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The Social Hub: The Trinity & How it Shapes Communities

Column By Christina Gonzalez on October 14, 2013

Ever since certain games have tried playing around with the traditional Trinity, certain pros and cons have arisen as a result.  Just what are these pros and cons and what might the potential impact be on MMO communities?  Judging the potential impact, is there anything that could or needs to be done?

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Some of the pros of the Trinity come in having defined roles.  Places are set for players and their appropriate classes and roles they are to play.  This offers structure and tempers the expectations for what a person will have to do as well as what others anticipate that person's actions to be.  In essence, it also creates a sense of stability and a reliable gameplay scheme.  By knowing exactly what is expected of a player, the rigidity of this system can make it easier for people to learn these basic expectations and duties.

However, this has a downside.  The structure may be considered a source of pressure and stress on players to perform their roles with skill and accuracy.  The very expectations that create a reliable environment and a sense of stability may make players feel locked in and obligated.  If your healer cannot keep up with all the damage your team sustains, that healer may feel very stressed with a type of performance anxiety.  This same system of defined roles can also a show its downside in overemphasis in on raw numbers.

It just might be easier to contribute on an individual basis without the rigid structure provided by the Trinity.  There are often more DPS classes than the demand for them, so when it comes to community impact one of the ways is that these players will wait longer for inclusion.  Depending upon the game's popularity, DPS classes may have a much harder time finding an appropriate group, even if using a dungeon finder.  There are also restrictions to play style, team composition, and a time gap that could lead to wasted hours for certain players.

So how does this all affect community, anyway?

Players want choice, but it’s not always clear how much works for each game. Many would say that the Trinity, due to its structure, promotes interdependence and teamwork.  Interdependence and downtime were some ways communities came about in the past.  Today's pace is decidedly faster, with little to no downtime and often a more linear path.  Some gamers also simply prefer to solo the game and having a Trinity system is less compatible with solo play for people who want to play at their own pace.  Having no Trinity system may promote a looser association and make less-defined or hybrid classes possible, but it's not assured that the people attracted to such systems will be too.

Read more on page 2.

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