This might seem like an odd post title for someone who spends 12-20 hours a week playing an MMO plus extra time blogging about playing an MMO. But lately I have been thinking more and more about the downsides of multiplayer games.
I’ve been into video games since I was about 8. Video games have always been an escape, a way to have fun on my own. I’ve never been a social gamer. In high school, while all my friends were playing multi-player Goldeneye, I was wishing they’d all go away so I could play the single player campaign. I have never signed onto Xbox live to play with people online. I can handle about an hour of party games (Rock Band, anything on the Wii) before I start twitching and wishing someone would put on a real game (or play a good old-fashioned board game). When I heard that Bioware was making a new Star Wars MMO my reaction was “Damn them! Why can’t they just make another KoToR?” I’ve had to tell my fiance many, many times that I will never play another MMO – not because I’m a Blizzard fangirl, just because I don’t want to play anymore multiplayer games.
So what is it specifically that bugs me about playing an MMO? People.
- You have to depend on others. The number 1 reason that I play WoW is to raid and although I usually enjoy raiding immensely, it can be quite stressful because you need to count on 9 or 24 other people in order to be successful. There are so many ways that raiding enjoyment can be ruined by other people. First, if 9 or 24 other people don’t show up, you don’t get to raid, and that sucks. Second, people screw up. It happens to everyone. Even if every person in a raid makes only one mistake each, that’s still a lot of screw ups and a lot of aggravation. To say nothing of the people who screw up over and over or generally underperform and drag down the raid. In a nice, single-player console game, you don’t have to worry about this, your success is dependent on you alone.
- Other people depend on you. Everything I wrote above can apply to me as well. If I can’t make a raid or show up late, I feel bad for letting people down. I also make mistakes. If I’m playing Mass Effect and make a bad decision that results in poor Commander Shepard getting riddled with bullets…oh well. Reload and try again, it’s not a big deal (although it may result in some cursing and/or throwing of the Xbox controller). If I make a mistake in a raid, I’m not the only one who is affected. I feel bad and usually end up apologizing. Not fun.
- Reading inane trade chat conversations. I’m usually smart enough to have all trade/general/local defence channels turned off. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for someone to craft me some boots and was forced to turn on trade channel. My god, after being subject to the absolute idiocy that goes on in trade I don’t know whether to be angry or cry over my lost faith in humanity.
- People are both the best and worst part of WoW. I think having a good bunch of guildmates is what keeps people playing this game for as long as they do. But then there are the mean or stupid people you run into in PuGs, the trade chat idiots I mentioned above (who occasionally invade /say), the guildies you don’t really know who never stfu and the ones who seem to take issue with how much (or little) time you spend online.
Blerg. This is a rather negative post, isn’t it? I must be cranky. I have been thinking about this for a while though, and it just strikes me as insane that a video game can make you feel both responsible for other people and dependant on them. How is that fun?