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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

MMORPG Terminology or What do you wash your brain with? - Part 3 of the MMO wars.

Posted by jesad Tuesday August 13 2013 at 2:05AM
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Time for a little PVP.  Maybe not the kind you are used to talking about but as you will soon see, that is just the point.

So I like Pizza.  I grew up on the stuff.  School cafeteria pizza, bowling alley pizza, and of course, pizza from the local pizzeria.  To me there is nothing like a big ole greasy slice of gooey, cheesy, stick to your skin like napalm-like pizzeria pizza, and when it is good like that, I don't even need any other toppings, cheese alone will do.

My wife, who is several years my younger, does not agree.  She likes BBQ Chicken pizza from our local pizza delivery place.  And although I enjoy a good slice of BBQ Chicken pizza from our local delivery place, and I especially enjoy not having to go out of the house in order to get it, I can not for the life of me understand why she can't see the simple superiority in a good old fashioned, hand tossed, gooey, messy, cheesy pie from our local mom and pop pizzeria!

But this is how it is all over the world isn't it?

Corporate entities, along with their efficiency experts, marketing staff, and scientists (yes scientists, not cooks, or writers, or whatever profession it used to be that was creating your stuff) have co-opted your favorite thing, refined it down to its most efficient cost/profit per unit self, and have sold it to people not as familiar with the original product as you under the same name as the thing that you remember as being something completely different.

Case in point, the MMORPG.

There are a ton of strings in the forums every day where people have to argue about things as simple as the meaning of terms.  Does Sandbox mean this or does it mean that?  Were corpse runs cool or did they suck?  Is the Trinity fun or should we abandon it?  Likewise there are just as many scholars on the pro side of the conversation as there are on the con, and all of these people believe that exactly what they are saying is true.

But how can that be?  Isn't there only really one truth?  Can two conflicting ideas be true at the same time?

Well, the answer to this question is yes and no.  (Haha, you like the way I did that?)

To be clearer, in my understanding, two conflicting ideas can, in fact, be true if the two parties in conflict are actually talking about two different things while using the same terms to describe both things.

Ok, real fast, look up the word Metonymy .  To explain this as simply as I can, our lack of use of Metonymy has led us to believing that one MMORPG is, or is supposed to be, the same as another MMORPG when in fact there are a variety of MMORPG models out there and each one is specifically catered to a specific kind of audience within the overall MMORPG community...and those audiences don't even particularly care for one another.

Since the beginning of this blog I have used the characters Newton and Hardcore to illustrate some of the concepts where I personally have felt like an alien within what I considered a room full of like-minded individuals.  In fact, I would honestly say that fair percentage of my entries have been entirely dedicated to that sensation.  I will be the first to admit that I have looked down my nose at Newton and held Hardcore in the higher regard, and I will now apologize for having done so as it has only come to my understanding as of late that these two guys are both entirely viable and acceptable players of MMORPG's provided they are playing in a game that was created with their play-style in mind.

Yes, this is where I admit to the fact that the guys who are actually getting paid to create these games may be just a little bit smarter than the rest of us.  If you can't handle that I understand, but try to keep an open mind anyway hopefully I will be able to explain it all by the end.

You see, Hardcore comes from a different place than Newton.   I have alluded to this before in entries like Kaleina's Theory and others, but I have never really explained the real reason why this difference occurs properly until now.  But going back to the pizza, Hardcore likes pizzeria pizza.  He grew up on a certain kind of everything, a certain kind of role-play, a certain kind of game-play, a certain kind of social interaction, and even a certain kind of entertainment.  So when someone develops a game that Hardcore likes to play, it becomes a certain kind of game.  Is it an MMORPG?  Yes!  By all means!  But is it a run around, race to the end, fashion show of ignored content, very little exploration and zero easter eggs?  Absolutely not!

This is because Hardcore cut his teeth on MMO's that were created by people who were directly trying to port the pen and paper aspects of Role Playing Games over to a video game format.

Hardcore only knows what Hardcore knows, and what he thinks he knows, he likes!

Now Newton, that's a completely different guy.  Going back to the pizza thing, Newton likes delivery pizza.   He grew up on items that were refined and packaged and marketed specifically to his individual tastes and there was little reason to make any kind of adjustment to his gamers pallet in order to enjoy the games that he likes to play.  Sure, Hardcore loves a good ole slice of the bubbly, but he also has to run for the antacids if he goes too deep into that box before taking a break.  Newton though, he can eat the whole pie in one sitting, wash it down with some calorie free simulated pop, and be ready to eat again by dinner time, and that's an excellent thing too because it allows the people who make Newton's pizza and pop to sell him twice as many pizzas and twice as many bottles of pop provided they can come up with enough variations on that original theme to keep him from getting bored.

Now you can't really blame Newton for this.  It's all he knows, just like the old indigestion causing, greasy, cheesy, stuff is all Hardcore knows.  In fact, before Hardcore came along there was probably another guy, we'll call him Codger, who when asked to describe his favorite pizza could only describe something that would seem to the latter two like an open faced grilled cheese, and yet another guy on the way who when asked to describe his version of a pizza will talk about something that comes frozen in a box from the grocery store.

What I'm trying to say here is that it's all pizza, and all we are arguing about is what our favorite brand of brainwashing soap actually is.

So in the name of a more perfect union between MMO players of all shapes and sizes, this is an official call to come up with some specific terms to describe some of the different, but now standard, flavors of MMORPG's.

WoW clone does not count as it is too brazen an outright marketing scheme to have every game that features an accessible rule-set refer back to a specific brand name of game.  If WoW clone were to be acceptable then EQ-Clone would also be acceptable when referring to WoW, and that's just too much and puts us right back into the same place that I have just written all of this to get out of.

In my understanding though, if we don't begin to clarify what these games really are, even if only through the use of Metonymy or Synecdoche, then our arguments, although completely viable from one perspective or another, will continuously fall on deaf ears as the industry (who by the way are probably laughing all the way to the bank) continues to reinvent, and recreate grandma's beloved recipes into subs, sandwiches, and pies with thinner and thinner slices and less and less filling.

It's up to you.


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