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In My Understanding

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

Author: jesad

A Single Thought

Posted by jesad Thursday February 20 2014 at 2:27AM
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I'd like to tell you all a story.

It is a story about how I once witnessed a war of the minds on the ethereal plane and how a seemingly apprentice wizard, with none of the training and expertise of all the other wizards, brought an entire guild of highly trained sorcerers to their knees with but a single thought.

Rewind history back to the 90's.  Several sorcerers guilds....we will call them "companies" were busy at work trying to develop what they considered would be the first virtual realities.  Yes they were going to make three dimensional worlds in which people could live and where they could do all kinds of incredible things that they would never be able to do in real life.

Many of these companies were staffed with wizards......we will call them "developers" who were not only self-taught in the mystical ways of creating worlds but classically taught in the very language of the magic that it took to do so.....we will call that magic "programming" and those magicians "programmers".

And so they set forth in creating these worlds.  The theme they would use would be based on that of a several lore masters of old.  The worlds that they would create, a world of wizards and warriors, a world of dungeons and dragons, a world of superheroes and villains, and a world of spaceships and planets, would transport those that visited them......we will call them "players" into places so vivid, so life-like, and so realistic that the hope was that one would simply forget that the real world existed and become completely engrossed......we will call that "immersed" into them.

For a while it even worked too.  Players would visit....we will refer to that as "logging in" to these worlds and they would stay inside of them for hours upon hours, days upon days.  They would develop alter egos with whom they would role-play, and think up all manner of scenario for why they were where they were and were doing what they were doing.  And the sorcerers were happy.

This is because they had also attached a mystical payment scheme to their worlds that magically sucked gold out of players accounts on a monthly basis.  We will call this "a subscription."

Then one day a different kind of player came along.  A wizard in their own right.  Not classically trained, not even self trained, but with a the simply power of being able to see through illusions.....which we will refer to as "critical thinking."

Now I don't know what motivated this young player/wizard.  Maybe it was poverty, maybe it was illness.  No one will ever know.  All I know is that with one simple question this wizard managed to topple all of the worlds, not only one at a time, but all at once.

The question that this wizard asked was quite simple in fact, but it had been a question that none of the sorcerers of the sorcerers guild had ever entertained, not expected anyone to ask.  That question being...."Why fight the harder beasts now when we can get just as much progression out of fighting the easier ones now and come back and fight the harder ones later?"

And BOOM!!!  The sound heard all the way through the realms.  Suddenly the players were no longer immersed.  Suddenly what had seemed like massive, involving, deeply intricate realms suddenly turned into simple pipelines to be navigated towards a sudden stop until more pipeline was added.

But ho! The young wizard didn't just stop there.  Also was invented what we will call "the build" which was a template of what items and gear one should wear in order to navigate even the pipeline faster.

Suddenly, what had been a virtual universe, had been reduced to only a few, simple, pipelines that one could navigate fairly quickly and at half the price.

And the wizard was happy.

But the people lamented.

"MMORPG's are dead!" They said.  "Something is missing!!!"  All the while never stopping to think that perhaps it was that single thought that did them in.

They blamed the developers.  They blamed each other.  They even blamed the president.  Still never thinking, "maybe it's me" while crying out for "the good old days" back when they really thought of their virtual worlds as "virtual Worlds."

It is a very, very, sad story indeed.  And worse yet because it is true.

But I believe that there is a way back to the place, if not the time, where we had so much fun inside the walls of these games.  Back to the immersion of yesteryear. 

For as easy as it is to think a single thought, it is also that easy to UN-think it. 

I say simply do not do that.  Do not powerlevel through the game.  Do not go seeking the "best build" for your character.  In fact I will go out on a limb and say not to do any research on your character at ALL!!  Simply build it and play it and let the world turn you into whatever it is you will ultimately become.

It is our only hope.

The paradigm shift must come where we realize that most things that save us time in MMORPG's, ultimately detract from our enjoyment of MMORPG's.

Simple things like Zone chat and using it to LFG instead of having to stand in an area, like a tavern, and find that person or persons to go out adventure with, are game breaking concepts that we, as a community, have participated in for so long that we don't even realize what we've lost.

The sorcerers of the guild have no idea how to fix this thing.  We have to help them.  But only if we really understand that in doing so we are providing them with a means at our coffers.

We have to be careful then, and not help those that will not appreciate what we are doing.

Play well, live well, be happy, but only within a realm.....we will refer to that as "a product" that you believe deserves your time and money.

If we can think a thought we can just as easily UN-think it.  This is my understanding.

Let's see if we can try to give this story a happy ending.  For both the sorcerers, and you.

See you in the games.


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