Why We Play

Posted: October 26, 2007 by Xeavn in General Game Concepts, Out of Character
Tags: , ,

I read an article over at the Daedalus Project the other day titled Player Life-Cycle. It was an interesting article looking at how players play throughout the time they spend in an MMO, and it got me thinking about why I play MMO’s, and what keeps me coming back night after night.

At the moment I find myself at the “Mastery” stage for Everquest 2 as it was defined in the article. I think this could probably be just as easily defined as the end game. It is the point where I would turn the game off and play something new if it was a single player game. I have reached max level, and I have all of my achievement points. I do raid on a regular schedule, and I enjoy the challenge that raiding brings, but it isn’t what keeps me playing.

So what does bring me back night after night? It is the people. The people in my guild, and the friends that I have made there. To a lesser extent the people that I run into on occasion in random groups. It is the human element that continues to make the game fun for me. Camaraderie and friendships have formed from fighting together in raids and in dungeons, and from helping each other with this quest or that one.

Is “friend” really the right word, and how well do I know the people I am playing with? The concept seems almost weird to my offline friends. How well could I know someone who I have never even meet in person? Well it depends on the player, and how much they share about themselves. Often I hear stories of their work, about their families, or what else they did over the weekend. At the same time I know how well the fighters I play with tank, how good the other healers in my guild are, and how well the scouts and mages are at doing damage, not pulling hate, and any special abilities their class might have. I see my friends who are still in town after college a couple of times a month, and I still think of them as friends. I see my guild mates 3 to 5 times a week. During the time I spend playing, I am working together with my guild mates, as well as just spending time hanging out with them. How could I not think of them as friends?

I am not going to pretend that playing with others is all flowers and no thorns. It brings with it moments of frustration as well. All of the sudden the success in the dungeon or raid isn’t dependent on how well I do, so much as it is how well we all do, and how well we work together. There are times when working with a guild mate or a pick up group where you wish you could step in and do their task for them. Nowhere is this more evident than raids, when you often need all 24 players doing their assigned tasks correctly to achieve victory. It also isn’t uncommon for certain players to just not get along with other players. Some personalities in a guild will just clash. Any guild leader can likely tell you all sorts of stories, probably ranging from small fights and misunderstandings to large scale feuds involving multiply members.

So in the long run, what does this really mean for me? It means that I am far more likely to keep playing Everquest 2, so long as the my guild mates and friends are playing Everquest 2. So long as Sony doesn’t make changes that drive players from the game, and I can still log on each night and have something to do, or friends to help, then chances are I will keep returning. If however, everyone just slowly stopped play, it wouldn’t be long before I stopped too. If my guild packed up and all moved to World of Warcraft, or some future game like Everquest 3 chances are I would follow. It also means my chances of quitting MMO’s altogether is nearly nonexistent. I would much rather take down a new raid target, playing a small part as needed, among players I consider friends than beat the latest awesome single player game, alone without anyone watching. Sure I will still buy them, and enjoy them, but I will be more selective about the ones I play, looking for the most enjoyable, and always eventually returning to MMO’s, or at least the latest group game to play among and with friends.

  1. You might want to fix that link. 😉

  2. Xeavn says:

    Okay, fixed. Thanks for letting me know it was broken. Not sure why it displayed like that, but I am still trying to get used to setting up the articles in WordPress.

  3. Aspendawn says:

    I was thinking about this very thing just yesterday, but more along the lines of what makes me go back to certain games rather than others. And while gameplay is a big part of the equation, equally important are the people/community. All my best memories in MMO’s are not the things I did on my own, but the interactions with others.

    EQ2 has one of the best communities I’ve come across. Chance meetings with people are always enjoyable, lots of helpful folks, and general chat is usually fairly pleasant. And it is what has me staying in certain games longer than others.

  4. Anthony says:

    Yo. Tried the email and it didn’t work.

  5. Xeavn says:

    Which E-mail are you talking about?

  6. Illuminator says:

    What burns out me and my friends in this game is consistent: Raiding. I haven’t heard common stories about crafters and grouping players getting burned out.

    The casual recovery period in EQ2 has limited potential because disproportionate content resources are funneled into pleasing the minority that raids. When you see the gear that drops from working a nightly unpaid job, you feel almost disrespected when you see what little awaits you at the more independent styles of gameplay. If you have a real life worth living outside of the game, you have to and you will approach this reality one way or another.

    It’s all or nothing, if not the reality then the perception, and it’s the perception that matters.

    Right now I am only here for my friends, and I can’t wait for them to quit because then I can race out of Dodge. My forum participation has left me fatigued for having to fight for every crumb of design competence when certain things about RPG’s should just be universally known. That’s my opinion and I stick to it, ruthlessly if I must.

  7. Kendricke says:

    Which basically reinforces the point that the games which enable and encourage social networking are the games which frequently are able to retain higher numbers of players over time.

    Make a game solo or casual friendly and you’ll bring in more numbers, but to keep those numbers around longer, I truly believe you have to provide incentives – not necessarily to the individual, but to the social hubs. By this I mean the players who influence the other players, who keep the other players around.

    A good example was Cuppycake. She decided to try playing Everquest II again around the time Echoes of Faydwer and Neriak were being launched. She wasn’t content to just try the game herself and decide to like it or not, because she went out to various forums (most notably FOHguild.org) and essentially recruited other players to come to the game with her (i.e. – Mystwalkers guild).

    Eventually, she herself burned out on the gameplay once again – but not before she’d convinced dozens of players to try the game out once more.

    If SOE could find better ways to keep players like Cuppycake actually interested in the game, chances are she’d find more ways to recruit players as well.

    That’s just one example, but the basic principle really remains the same.

  8. Anthony says:

    Sorry Xeavon, this was mostly directed to Kendricke. I’ve been trying to get in touch with him as best as possible.

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