Community Spotlight: Solo Content
By: Jon Wood
Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Community Manager Jon Wood. Each week, Wood takes to our message boards and examines a specific topic raised by our community. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.
This week, I wanted to draw attention to this thread in our General Discussion Area, “The Pub”. Our member, Lasastard, posed a very simple question to his fellow players:
"I keep reading posts where people complain that they can't solo their way through MMOs. Now I wonder, what is the motivation for someone to play a MMO, if he or she does not like to group and socialize with other people? Don't offline-RPGs offer a better experience for this kind of playstyle? Maybe someone can enlighten me... "
It’s a fair question. A “massive multiplayer” game has two prerequisites. It must be big, and it has to have multiple players. So, there really is an apparent logic-gap when someone tells you that they will not play an MMORPG if they can not solo their way through the game’s content.
Some of our other members though, have a different take on the answer:
“One of the reasons is because sometimes, a casual gamer,” says CeLL1978, “that can invest a limited amount of time per day for a game, needs that precious hour or two that was lost when forming a group.”
The point in this case, is one that some hardcore players have trouble understanding. Yes, there are indeed people out there who enjoy the world of MMOs, but simply do not have time to dedicate more than a few hours a week to the game. Soloing allows these players to maximize the amount of time that they spend actually playing through the game’s content, rather than waiting in a common area looking for a group.
The problem with this explanation though, is that it still doesn’t really answer the question “Why play an MMORPG if you don’t like to or don’t have time to group?”
“MMOs are not about grouping.” Explains kaibigan34, “Not about PVP. And not about PVE. MMOs are about socializing. There is more to socializing then grouping. Anyone who thinks grouping must be dominate in MMOs only sees one small part of what an MMO is supposed to be. To bad even developers cant see past this.”
Many others seem to agree with this point. Grouping, while possibly the most obvious form of social contact that can happen in MMORPGs is far from the only form.
“As said, socializing does NOT equal grouping,” responds Effect, expanding on the idea. “it never did to be honest. That's simply the focus many developers and as a result some players have taken. Soloing does not stop one from trading with other players, from talking in server chats or in guilds, from conversing with other players in towns, giving or receiving advice. Grouping is only one way of interacting with other players. Massively Multiplayer does not mean group based game.”
For me, as a solo player myself, I can say that there are a number of different reasons as to why I prefer to take an MMO on by myself than to try to find a group. When I am playing an MMORPG, I’m playing to be around other people. I don’t necessarily need to be interacting directly with them at any given moment, but I do enjoy knowing that they’re there. That’s a feeling that I can’t replicate in a single-player game.
I’m not saying that I never group. Often, if my friends are online, I group. Still though, I’m not the kind of person that enjoys trying to find a random group of people to join up with in-game. I’ve tried that and more often than not, it’s been a miserable experience because it’s totally unpredictable what kind of people you will find in those random groups. Often, I found that I would be either ignored or put-down because my gear wasn’t up to spec, or because my tactics weren’t as leet as they should be. I ask you, who wants that? No, let me kick back, and enjoy being in a world populated by other people in ways other than grouping. Ways that let me be a loner, but still maximize my social interaction.
“There is a difference”, says gestalt11, “between being an individualist and be completely alone.”