Why I Play MMOs as Single-Player Games   Leave a comment

I’ll start off with a confession:  I rarely ever group in an MMO, and I can count on both hands the number of times in the past 5 years that I’ve been in an actual raid in an MMO.  I also don’t PVP unless I utterly have to, but that’s a matter for another post.

While I might have a rather large circle of acquaintances and friends who are gamers, for the most part, I don’t game with them. The ones in the industry, I can’t game with due to their companies’ rules about staff gaming with non-staff, and I respect that. The rest, I simply… don’t.  The only game I’m in a guild on that is more than me and/or a small circle of my own friends is WoW, cos I’m in a guild that doesn’t mind if I’m not around a lot, even tho I was made an officer a few years back.  The current GM is a nice lady who doesn’t fire idle guildies or officers.

To some extent, the overall poor behavior of many gamers is one of the main reasons I don’t group in MMOs and instead play them as single-player. Part of this poor behavior is simply folks being jerks, saying crap just to say crap and not really caring how rude they get cos they can get away with it.  Your stereotypical abusive teenager fits in here, but more and more, it’s not the unsupervised 12-year-olds acting like dicks here, the skew in age of many gamers tends to be older these days.

Mostly, the reason I don’t group with others is that I play games to have fun, to relax.  I don’t play them to be the best of the best, or to blaze through content to level cap. In many endgame situations, you have to be so focused on ensuring you’re there for raids, that you keep your toon(s) geared up and to keep up with the Joneses, to whip out an old-school reference there.  Touching briefly on the elitist discourse from earlier, there is a definite slice of gamers that do look down on gamers like me.  There are those who would see my Level 90 Draenei Paladin in WoW and turn their nose up at her, because she’s not wearing all purples and doesn’t have the highest gearscore/iLvl. To me, it’s one thing to see someone at a higher level that you’re striving to emulate or equal, to use it as a goal, but considering the sheer amount of /work/ it takes to get to that point…? I can’t do that.

My favorite bits of all three primary MMOs I like to play are the lore.  The actual /story/ behind where you get from Point A to Point B is far more important to me than ensuring my tankadin has enough gear to survive while I’m trying to hold aggro for anything longer than the Headless Horseman fight at Hallow’s End.

Maybe some of it has to do with not liking to be beholden to anyone (heals or DPS) to ensure the boss gets nuked before I die. Maybe some of it is because I don’t really think I’m all that good at these things.  Anything that’s a simple rotation of button-mashing, I’m down with that… I don’t use macros, I don’t take the time to plan out strategy other than the occasional surfing to Wowhead to look something up if I’m having trouble with a quest.  Part of it is that I like to learn how things work, and in many group situations, unless it’s promoted ahead of time as a teaching circumstance, everyone else expects you to know your character’s abilities to a T and know your rotation and know any particular bossfights in advance.

Dude, when I was a kid mumblemumble years ago, we had that in school, it was called homework.  Nobody but the nerdiest mcnerds actually /liked/ homework.  Maybe it’s cos I’m lazy, maybe I’m just too damned mellow. Maybe it’s that I have a day job and other non-gaming interests and whatever.  I /do/ know there’s a bit of personal low self-esteem and uncertainty as to whether my skills are somehow ‘good enough’ for whatever group I’m in.  Even with the easy and swiftly-completed Headless Horseman instance, I still worry whether I can tank it properly, or whether I’m noticing that the healer is OOM and all of a sudden, we wiped cos I couldn’t keep aggro cos I wasn’t hitting the taunts at the right time when the ‘lock’s pet kept pulling aggro… and then when I apologized to the group after the wipe, they started piling on me, being verbally abusive and ‘worst tank ever’, etc. etc.

So we’re back to behavior.  Dogpile on the player who didn’t do things the ‘right’ way or who messed up, rather than saying ‘okay, let’s try this again, let’s check and make sure you didn’t miss something…’  At least in the WoW setting, unless you’re in the right guild, most players expect everyone around them to be as good as they are, to know every facet of the game as well as they do, to know their roles, to hit their rotations, to not pull a Leeroy Jenkins.  For those of us gamers who already have esteem or social-anxiety issues, this just makes it far, far worse.

In short, I don’t often feel /comfortable/ in a PUG situation, because everyone’s so much more hardcore than I am at it.  They know their stuff so much better, and I don’t want to be the player causing the wipe (again) or being the one who needed on a piece of loot that my toon can’t really use, but everyone else needed anyway (and some of them couldn’t use it either).  I don’t like feeling I let people down when things go south.

So, for the most part, I dodge all of that drama and headache and intense work and keep my fun games fun by simply playing whatever solo content I can find.  All three of my main MMOs are fairly well soloable. I can read up on group-content lore on various sites, so I don’t miss the ‘story mode’ versions of things.  I’m also an altaholic, so I like to play ALL THE THINGS!, and I also like crafting.  Either of those two will take away time anyone else would use to grind out content to get ready for raiding, or the actual raids themselves.

On one hand, it means I’ll never be considered a better-than-average player on any of the MMOs I play (Jane of all trades, mistress of none), and I’ll miss out on the social aspect of things (only one of my plethora of TOR toons even /has/ Social I, much less anything more).  On the other hand, I guess I still have fun playing the game and reading the lore while I’m playing.

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Posted October 22, 2012 by druidsfire in Uncategorized

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