Fearing Death In MMOs
I think I’ve started to become complacent. Playing World of Warcraft often makes me feel like an immortal, powerful without limit or restrain. It also makes me feel like I’m surrounded by gamers, playing a game within a gaming community. They are immortals too and it’s no wonder that we don’t share any sort of bond – there is no emotion whatsoever to bind us together, teach us or challenge us.
I suppose I’ve gotten used to the idea that death in MMORPGs now holds absolutely no consequence. I charge into groups blindly, without thought or strategy, simply because I’m looking for that little adrenaline rush. If I die, I don’t care. To say that death in WoW is even an inconvenience is perhaps stretching it. I also experience very little kinship with people I group with and wasn’t until I died for the first time in EVE Online that I realised something: fearing death is a good thing. It’s an emotion and helps spark off other emotions and give us a vested interest in the game.
When I played Everquest I used to bond with almost everyone I played with. We had to because if we didn’t we would likely feel that painful sting of death. The player who ran from gnolls and trained Blackburrow was a coward, the player who sacrificed himself to allow his group to escape was a martyr and the player who pushed his group into the depths of a dungeon was either brave or reckless.
These emotions all stemmed from the fear of consequence. Players had to rely on each other in order to accomplish goals. Tanks had to rely on healers to hold their ground, DPS had to rely on tanks to hold the aggro and everyone had to rely on the Enchanter to stay awake in front of his screen at 2am in the morning.
We’re spoilt now. We have no repercussions to our actions so there’s no need to become a ‘good’ player or bond with your group. Who cares if your comrade dies? Who cares if someone leaves the group in the middle of the dungeon? There’s no risk. And that means there can be no reward.