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MMORPG's: Their Purpose?

Posted by JK-Kanosi Friday February 13 2009 at 12:13AM
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I've played MMORPG's since 2002 beginning with DAoC. The pride I felt for my realm gave me the purpose to defend it. Nowadays I find myself in other games asking myself, "why am I here?"

What's the purpose of the game you're playing right now? Now the thoughtless answer without any self analyzation would be, "I play it, because it's fun." But WHY it it fun? I wonder how much your MMORPG of choice will hold up once you put it to the WHY test.

Now, we need to assume that MMORPG's do serve some purpose, otherwise we can just WHY ourselves right out of the genre and even out of our own existence. But let's assume the purpose of MMORPG's is to offer us a measure of gameplay that we cannot find in any other genre. This measure of gameplay, what makes MMORPG's unique, is the purpose and what MMORPG players find fun. Any other feature, while nice, can be found in another genre in a better form. For example, quests is a feature that single player games have excelled at for decades now, because the single player environment can change as the player completes quests to add depth (ie. Oblivion). Now, quests in MMORPG's serve purely as a method of granting xp, coin, and loot so you can advance in level to rinse and repeat the process again. The quests serve no real purpose in the game. Completing them changes nothing, so while it's a nice feature, it isn't genre defining enough to be THE feature that attracts people. So what is it then?

Well, my theory, and it's not a new theory, is that the unique feature that the MMORPG genre offers is the ability to live a life you cannot live in the real world for any number of reasons, that you can in the virtual world. The more you take out of the virtual world, the less believable the world is and the more of a game the world feels like, which starts to beg the question: "Can I find better in another genre?"

So we're back to our first question: Why do you play the game you do? Does anything serve a real purpose in your game, or is it a big waste of time, even for game standards?

I just unsubbed from WoW after beating 25man Naxx to death for the umpteenth time and starting asking myself WHY. I thought about alternative games, and asked myself WHY again. The truth is that any game that does offer a true purpose is on life support and any game that MIGHT offer a purpose is yet to come.

fansede writes:

 It sounds like you are taking a look at yourself after grinding another instance. This is one of the biggest complaints of MMO veterans. Every game seems the same treadmill formula. "level up" or gain skills to qualify for the greater challenge (usually a raid). All because you want the vaunted prize of rare loot ( which often  you dont get after multiple attempts because it is a lottery).

What is the reason you started DAOC or WoW and didn't quit after a week?

That is the real reason why you enjoy MMOs. It may be the reason why you follow the genre and contribute to these forums and blogs.

Fri Feb 13 2009 7:21AM Report
MadnessRealm writes:

I feel that someone would need to look for Sandbox MMORPGs. In sandbox it's not a linear story but a player based story, meaning that no servers will be the same. This is a completly different feeling which you might enjoy if you can't stand Linear MMORPG anymore.

Sandbox rarely offers grinding as a solution but "skill levels" where you are allowed to pretty much do what you want and level your skills when you feel like it. I'd give a few sandbox games a try and see if you like the genre.

Fri Feb 13 2009 7:38AM Report
Quizzical writes:

Sometimes "sandbox" merely means that instead of grinding levels in one thing, you have to grind levels in a bunch of different things.  That's more grinding, not less.

No, not every game has the same treadmill formula.  Guild Wars, for example, does not.  It does ask you to beat every mission in a campaign once to get access to the rest of the campaign, I guess.  As for side quests, you can take them or leave them.  With a handful of exceptions, they don't make you stronger.  After beating a campaign, you can switch to hard mode and selectively choose to do whatever you want, as many or as few times as you want (zero times if you like), in whatever order you want.  Since it doesn't make you stronger, you won't be underpowered for what you do first and overpowered for what you do last.

Some players are bothered by the lack of a treadmill, and denounce the game on those grounds.  For such players with more free time than skill, there are games where whoever plays the longest wins.  But if the treadmill bothers you, then play a game without it.

Fri Feb 13 2009 12:04PM Report
Fr0z1nDuDe writes:

 We play MMOrpgs BECAUSE real life SUX and fantasy life PWNZ

Fri Feb 13 2009 12:44PM Report
daltanious writes:

Well ... i love pizza ... and I do not see any reason on the world to ask myself why i like it or being bothered by this. I like it. That is enough for me.

Sat Feb 14 2009 5:20AM Report
Dibdabs writes:

If you feel you need to put a game to the WHY test, you stopped having fun months ago.

Sat Feb 14 2009 7:50AM Report
brad142 writes:

Well I personally have also quit WoW recently due to the "Treadmill" formula, I know thats basically all mmorpg's, but any other WoW player can back me up on this too, WoW is an exception to any other mmorpg I have ever played. The raiding is a constant thing every weekend, and if you dont raid one weekend without giving notice you are usually out of the raid group. Example: I had a wedding to go to and forgot to tell my guild leader, that was saturday night 25 man naxx, next night I logged on to find a rather abusive mail waiting for me from my guild leader saying all about how they had to pug a tank. It was then I relised that WoW is definitely not for me (after 3 yrs of playing). WoW is for any1 FULLY dedicated to getting the best gear possible, if youre in a raiding guildd that is, I suppose that I could have just left the guild and gone on making my potions and playing the AH... but WoW was sucking the life out of me, I put off real life just to make sure I got in the raid. I no longer play mmorpg's, instead I blow people to pieces on mmofps's. I can in all honesty say that I don't think I can ever go back mmorpgs, they serve no purpose and once you reach endgame its nothing but grinding, I suppose this is the reason to play them but its not for me. The WHY factor shouldnt come into play, if it does then you DO need to find another genre.

Mon Feb 16 2009 12:27PM Report writes:
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