Do MMOers Dislike Being Social?
I remember the first time I ever logged into a MMO. It was 1999, the game was EverQuest and I was on a 64kb dial-up modem connected via a, get this, pay-by-the-minute ISP (cue accidental £300 phone bill). What seems old hat now seemed incredible to me then and I still recall the first few moments of stepping into Norrath and the surge of excitement I felt at bumping into my first ever MMO player. I’ll never forget jumping up out of my seat and shouting over to brother that a completely random person, a fellow Erudite in the starting city of Erudin, had said ‘hi’ to me.
Ever since then I’ve been hooked on the social aspect of MMOs, not because I’m a lonely chatterbox who seeks constant communication but because seeing, interacting and playing with other people from all over the globe makes me feel like I’m partaking in a virtual world… and not just sitting in front of my computer at home in my underwear (my selection of clothes varies). Personally, I find that MMOs make all other offline single-player games just feel lonely and deserted and there’s nothing more precious than the social aspect they bring.
So colour me surprised when I read some of the backlash against the new Cross Realm Zone feature Blizzard has been implementing in WoW. Surely, being able to play in zones that are actually, y’know, populated, is a good thing, right? Apparently a lot of people disagree and prefer their MMOs as barren and devoid of human interaction as Skyrim or any other offline RPG. Technical issues aside, I just don’t get it.
WoW Insider even recently ran a poll asking if people would opt out of the CRZ feature if they could to which a large 60% responded that they would. Indeed, it seems like the majority of WoW players dislike the notion of having to share their questing experience with others or, heaven forbid, actually encounter another living soul on their PvP server. I’m sympathetic to ganking issues, of course, but as someone who’s played a lot on PvP servers in the past, isn’t random combat the entire point of them?
I don’t want to sound to critical about those who are against the CRZ feature but I do wonder if we, MMOers and WoW players in particular, have become so accustomed to our Dungeon Finders and Battleground queues and Raid Finders that we’ve forgotten that the whole point of these games is to mingle with others. I mean, isn’t there something wrong if we’re starting to treat other players as obstacles in our path to progression rather than as opportunities for friendship and camaraderie? Are so we used to instant gratification that we’ve come to ironically dislike the entire social point of MMOs? I’d like to think not and, to me, the CRZ feature in WoW is a technological step in the right direction for making our MMO worlds bigger, better and more social.
Plus, y’know, Blizzard has already foreseen the issues surrounding competitive questing and implemented an ingenious feature called ‘grouping’, a facility that allows two or more players to form a party and complete the same quest together in half the time. Of course, such facility does usually require some form of communication, guttural grunting or otherwise.
Perish the thought.