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When PvP Isn't About the Kill

Tim Eisen Posted:
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I’ve come here today to dispel another myth. The myth that all PVPers chase the kill. That we play to simulate the death of our foe to win and for nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I logged in for three things, a challenge, a fight and a win. I brought death to my enemies while vowing revenge when I fell to their swords. Nothing made me happier than a good battle and I wasn’t picky about the setting. I was an opportunist and I didn’t discriminate, I treated all red names equally - circumstances be damned.

When I set out to fight any avatar on my path was engaged. Numbers, odds, conditions, I didn’t care. I wanted to PVP and more than that I wanted to win those encounters. I was driven by victory. I suppose that’s normal for a young man filled to the eyeballs with testosterone. I still hate to lose and always do everything within my abilities to win, but it’s no longer the arrow in my love for PVP. It can’t be. If it was I’d be miserable!

The greatest PVPer of them all; time has never fought a battle it didn’t win. Motor skill decline is bad enough! Paired with a lack of play time to get well practiced I went from Angel Eyes to Private Hudson! Over my PVP career I’ve played every part of the circle of life. From alpha apex predator to scavenger looking for scraps I’ve had to recalibrate my PVP desires, goals and especially expectations several times. Despite the drastic changes in my position on the Serengeti my love and appreciation for PVP has never wavered. The aspects of PVP that bring me pleasure however, have changed substantially.

In PVP the journey is the reward, the battle is the thrill and the killing blow a bittersweet bonus. Bittersweet because it represents the end of our journey and MMORPGs are always at their best during the journey. In that way, the kill represents the climax and the ping of aimless desolation that follows closely behind it. There in we see why Batman always let’s his enemies escape, without them he has less purpose. His journey ends. Fortunately for us a new villain is rarely far away so we set foot in pursuit of the unknown on battlefields over the horizon. That pursuit is now what drives me.

The journey, the hunt for a fight might not equate to a singular spike of exhilaration but volume of pleasure over time equates to a satisfaction that can outperform besting your foe. Ask yourself how many great PVP stories are about the kill? The battle? Now how many memories have you forged on the journey to that battle? Typing that question hundreds of distant memories that come flooding back. In this I hope I am not alone. A great journey that ends in a loss was still a great journey. Too often we let our obsession with the finish cause us to neglect how we arrived at our destination.

A kill is part of a hunt but, while it’s the preferred outcome, it isn’t the reason to hunt. The same can be said about PVP. The journey. The pursuit. The exploration. Chasing the unknown. The highs of success and the lows of defeat. A sense of accomplish after overcoming that loss. Challenging your soul, your determination. The danger. The consequences. The uncertainty. These are why I PVP and why PVE rarely earns my attention. Outside of scripted raids they rarely do PVE better than a single player game. PVP is what elevated our art. It’s what brings MMORPGs to a level all their own. Lots of games offer a VS mode, a few FPS’s offer large battles but only MMORPGs offer massive battles with complex classes. In the world of gaming there is nothing like the journey of MMORPG PVP.

This is what I’ve come to focus on in my PVP experience. I don’t consider it taking a high road or a superior way to PVP. At this stage of my PVP career its where I get the most satisfaction. Always in motion the future is. In a month, a year, several years this could change. For now, it’s the aspect of PVP that I enjoy the most. The greatest challenge for me right now is finding a game that offers a journey rather than instant PVP gratification.

I don’t expect everyone to agree and I certainly don’t expect everyone to play this way. One of my favorite things about good MMORPG’s is their ability to allow players to play how they prefer. Should you share this perspective? That is entirely up to you. Either way I’d love to hear what drives you to PVP in the comments below.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry