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Community Forum Spotlight: Why Game?

Community Manager Laura Genender explores the motivations behind MMORPG play in her most recent Community Forum Spotlight.

Why Game?

What do we play MMOs for?  The idea behind gaming is to have fun; most of us do this as a hobby, and why would you take part in a hobby if you didn’t enjoy it?  For forum user Devour, though, the gaming industry has forgotten about fun and only thinks about competition.

“We now play for bragging rights,” claims Devour.  “The average MMO gamer no longer plays for the chance to have fun, they play for the cheese at the end of the road – the tier gear, the nice looking items.  We're seeing the end of gaming being games, something you do for fun and maybe a bit of money. Now, they're a life away from life, a repetitive grind of same tasks repeated for pixels.”

Devour isn’t the only poster who feels this way; a lot of posters agree with him.  User sitheus answers, “It’s mostly because of the game design of raiding and grinding for loot and players accepting it unanimously and will continue as long as it makes a profit. The fun usually stops once your guild turns into loot zombies as fun is replaced with guildies wondering aimlessly around chanting "need to raid, need loot...need to grind, need loot". It’s almost as if they are mind controlled. Scary stuff.”

DrowNoble, a City of X player, adds: “Too many people when they see an MMO want to know (1) what's the level cap (2) what can I kill at said level cap and (3) what uber loots can I get at the level cap.  The old saying of "getting there is half the fun" is, I believe, really true in MMO's.  For me the enjoyment of a game is the journey to the level cap, not the actual achieving max level.  I wouldn't be playing CoX for over 3 years if I didn't enjoy the many story arcs and the 1-49 content.  If a game focuses all its attention on max-level content and ignores everything else I usually move on to another game.”

Poster Godliest, however, finds the grind and reward system fun.  “If the endgame content is done good it can actually be fun!”  I tend to agree with Godliest.  I am a high end raider in my current MMO, and I love it to death.  I can see how people can get worn out with mandatory raid schedules and the like – I can’t even conceive of joining a guild with mandatory schedules.  That being said, when I raid or quest or even grind away in a corner of a dungeon, I feel a sense of accomplishment with each advancement.  And to me, accomplishing things is fun.

And then, there are those who don’t let the endgame race effect them at all.  For poster alakram’s playstyle, none of this is an issue.  “I know most of people do. But not me. In fact I fear the day to reach max cap because I think I may feel like finishing the games. I’m a strange guy, I have played a lot of mmo's and never reached max level because of that. After 2 years playing I’m level 58 in EQ2 now, and I already think: I’m fine for now, with the upcoming expansion I still have 20 levels to do. And yeah, I love the fact that the developers raise the level cap, this means more fun for me.”

Poster Lucifrank tells a similar story, “I agree with you to a certain extent, but I think this tends to be the case with more immature gamers who seek immediate gratification and tend to use their progression in a virtual world as some sort of status or to cultivate some sense of self worth or achievement that may be lacking in RL. Most of my in-game friends, regardless of age, play to relax, adventure, have fun, socialize, and forget about their real world cares for a few hours a night. The people you talk about are certainly out there, but they are by no means the average gamer. It may seem that way in certain guilds or once you hit "endgame" content or begin raiding, and they are the most vocal, but they are not the dominant community out there. It's not unlike these forums. At first look, you'd think that the MMORPG community is full of trolls and flamers without a positive thing to say about anything. On second consideration, you'll realize that they are simply the biggest loudmouths and have some juvenile need to make their presence known. But they are not the majority.”