That's right, I'm coming clean.
I don't play these games in most ways that would be considered "playing." I have realized that this is the main reason I find myself in forum fights, blog comment wars and email tickle-fests (that last one is fun, though) about once a week. I don't really get someone that doesn't play like I do, and they don't get me.
I don't log in and do really anything "normal"...I am a weirdo. I like to do things like:
1) ...sing and dance along with a pre-scripted band event. "Live?" No. Fun as Hell? Yes. If I didn't have to walk the doggies, I would have sang and danced all night. I was dancing in my chair and Leala was dancing while she played WoW.
2) ...do not repeat content much. Once I run a quest, I don't enjoy running it too many times more. Like, maybe once more, depending. While I am enjoying Vanguard again, repeating quests is no fun. This is perhaps why I would make the worst raider, ever. In most raids, they don't role-play through the content but rather they BURN through the content as fast as possible. The goal is to get to the end, period. If I had to not only repeat content every night but repeat it in 5th gear, it would drive me mad .
3) ...role-play, but even that is done in a weird way: I don't like standing around talking about my loss of memory. I don't want to spend all night in a tavern talking about tragedy. I want my characters to be relatively happy normal individuals that happen to be existing in strange circumstances. I want my characters to be me, not a prince or a pervert or someone with a 75 page bio. Role-play seems to be an exercise in drama most of the time, and frankly I don't want to be that dramatic. I want to get on with the business of the everyday lives of my characters, and don't want to spend that much time talking about it.
4) ....explore, get into trouble, meet people: You know, those things that you might do if suddenly you were magically transported into a magical realm where you could shoot fireballs out of your butt and could AVOID DEATH. The last thing I would do is the same thing, over and over. I would be like a kid in a candy store, but on speed. Hell, in real life I explore and have fun as long as it is safe and...you know, fun.
I admit it, I rarely follow along with what the game tells you to do. But isn't that the beauty of most MMO's? It comes from the ability to do what you want, and even within certain tight boundaries you still have a lot of freedom!
To me, a good MMO tries to act like a real world, a "second life." That would explain the popularity of crafting, shopping, exploring and all those activities that you would do in real life if you had the chance and could not die. I love the fact that many of these games are indeed a miniature society, but I wonder how many players stop to meet other players, go to events or try to participate in the game as though it IS a society? I think most players will participate in an event, but soon after they will go right back to locking themselves away in a dungeon or a guild hall.
But, all those "normal" activities have merit too. I just like to balance most of them with doing anything I can think of, and pushing the boundaries of what you can do in a game. It's not daring or cool, but it is fun.
So, there ya go. I am not a player. I do not really play anything, but just stumble my way through all of them. I might find myself in the middle of an adventure, then turn around to meet some new people to attend a dance with, then I go off to practice mining, only to take a ride on a ship.
I can't help it, something about many of these games just brings out the wide eyed wonder in me.