Archive for Community

The Lost Art of Community

Posted in Blogging, Everquest, WoW with tags , , , , , , , , , on 01/12/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

If there’s one thing I can say was EverQuest strongest asset, it was community building. I went into EQ knowing only one other person that played the game, and came out 10 years later with more friends than I can count. It was an odd side effect to playing a game. Before EverQuest I’d only really played Single Player games or played with friend on the same TV screen. Even the people who played things like Unreal Tournament or Half Life/Counter Strike didn’t exactly get to know each other. Yes, I know there are exceptions to that rule, but for the most part that was the case.

EverQuest changed that paradigm of gaming for me and a plethora of others. See, the reason I feel that this was the case with EQ (and UO and DAoC), was that you really needed to have help to advance in the game. There were no handouts, and if you tried to go alone you wouldn’t get very far. The only way to truly level up and strengthen your character was with a group. Because of this you had to get to know your fellow Norrathians. For the longest time, and for the majority of my level, I can name 10-15 people whom I grouped with more than anyone else. These people quickly became my friends, and we ended up joining a guild together. To this day, I still keep in touch with most of them.

This whole feeling of unity and camaraderie is lost on the current generation of gamers. With the onset of World of Warcraft and other modern MMOs, online gaming has become more of a solo experience than it has a group experience. Even the higher end dungeons in games are more of a “Queue up, don’t talk, get your loot, and get out!” The whole “Brothers in Arms” feeling is gone. I really think this type of gameplay is killing the true experience of what a MMOG is supposed to be.

I’m not saying we need to bring back corpse runs, massive XP losses, or mob grinding for leveling. But something really has to be done to bring back the social aspect of these games. The closest things I’ve seen at all lately is one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to Rift. That would be the title aspect of the games, the Rifts. Trion has taken the initiative to create content that encourages teamwork early on in their game. Even so, I don’t know if it’s enough to really bring back that feeling of needing to group. While I hope it does, I think MMO developers need to come up with some sort of system in their games that encourages and rewards players to work together throughout the game, and not just in the raiding portion. Guilds and groups need to matter and feel a sense of accomplishment.

MMO gamers are starting to act more and more antisocial towards each other. It used to be said that games like EQ could help shy teens and young adults really break out of their shell and learn to integrate better into society. I wish I could find a link to the study, but there was one done at one point talking about this exact fact. As time has gone on, and games have become more and more solo friendly (or solo forced?), we are seeing a growth in players who fit into [NSFW] John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F*ckwad Theory.

Gamers already seem to get a bad wrap in the media. The stereotypes are attrocious and the growing asshat-ish attitude isn’t helping. I truly believe this all goes back to the shrinking art of community. Guilds don’t even mean as much today as they used to. It wasn’t abnormal to see guilds of 100+ players in Everquest and even early WoW. In fact, that was an average size guild. Everyone got to know each other as well. In the past few guilds I’ve been in in WoW, players rarely –if ever– communicated in chat. In fact, even most raids didn’t see much chatter. It was more “you better know the strats before you get to the fight or you’re going to be kicked,” and a lot less of “hey guys, let’s strategize and learn this fight!”

It really saddens me to sit back and look at what’s happened to the social aspect of MMOs. I really hope that some day we will at least move back in the right direction, and back to the true meaning of what MMO means. Until that happens, I feel we will continue to see a growing trend of anti-social and anti-teamwork behavior.

Writing on Gaming

Posted in Blogging, MMO, MMORPG with tags , , , , , on 01/10/2011 by Jeremy (Jmo)

Sometimes there’s just so much to write about I don’t know where to begin, or what topic to choose. This is my biggest problem when it comes to blogging. When I first started “Jmo’s Gaming Blog,” writing every day or two was something I didn’t have a lot of trouble doing. As time went on, though, I feel I started reading way too far into the “topics of the day” and really started writing less frequently. This started becoming a real hindrance for me. I love writing and I feel like I let myself down each day when I didn’t post something. As time went on though, I became more numb to the feeling. It took me by surprise after yesterdays post that it had actually been almost a whole year since I had updated my personal blog.

Now, I have been writing at MMOVoices and Vagary.tv, but I really feel like I failed by letting my own blog disappear into the nether. For that, I apologize to those that used to read this site regularly, and to myself for becoming so complacent. I feel that I really did a disservice to myself as a writer by not keeping up on a regular blogging schedule of sorts. I really have to thank Cindy and Gavin for helping set me back in the right direction with this week long “Blogging Bender.” It has really given me the desire to force myself to write on a schedule again, which is something I hope to keep up from this point forward.

It’s odd that I ever really did fall out of practice with how much I enjoy discussing the whole “gaming” world in general. When you think about it, it’s a very interesting and exciting place to be. There’s always something to talk about, and always some new bit of drama hitting the blog-o-sphere. In fact, even on weeks that we as bloggers and podcaster may complain that it’s been “slow on news”, we can always seem to find something to chat about. That’s because our hobby is an ever-changing, ever-evolving one. And no matter where anyone’s views may fall on a certain subject, and even how we may stick away from certain bloggers because of conflicting views, it’s rare that you’ll hear bloggers in our little niche of the internet speak truly ill of each other. It’s one of the few communities that I feel has a mutual respect for each other, even if we don’t always agree.

That’s one of the reasons that I feel MMOVoices actually took off the way it did. When Beau and Leala first started talking about it on Twitter, I was quick to jump aboard. The original plan was for it just to be an experiment in the wake of GAX folding, with maybe 20-30 members max. Now, just under a year and a half old, MMOV is working its way towards 400 members. It sounded like a great idea in the beginning, and it is really refreshing to see how it has grown. This goes back to my original point, and the one thing we all have in common: Gaming.

No matter how we may feel about Free to play, certain studios customer service, or features we’d like to see in the next big MMO, it all comes down to us enjoying a good game. That’s what makes our community stand out above the rest. You don’t find that kind of all around camaraderie in topics like politics or religion. In fact, it’s almost a sad fact that people agree more, or can at least agree to disagree more over such a topic like games, but will kill each other over religion. But this is a blog about gaming, so I won’t even go into my thoughts on that topic. Still, that speaks highly of our hobby.

That’s one of the biggest pulls to keep me writing. The feeling of being important, one of the group, and surrounded by friends at all times is something you can’t find anywhere else. Regardless of what someone may think about how a development studio does business, at the end of the day we’re all gamers. We come from all walks of life, different political and socio-economic backgrounds, but we can all agree on one thing: gaming rocks! Whether we write about gaming on blogs, talk about it on podcasts, or just play the games to have fun or even to escape some of the crappy situations we end up in in our day to day lives, we all embrace the same thing in the end. That is what sets our awesome community apart from all of the crap out there, and is what is my motivation to not only keep writing, but be involved constantly. I hope others feel the same way.