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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: MMOs Less Social?

Posted by MikeB Sunday November 6 2011 at 10:23PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why have MMORPGs become less social? Is it the design or the players? (Poll)" by Creslin321. Creslin321 says:

"Whether you prefer the old school MMORPG style or the new, I think that everyone can agree that newer MMORPGs have made a definitive move towards becoming less social.  Whereas players used to form communities, conduct trade, and group up for PvE; players now compete for quest goals while soloing and rush through dungeons with random people.

So my question is, what is the main factor behind this shift?  Some argue that it's because the "new generation" of players are just not interested in being social and have a "gimme now" mentality.  While others argue that the games themselves necessitate less social behavior due to things like quest-node leveling and dungeon finder.

So what is your opinion on the issue?  Please answer the poll and tell us why you feel that way."

So does the MMORPG.com community agree that MMOs have become less social? Read on to find out!

Dragim has a well thought out assessment of the entire situation:

"I believe it is a little of both.

I hate to, but I will use WoW as an example, as well as Everquest and Dark age of camelot.

In everquest, you had to ask questions to obtain your goals, you had to work together with people to acheive the things you wanted to acheive (generally.)

In dark age of camelot, it was similar.  Player housing provided a new way to interact, as well as the "open dungeons" that you could go into, that were not instanced.

Then came WoW.

It was great at first, people grouped, people talked, there was Open World PvP, that was unstructured, people just did it for...(GASP) the fun of it.

Then...came dungeon finder, cross server PvP, cross server dungeon finder.

You no longer had to make friends, you no longer even had to know anyone.  You could play your single player game without any player interaction what so ever.

Heck even the dungeons are so easy that you don't have to speak 1 word to your group, just go in and go through the motions.

---

Now many other games are copying this type of play because they feel "this is what the players want" and it also is a prevention to when their game fails, because if they already offer cross server grouping, cross server instanced pvp, then they don't have to "introduce it" as a last ditch effort to keep people playing when the game is dieing.

I can see the "good" in allowing cross server grouping, but in my opinion it destroys server unity, it destroys relationships, and it defeats the whole purpose of playing a true MMORPG,

If you want "cross server grouping/pvp"  maybe you should play a game like DIablo, which is designed around that sort of thing.

--

I know it can be scary to actually interact with real people and talk to them, but aren't humans generally social creatures in some form or another?

---

So I guess my closing statement will be that it is the players fault for the MMOs becomming less social, but it is also the developers fault for allowing these people to be so anti-social and basing their games around instance type scenarios instead of Open World type things, such as PvP, Bosses, Dungeons, Or even Live Events...(Live events in EQ were awesome and seemed to happen a lot, the only other game I have heard of live events happening would be Rift, but that was in beta, I do not play Rift in release mode)."

angerbeaver feels MMOs are less socia land this is due (ultimately) to the people playing them:

"I would say the people.

If the majority of people did not want the way the games are designed, then the majority wouldn't play them.

In the above example why would you blame the developpers for catering to the mass of it's customers. Generally speaking that's how business stay open (especially niches).

I personally enjoy not having to sit around looking for a group or rely on guildies for everything. I enjoy the games I play but I don't have time for LFG etc... etc..."

Terranah also agrees, but feels it is due to a combination of both players and design:

"It's a combo of both design and players.  

I think the assumption of game producers and developers is there are a set number of gamers in total and to attract more to this particular genre you need to broaden the appeal, so by incorporating mechanics similar to other genres and platforms they appeal to a wider base in theory.  But console and fps, two genres heavily drawn upon, are not really social beyond...."BOOM, HEADSHOT!!!!". 

Thinking back to my fps days and six to eight hour marathon sessions playing Star Trek Elite Force, the only socializing I had ingame typically was, "GG."  Even when I got on vent or TS and played team deathmatch or capture the flag, conversations were kept to a bare minimum, to plan or describe strategy.

My console days were even more abysmal, even though I had an XBOX360 with headset.  You'd think it would have been a great tool to socialize, but conversations were typically adverserial, crude, racist, sexist and homophobic, so I turned off the feature.

After my fps and console days, I began to yearn for more than pew pew.  I felt a void in my gaming life, and my virtual persona longed to be more than a 2d action figure.  Enter Precu SWG.  I was primed for it right from the start, and SWG did not disappoint.  

Different genres of gaming require different skill sets, and socializing nicely is a particular skill set that is not requisite for success in other genres."

It's definitely true that most MMOs nowadays seem to be a deal less social, but it's hard to say whether it's truly due to development or people not wanting to socialize. The optimist in me wants to say its a result of game design catering to the lowest common denominator (the ADD types) and that there are actually a huge segment of MMO gamers that are likely quite social. The problem is you need a reason for people to be social and it's hard to establish one without bogging down the game. Nowadays, developers add "social hubs" to their games in the hopes that players will you know, socialize, at them. I can't say this really ever works as these areas only tend to offer vendors and auction houses. Sure, it gets a bunch of people in the same place, but most of them are either hawking wares or glued to the auction house interface and ignoring everyone else.

If I think back to games that were highly social, I think of games like Star Wars Galaxies. Why did social hubs work in SWG? Simple. There were reasons to hang around for lengthy bits of time. For example, you'd spend a good 5-10 minutes sometimes acquiring a Mind buff from a dancer in a cantina. Players hanging around would often get into conversations as a result, especially since the players who played Musicians and Dancers were often very social and liked to socialize amongst each other as well as their customers. The flip-side of this is, as I mentioned earlier, it does bog down the game if you need to go hang out anywhere for 5-10 minutes to get buffs in order to go out and quest successfully. That kind of dependence doesn't seem to be around so much anymore.