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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

Post GW2 BWE: Realizing I'm Not Really An MMOG Soloer

Posted by Meleagar Tuesday May 1 2012 at 10:25AM
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Playing GW2 made me realize that it isn't grouping, per se, that I dislike in online games; it's really just how grouping as a mechanic has been implemented in most MMOGs, and how that mechanic affects my capacity to enjoy playing with others.  It's not that I actually disliked being around other people - I really enjoyed running around buffing and healing them. What I disliked was being forced by game mechanics to be formally responsible for the success or failure of an entire group, depending upon my character choices, gear and playstyle.

In most MMOS, and in all that I've played, there is a class system that is pretty much defined, and there is a min-max efficiency scale that is pretty much set in stone; you're either good at doing what the game mechanic requires of you, or you are not good at it. If you're not good at it (meaning, ability, character traits/talents, gear), then your group will fail more often, which leads to warranted ostracization. From groups.

Frankly, for  a combination of reasons, I've never been that good at doing anything in particular in these kinds of games.  Primarily, I'm just not interested enough in that aspect of any game to become a professional at any particular role. Secondarily, I just don't have the attention and manual dexterity/twitch skill to be really good at anything in particular when it comes to game mechanics. Also, I don't care to talk/type much, and can't do that and play at the same time anyway. 

So, I don't want to burden others with my lack of game knowledge, my penchant for /afking or having to leave entirely, and absence of role professionalism, or my incapacity to do two things at one time, which means I solo a lot.

In GW2, though, unless I am going into the specific team dungeons, informal groups are the meat and potatoes of the game.  I don't have to formally group up with anyone to do up to raid-style encounters.  I am not held personally responsible for fulfilling any particular role, nor am I judged by any criteria, really, other than staying alive, reviving others, and the metal of my reward at the end.  I cannot be ostracized by those that think I should, as an elementalist, switch to fire instead of using water attunement, or think I should use a rifle instead of a sword as a warrior.

As Unlight said in a thread in the GW2 Beta Event forum here: "...the game has managed to do something that no other game has yet achieved -- it made me happy to see other players."

GW2 has made me realize I'm not reallly a soloer; I've just always chosen to mostly solo because of the consequences of the standard MMOG grouping dynamic and how classes and content were structurally intertwined. What I thought I wanted was a more soloable game; what I really wanted was to be able to enjoy being around other players as I played the game my way, which I didn't really think was possible. The standard MMO dynamic is, to be able to participate and enjoy grouping, you had to conform your playstyle to the standard; in GW2, you don't have to. You don't even have to talk to others, or read anything they write in the chatbox.

So, I guess I'm not really fundamentally a soloer, after all. Maybe I'll have to change the title of this blog. I do like to group, I just don't like being formally responsible for the success of the group, nor do I want to have to force my playstyle into a min-max mold.