dying breed if gamer that miss the social fun of meeting people and making new friends
  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,717Member Uncommon

    Deja vu... We had the same thread here a week ago (only Christina's column was more thorough :) )

    To avoid going through the subject all over again, here it is in a nutshell: -forced methods suck, -back then there were less games and less players, -players with a shared interest of rpg or games, -since then the market got filled / even saturated with mmo's, -the player numbers were exploded, -biggest part of the playerbase now the casuals who just want to have fun, -socializing ways and methods are exploded as well.

    Bottom line, it's not "missing" social or "less" social, just different social (as Christina wrote as well). And most importantly, it still up to the people to socialize, the game can't do it for the players.

     

    Originally posted by rodingo

    So no, it's not game design.  Speccially when your keyboard is right there at your fingertips the whole time you are playing the game.  Just learn to type "hello" again.  If another player doesn't respond, is it really the game's fault?  Believe it or not saying "hello" in the real world is how the majority of friendships actually begin. 

    Agree. There are still rp servers and guilds in most games, social events (probably rodingo was who mentioned LotRO's festivals as well), devs can help with stuff like TSW's theatre and the club, etc. but in the end the choice is still in the player's hands.

    I'm not happy either that a big chunk of players are exists in games only like hermits. But it's a change you can't turn back, the aged methods aren't working. I saw a kid once playing GW2, on ventrilo with buddies in-game, on the side skyped with friends outside the game and occasionally goofed around with his mobile (facebook / twitter / any other crap sites). You or the devs could say he isn't social in the game, or he should dedicate more into the game like we did in the old days. I bet he would only answer something mods would edit right away :) And that's how the majority of the playerbase looks today... Not rude I mean, only they don't need the game for socializing at all.

     

    Edit: left out the answer... Where's the Social? It's still in-game, true nowadays much less players are interested in it. But you can find it, just look harder :)

  • shalissarshalissar Pohjois-PohjanmaaPosts: 298Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    I'm sorry, but this is just ridiculous.  Create your own communities and stop depending on game mechanics to do it for you.  Every game has Guild features that make it incredibly easy to surround yourself with like minded players.  If that's not enough, then maybe the issue is with you and not everyone else.

    Agreed. I know exactly what to do if I want to socialize in a game. I roll on a rp server if I can and/or join a guild. I take the initiative and if people don't respond, then they don't respond. And nobody owes it to anyone to be social either. If I don't want to talk to you or be your friend, no amount of downtime or other assorted game mechanics is going to make me. Sorry, but that's just how it is.

     
  • HedeonHedeon GraestedPosts: 954Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by shalissar
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    I'm sorry, but this is just ridiculous.  Create your own communities and stop depending on game mechanics to do it for you.  Every game has Guild features that make it incredibly easy to surround yourself with like minded players.  If that's not enough, then maybe the issue is with you and not everyone else.

    Agreed. I know exactly what to do if I want to socialize in a game. I roll on a rp server if I can and/or join a guild. I take the initiative and if people don't respond, then they don't respond. And nobody owes it to anyone to be social either. If I don't want to talk to you or be your friend, no amount of downtime or other assorted game mechanics is going to make me. Sorry, but that's just how it is.

     

    downtime doesnt force anyone to be social, but how I experience grouping now, without it, is that if you try to talk to people through the chat box, in combat situations, you will be told to stop slacking, or might be pointed out as the reason the group died, depending on the reaction speed needed by the game and how terrible slow someone may be at typing...so no downtime during battles means it will just be like an action/beat em up game - not that Id want to see huge downtimes, but am sure my 2 minuteish in combat situations, downtime is too long for the more impatient, and am sure alot find me impatient saying about 2 minutes is alot.

    mind you that this only happend to me in tera - being told to shut up, but it is very ordinary, in my experience to see other people to be told to stop slacking/chatting.

     

     

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 5,762Member Uncommon

    “because let's remember, the reason why you became fast friends with somebody was similar to how war veterans make buddies. The scars aren't physical: but they're very real.”

    Very true.

     

    “I still remain tight lipped in-game, refusing to reach out. And am I the only one?”

    Find a new guild of like minded players, there are tons out there.

