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Community Spotlight: Speed Leveling

Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at what is being said on our forums about feeling pressure to level quickly in MMOs.

Speed Leveling

This week on our forums, poster Tutu2 brought up an interesting twist to peer pressure in his thread "Do you constantly feel pressured to level fast in MMOs?"

Tutu2, an EQ2 player, poses his problem to forum-goers: "In all MMOs I've played I've felt this constant need to level up as fast as possible." Tutu2 continues, "I just feel this need to be leveling quickly in order to keep up with guildmates, and get the latest and greatest abilities for my class." He closes by asking, "Anyone else have a similar prob? Or don't see it as a prob, and its just the way these games are made?"

"I used to feel the same way but for a different reason: always wanting to level fast because my subscription is nearing the end of its cycle," Answers seabass2003. "Do I want to keep playing this game or go somewhere else?" Poster Kjemper also agrees, "Every other MMO I've played...I have felt the same way. It was bad enough in WoW when I got it at release that I did everything I could to hit 60 before my winter break ended and I had to resume college courses. By doing so I was unintentionally the first 60 on my server by a week and a half."

In fact, most users on the forum agree with Tutu2; only a few posters, such as Ammon777, don't feel that peer pressure. "I do not allow myself to be pressured by anyone," he says. "I take my time in MMOs because 1) I have plenty of time, and 2) I stay around an MMO usually for a very long time. I also believe that I would miss out on the fun content of an MMO if I rush myself. I actually read quest text."

For me, this is an extremely interesting question, and not one I am sure I know how to answer. I am a hardcore and competitive gamer, but in my recent travels in LOTRO and Vanguard, I've felt little push to level up besides exploring content - maybe because of my lack of guild. In EverQuest, I feel compelled to stay matched in level with my core group of friends, but I don't race to beat or match other guildies and strangers. My gaming rush has slowed down, the last few years, as I stopped just "grinding" and started examining the world around me, the systems and the quests and the lore. Perhaps, like Ammon777, I've beaten the rush.

Sharlochar suggests another cause for the rushing mindset: raiding. "If you focus on raiding and you need to advance somehow with your guild, you should adjust your level speed to this of your guild mates to be as effective as possible. But some games are really not made for raiding and can be played in a more relaxed fashion."

I agree with Sharlochar that raiding plays a large part in making people feel rushed, and I've seen the results: raiders spending all their time leveling and experiencing very little of the rest of the game, or even, buying power leveling services or pre-leveled characters to jump right into the raiding action.

This, to me, is the most foreign concept of this conversation. As user DrowNoble points out, "If you go too fast you miss the scenery." But if you pay for a character, or for someone else to level your character, what is the point of the game at all? You miss key growth points in your character's life, and end up a worse player for your lack of experience, hurting yourself and your guildmates when it comes to raid time.

MMOs offer two complexities to single character progression: competition and cooperation. Players are often competing against each other, whether just for the "high score", in PvP, for contested raid targets - you name it, and they set us against each other for it. But at the same time, many PvP scenarios, raid scenarios, and high end quests require cooperation among large numbers - we are required, by MMOs, to find someone who levels at our same pace.

Some solutions to this have been implemented: mentoring in EQ2, sidekicks in City of Heroes/Villains - but these are group solutions, not raid solutions. What would be a raid solution, and would we, as gamers, even want it?