Why I Love MMOs

WoW Hunter Taming Gorilla

One of my favourite screenshots. It also happens to have hearts in it.

Most gamers would agree that it’s a pretty slow time for MMOs at the moment. Everything seems to be getting by on a gentle simmer, tentatively waiting for the next explosion of expansions and new games to come. Without a doubt the next year is going to be an exciting place for MMORPGs with plenty of new stuff coming out to tickle our fancies and churn our butter but right now we’re just waiting with nothing to do but anticipate the future. My MMO time has been pretty relaxed recently as a result but the odd quiet period suits me fine as it gives me time to catch up on other things and rest before the next gaming frenzy enraptures me.

However, even though I’ve not being playing a huge amount of MMOs for the past couple of weeks, I’ve still been thinking about them a lot. Much like a crack addict or a nymphomaniac, I’m hooked and love every minute of it. Still, I think I can be a little harsh or critical about the industry and whilst I make absolutely no apologies about that fact (c’mon, you love it), I thought it was about time that I reaffirm my affection for the genre and tell you all a few reasons why I just love the genre so damn much.

The Awe

Ever since that first moment when I logged into Everquest at the tender age of 17 I was hooked on MMOs. Probably the strongest overwhelming emotion I can recall is the sense of pure awe as I realised I was actually wandering around a gigantic virtual world. I was tiny little avatar in a world inhabited by thousands and thousands of other players, a single cog in a vast machine, and it took my breath away. Unlike single player games where a limited world revolved utterly around me, the MMO landscape was one that involved a massive multitude of players and incorporated them all, each with their own stories, lives and agendas. There was something quite incredible about that to me.

The People

I know I harp on about community a lot but I truly do believe that the inhabitants maketh the MMO. After all, probably the largest defining factor of the genre is the fact that its games played online with others and that’s definitely not something that should be undervalued. I’ve met so many interesting and fascinating people in the MMORPGs I’ve played, have shared some hugely emotional moments with some of them and have even made strong, long lasting friendships with a select few. I wouldn’t get that in any other type of game.

The Dramas

I can count on my middle finger the number of guild dramas that I’ve been actively involved in and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone but, much like an onlooker to a rather gory car crash, I can’t help but become absorbed by the dramas that go on around me, especially when they’re about insignificant and trivial matters. The more petty, the better in fact. I just brew some tea, grab a snack and sit back and enjoy the carnage unfold.

The Technology

Although I’m older and wiser now and we’ve all pretty much accepted that computer scientists and developers can work magic, it wasn’t long ago that the idea of a solely online game was consider quite extreme and crazy. I think we’re quite lucky to be part of a genre that is constantly pushing forward the boundaries of not only gaming but also all of the hardware, software and facilities that support it.

The Gameplay

MMOs aren’t exactly known for their fast paced, heart pumping gameplay but I don’t think that’s the point of them. They aren’t about twitch gameplay but more group gameplay and decision and strategy making as a party or raid with real people. I’ve had some wonderful groups in my time when players have really had to work hard together and fight as a team to overcome odds and, not only does that create a great sense of camaraderie and kinship, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

So there you have it, my unrestrained declaration of love for MMORPGs. Count yourself lucky I didn’t do it as a poem.

-Gordon

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8 Comments

  1. kaozz says:

    Well said. It all combines into something magical.

  2. Nils says:

    I read what your wrote about The Awe and then I thought about the current evolution in MMORPGs that tries to put you into the center again.
    YOU killed the Lich King,
    YOU are the hero.
    YOU are great.

    Time for a change in direction, imho.

    • Gordon says:

      It is very interesting how the attention has focuses from the world to the individual and I can’t decide if that’s for the better or not. I suppose it makes the experience more personal but then it also makes it more solitary.

  3. amcl says:

    I do miss our time together in WoW. That screenshot brought back lots of fab memories!

  4. Syl says:

    I think all of this is summed up nicely with intensity – MMOs really are that, a more intense gaming experience than with other games and on many different levels.
    nice post =)

  5. JeffM says:

    I find myself missing and returning to the MMOs that started it all for me, what I have found is more satisfying game play, not so much because those games were better or worse…but because that all Important community Gordon spoke of is there. So now I’m playing EQ and yes even UO and its just a deeper experience, yeah it’s a ymmv thing but its works well for me.

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