  • irek131irek131 SiwialkaPosts: 2Member
    Yup... there's just no reason now to make groups in MMOs. I remember playing Lineage 2 on C3-C4 where u HAD to make a group to progress. Leveling alone on higher lvls was worthless. All that fun of raiding and making group was just priceless to me. Clans had to be really active to get attention of players to grow in numbers. Eh.. what have they done to my precious game ;_;
  • znaiikaznaiika denver, PAPosts: 203Member
    Originally posted by BigHatLogan
    I really enjoyed this article as it touches on some important issues with MMORPGs.  I disagree with some of the author's conclusions.  I am asking MMORPGs to take a step back.  It would be really nice to see some games with harsh death penalties and difficult content.  MMORPGs nowadays measure play time, not skill.  Anyone can solo their way to the cap without issue.  If the mobs were, smarter, tougher, and capable of inflicting harsh death penalties people might actually communicate and group up to play the game.  The danger of loss of that sacred "progression" or whatever people call it will make all combat meaningful.  People will fondly remember close calls, and lament disastrous losses.  The successes will be legendary.  They will feel emotion, and tell stories of the game long after the developers pull the plug.  No one cares about stories from modern mmorpgs.  No one cares that a player got killed by a mob and lost a grand total of 2 minutes of their life running back to their corpse.    MMORPG developers need to take a page of Dark Souls, or DayZ, or EVE.  Those games have great stories, and great communities, because playing these games means a lot more than simply putting the time in. 

    I bet 100%, that lots of individuals will never play such games, no one want any forcing.

    The main cause for people not to communicate in an online games, "is" no one has respect for "other", it's easier to just avoid conversations.

  • falconhandfalconhand ZuidbroekPosts: 47Member Uncommon
    Played daoc wow eq2 aoc etc myself also. I think it is not only the no need can do it solo feeling for most mmo's these days. For myself I noticed an other thing. When a new mmo release lots of multi mmo guilds are allready formed before it even starts. And like someone else mentioned sitting I front of a pc screen is not your standard social kind of person, so where at daoc you allmost where forced to trust strangers -esp when entering the pvp area to do certain quests- to complete things, these days you stay at your comfortzone and trust your friends you have made in earlier mmo's. Like znaiika mentioned it is easier to avoid the stranger.
  • dgarbinidgarbini San Jose, CAPosts: 185Member

    I would agree with this article quite a bit.  Back in the 90's when I played these game much of the friendships developed were associated with shared danger, concuring obsticals and of course the extensive time it took to do things.  MMO's today franky are just to plain short to really get invested in anything (this goes for all games in general though).  One charicter on GW2 took me only 60 hrs to max level, I have had longer single player games.  In fact I orginally picked up MMO's because I was looking for something to last me longer then the typical rpg game.

     

    But it feels to me like one of those things that can never be taken back.  Grinding, harsh penalties for death or stupidity or not working together will never be accepted by the masses today.  Niche gaming is a possibility.

     

    I also feel its a generational shift, where people socialize differently.  I wont say its right or wrong because who am I to judge, but if you look at gaming community, internet, or chatrooms from the 90's and compare them to today, I feel it is quite different.  So I cannot blame the developers alone.  Today instead of writting your friend a well thought email, you twitter them ten words of junk.  Today instead of making friends with someone who took the time to help or save you in a game, you dont even get a thank you half the time.  People just dont interact with eachother the same anymore.

     

    All that being said, I do still tend to see this in the PVP communities.  As much as I typically think PVP communities are toxic, they do seem to form much better bonds.

  • ksternalksternal Hainesport, NJPosts: 81Member
    Problem is the devs these days aren't making true MMORPG's they are making MMO with the almost all of the content single player content with the option of multi-player for the extremely very few Flashpoints/ Dungeons/ Strike Forces. Doesn't help either when you do team with people and you complete ones of these or if you decide to run a regular mission with another person the rewards for completing these are based on a single player even if 5+ players are envolved and on top of that the peice of gear might not even be able to be used by your toon. Hell I know for a fact I won't want to play a game like that.
  • MadimorgaMadimorga Atlanta, GAPosts: 2,014Member Common

    For me it wasn't a lack of tools that makes me antisocial, it was a build up of negative experiences with other players over the years making it so any game that tries to force me to be social loses my interest. 

     

    Actually, my first MMO was Anarchy Online and mostly I soloed that, too, but when I did group I enjoyed it, until I hit level 200 and realized I couldn't do much of anything anymore unless I grouped with others.  That pissed me off even before I'd had enough of other players.

     

    A dungeon finder is actually likely to make me more social because I can hop into a group and if people are friendly I will chit chat with them.  But I won't stand around spamming 'LFG' just because devs have some vain hope that this will force more socializing.  I don't like wasting my precious time and that isn't really socializing anyway.  Nor will I deal with guild drama.

