In this week's Community Spotlight, we're focusing on the thread, "Socializing getting the shaft, from us the players?" by Dewm. In the thread, Dewm hits on a recent trend of discussions on the state of socialization on MMOs. Dewm feels socialization is on the decline in MMOs and pins the cause on the pace of contemporary MMOs:
So this thread is kinda in conjunction with the other socializing thread on the board here. But I didn't feel it was on toppic enough to post there.
But in the discusion people were talking about whether grouping is the same as socializing, which quickly turned into a thread about why you like or dislike chatting in groups and what not..
... my view/question would be:
Is chatting and socializing getting the shaft because games are quicker these days. Here is what I mean, it used to be in the old days, it would take 10minutes-1hour to get a group togeather and in this meantime you would be sitting in a partial group chatting it up, and then you would go to said zone and start killing mobs, now the attacks were slow enough you could quickly get out some chat in the meantime "Mob behind you", "don't pull the rabbit" "buff please" etc etc... and then the whole group would have a 20 second cooldown before the next pull/attack.. Lots of time for chat.
But nowdays everything is so fast paced, you join a random group, 1-2minutes.. you get auto transported to the begenning on the dungeon, you zone in...start kiling stuff and all of the skills happen so fast and have fast enough of a cooldown that not many people chat and there is no communications, which not only leads to less socializing but also less communications leads to more mistakes = more disasters.. frustration etc..
so I guess I'm wondering what your opinion is.
Is Dewm correct in his assessment? Read on to find out what the community has to say!
Aerowyn certainly agrees:
I agree with the OP ...fast pace of games definitely attributes to the feeling of lack of socialization for some people.. like the OP said back in the old MMO days you generally had time to talk during fights and the pace of everything was much slower in many games. Nowadays I don't see this type of game really getting mass appeal anymore as obviously the more "action based" combat systems seem to be taking more center stage... but think of it like CS or CoD.. all very team oriented online games that require teamwork and coordination to do well yet no one types anything because to be productive you NEED to really be on voice chat.. voice chat is much much bigger nowadays than it was in the past and this as well can attribute to some people feeling games as being less social.
evolver1972 sees what Dewm is seeing, but has a number of different theories as to why things are the way they are these days:
Mama told me never to talk to strangers. I think that's a big aspect of the anti social behavior in many games today. It used to be that only a certain type of person (usually geeky teenaged males - no offense, just telling it like it was!) tended to play MMOs, or even RPGs in general. So, most everyone had a common passion that came out quickly in most interactions in the game playing. That common ground was a natural ice-breaker for many people, so it was easy to build a fairly tight-knit community especially within a guild setting.
Then comes WoW. If nothing else, it put MMOs into the mainstream. But now that means that many people no longer have that common ground at first. The new people to MMO gaming didn't have that passion for RPGs and MMOs, they had a curiosity about a game and then maybe developed a passion for that particular game. Some of those people have branched out to other games and may be a little more social than the freshest MMO noob, but are still not as social as the old school players.
Fast forward to today, and most people are living fast paced lives, so they don't have much time to devote to slowing down and talking to people. They also have a heightened sense of security which brings them right back to the "don't talk to strangers". I think many people shy away from talking to others online, even in a game, because they just don't know, and hence don't trust, the person on the other computer.
Khaeros is perfectly happy with the current MMO climate:
As a guild leader, I prefer the current MMO climate.
Back in the so-called "good old days", people were forced to socialize in order to progress. To some people on here, being forced to socialize sounds like a good idea, but let's take it apart a bit more.
If players are forced to socialize, then the people who don't want to socialize have to look for a guild. When they decide to join my guild (which is based around social events, hosting world events for all gameplay types, and generally being a respectful force that strives to leave the community better than it was), they fill up my guild roster and don't show up to all the stuff we focus on - except the events that reward them with the loot they need to go forward. I do not want this kind of player in my guild.
These days, if players want socialization, they are forced to seek it out themselves. Therefore, almost everyone who applies to my guild is genuinely interested in socializing and being a positive force in the community. Because the people who are solely in it for the loot have other options, I now have no doubt that anyone who expresses interest in my guild has the 'right' reasons for doing so.
The only people who can't find socialization in the current MMO landscape are people who are plain bad at socializing. This is exactly how it should be, and my guild has prospered because of it.
If you want to play socially, find guilds like mine. Hit up the forums. Get involved with the people who act as caretakers for the server you are on, like the people who often get their posts stickied. Join user chat channels and actually talk to people instead of whining on MMORPG.com about it. Don't be awkward.If you can't find social players, then there's something wrong with your approach
I am seeing a lot of what Dewm is seeing, as well. I do think a lot of it does have to do with the pacing of MMOs these days, but at the same time, I don't necessarily want to go back to where MMOs forced socialization down your throat.
All my favorite MMO memories are social ones, especially those in Star Wars Galaxies, but if I take off my rose-tinted glasses for a moment, I really only had time to do most of that socialization due to SWG's pacing. There was a lot of prep involved in adventuring in Star Wars Galaxies and it was that pacing that encouraged players to talk to each other. Sitting around in a camp buffing before taking on Ft. Tusken, getting entertainer buffs at a nearby cantina, these all took long enough that you'd be inclined to talk to other people in the vicinity. I enjoyed all of that socialization quite a bit and I've made friends that I game with to this day as a result of it, but would I want to play an MMO today that was slow enough in pace to encourage the same levels of socialization? I'm not too sure.
I have a full-time job now and my own social circle on voice chat that it's become a bit less important. I think this is probably true for a lot of us and that combined with the current breakneck pacing of most MMOs is likely the culprit for the lack of traditional socialization.
I feel many developers have recognized this over the years and that's why instead of trying to go back to the way things are, MMOs have evolved to make playing with others seamless and accessible. Implicit grouping via Public Quests, RIFTs, or dynamic events seems to be where the trend is heading and it's this sort of content design that encourages players to get together and play, even if most of these relationships are transient in nature. I guess you could say that these designs further enable the current trend of things, but I don't think going back to the designs of old would even work today. Players just wouldn't play those games. I know many of us here at MMORPG.com might, but looking at the broader market, I don't think an MMO with the pacing of say, SWG, would really work in today's MMO landscape.
MMOs still offer the potential for a great deal of socialization, but as Khaeros said, it's more up to us to seek that out specifically if we want it.
What do you think of the state of MMO socialization? And why are things the way they are? Let us know in the comments below!