MMOWTF: Don't Hate the Player...
Weekly Column by Dan Fortier
I find that the real joy in PvP games isn't in simply beating your opponent, but in humiliating them afterwards by dancing, yelling and generally acting like a four year old with too much sugar after you tell him 'No'. There are few things in life as great as zerging a non-combat specialized player with twice as many people and camping their corpse for a several hours afterward just to get them even more upset. Victory over a helpless opponent is all the more sweet when they send you hate mail and threaten to do horrible things if they ever find out where you live in real life.
The idea of being in a pitched battle with a chance of losing doesn't hold any particular interest for me. If I wanted to play a game with forced equality I'd be playing an FPS. Letting silly things like honor and fair play influence your playing style is just a recipe for getting your ass handed to you. Catching enemies unaware, busy or unprepared is the meat and drink of the Art of War and as I see it, being victorious and ignoble is much better then being a noble loser. Morality and courage don't have any place on the battlefield unless they help you win because might make right, especially in MMOs.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not endorsing packet sniffers, duped items or other such implements of blatant cheatery. I'm just out to have fun and if that happens to involve using tactics others find cowardly or unfair then so be it. On small servers you can actually get quite a reputation for this style of play and the constant visits from GM's are always amusing. However, in the great tradition of lowlifes and most celebrities I'm going to blame someone else.
Griefers are just using the tools the developers give them to cause trouble and enjoy themselves at the expense of others. Why else would a designer put a game mechanic that leaves items on your body when you die if they didn't expect players to camp it? Why else would they put guards you can kill in a safe zone if they weren't secretly hoping a big group would barge in and slaughter the civilians? Certain games that don't invite this behavior make it obvious in their design. In Dark Age of Camelot can you run around in Jordhiem killing people? Obviously they decided that having a safe area even in a PvP game was something they wanted. Anyone who knows human nature shouldn't be surprised at anything that happens in an online battleground.
There is no denying that Free-for-All killers are in the minority and games that have tried to exclusively cater to their mind set have either become a victim of their own success or are so buggy or unbalanced that they never developed a huge following. I like the idea of being responsible for your actions and letting players who wish to lead lifestyle of unremitting violence do so at the cost of being wanted. This kind of game mechanic actually enhances the thrill of being a mass murderer while providing some form of justice in the eyes of the victims.
Speaking of victims, there is special relationship between the PKer and Carebear that transcends love and hate. Their rivalry is made all the more intense by the mutual realization that they need each other. If we learned anything from Ultima Online's Felucca exodus, it is that a balance between the two extremes needs to be kept. In a game without some form of PvP combat all you can look forward to is endless grinds and raids against the same predictable AI. While the two styles don't meld well in traditional MMORPG games, the lack of either becomes an obvious detraction after a while. Variety is the spice of life and being able to pick your poison in a well designed game is something that has a universal appeal.
My message is simple, don't hate the player, hate the game. Everyone has had a bit of fun at someone's expense one time or another so what's wrong with some anonymous virtual bullying? If you survived high school you should be able to handle it in an online game. Next time you're in Rivervale, Yew or Tartoken don't forget to watch your back because we'll be there waiting.
I'm finished for now so if there something you want to say, but want to use a fake name, you are in luck...We have forums! Keep it warm until next week.