     

    I wondered why Guild Wars 2, a polished, new, mostly well thought out game didn't have a dungeon finder.  But now I figure it's because the devs had delusions that people would stick around longer if they joined dungeon treadmill guilds and 'made friends' with other players.

     

    Yeah, how is that working out I wonder?

     

     

    image

    I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals.

    ~Albert Einstein

  • TheodwulfTheodwulf Brockton, MAPosts: 231Member Uncommon

       I don't think alot of you guys "get it". put up with your 'issues"? I do Not wish to socialize with you. I do NOT care if your mom and dad are "hassling" you!  The people who want heavy socaily requirments (amongst everything else) are a fringe audience (albeit the first audeince tapped by this genre). There is a reason that the genre has evolved past such things, because the people with money and a will to spend it were not interested.

      Games are meant to be fun, and MMORPGs are not supposed to be jobs we pay for!

  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,228Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ksternal
    Problem is the devs these days aren't making true MMORPG's they are making MMO with the almost all of the content single player content with the option of multi-player for the extremely very few Flashpoints/ Dungeons/ Strike Forces. Doesn't help either when you do team with people and you complete ones of these or if you decide to run a regular mission with another person the rewards for completing these are based on a single player even if 5+ players are envolved and on top of that the peice of gear might not even be able to be used by your toon. Hell I know for a fact I won't want to play a game like that.

     

    No they're making the same thing they've always made. The difference is the amount of information available and the number of players who know about it.

    Why aren't players more social in games these days? The real question should be "What is there to talk about in games these days?"

    Players have ruined it for themselves with heavy forum participation, 3rd party fan sites that contain all the info about everything in the game! Back in the day you would sit in chat and talk about various in game things, be they mechanics, locations, mobs, gear, abilities, so on. But now, it's all available either before lauch or very shortly after.

    Let's be honest, joining a freshly launched MMO (headstart is even better) is usually the best chance you have to experience the most raw state that mmo will ever be in. Players will generally be the most talkative at that point and usually people will be friendly. But that goes away realyl quickly doesn't it? As soon as those 3rd party sites are up and running the community turns rabid and eveyone expects you to know what you're doing.

    Information and knowledge demystify games. And large games that involve exploration (read: MMOs) get cut off at the knees because the players want to know, but rather than running around the world to find out, they just alt tab open a browser window and read about it. How many people acutally do raid content totally blind anymore? If you don't know what a boss does during each phase and how to react to it, you'll get called out in the best case and booted and banned in the worst case.

    It's not just MMO's do this: Wait for the next MTG block to rotate into standard, do not check the internet at all! Make a deck you are happy with, again, do not read anything about MTG on the web during this time. Go to a tournament. Even if you're a great deck builder, you're going to have a line of people waiting to make fun of you because you aren't playing one of three tier one decks or you managed to build one similar and they're making fun of you for your sub-optimal choices. Are you going to blame CCG designers for this? No, it's the internet effect.

    Back to MMO's, another reason you can blame the players, remember the days before quest finders? You had to read the text and in some cases ask in chat? Do you remember why quest finders were added as a standard feature in games? Because of players, not because of evil devs.

    Devs looked at their data and it told them -" hey idiots, 95% of your players have downloaded a third party add-on that directs them to quest objectives." So in the interest of keeping as much of the game secure and updated, devs built quest finders to the game. So now no one talks about quests anymore.

    Same thing happened with gear when players created dps meter add-ons and speadsheets for literally ALL THE GEAR IN THE GAME! You don't even have to play the game to find BIS pieces and know what your ultimate character would be like. So no one talks about gear anymore.

    You don't even have people talking about abilities because you can just hop onto forums and find a 10 page post supported by math showing you why you should be pressing 11315  instead of 12345.

    Players and their endless thirst for knowledge and improvement are the ones who have killed social interaction by systematically removing any given reason someone might have something to talk about. And so chat devolves into "huehue go back to WoW/LoL/D3" or "anal [double strike]" or stupid political nonsense.

    We're all complicit in this. If you've ever used a 3rd party add-on to make your gaming experience more efficient, or studied your class mechanics on a forum, you are part of it. It's not about downtime,it's not about the structure of the game. It's about available topics of discussion. What is left, that we the players, haven't alreayd covered in some detailed online compendium?

     

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