25 April 2007

Is it a crime to enjoy single player in a multi-player world?

Consider this, gentle readers - in our modern gamer culture of Fragfests, LAN parties, Xbox Live bragging, MMORPGs, Sims and SecondLife happenings-on, why is it that people treat the single player of any game as the "training mode" or skip it completely?

Is it the thrill of comparing your skills against other real players instead of the canned AI 'bots that the game comes with? The ability to know you bested another player who enjoys the experience as much as you do? The camaraderie of belonging to a clan or guild of like-minded individuals who go off to impale/shoot/blast/magick the opposition each time?

Or is it just being able to hang out with people who you've gotten to know by playing, talking and sharing things while engaging in a common experience?

It certainly isn't for the grief of players (teen, adult, child, child-minded adults, etc) who yell profanities into headsets, bouncing around like a crack-addled pogo-stick riders, thus completely blowing whatever illusion there was of a futuristic warrior/elite counter-terrorist soldier/ancient warrior/or insert-genre-here. I'm sure we all know and have seen prime examples of this sub-species of gamer.

Or perhaps you've ran into another fine example of a common sub-species...the coat-tail rider. You know, someone who joins a group/guild/clan and gets to the Big Kahuna Boss, puts as little effort into downing it, and then grabs the goodies/gold/experience at the end and takes off.
Go Team Spirit :)

Of course, our list wouldn't be complete without the Comparison Gamer, another fine example of a sub-species. We've all seen the one who complains that "such-and-such a game" did (feature X or Y or Z) much better than the one you're currently playing. Or that his last clan/guild/team/loosely-organized group of oatmeal-brained primates he was playing with were so much better/stronger/fairer/more L337 than you and your friends are.

Or maybe it's because you have to rush and hold the hands of the other common sub-species, the Toddler Gamer; the one who now feels that since he's joined your clan/guild/group that you should only do what HE says, WHEN he says it and HOW he says it. If you decide otherwise, he complains loudly and often that "no one ever helps him" and "he's always being left out on (insert an important feature of team-play which features an objective & reward here) and so he feels you're all doody-heads". A more dangerous version of this sub-species is the Important Class Toddler Gamer, who plays a class of character you desperately need, like an engineer, medic, healer, demolitions or maybe he has a talent to make something you or your friends really need. Then everyone has to play by HIS rules. Which suits the Toddler Gamer just fine.

MMORPGs make this situation much, much worse by insisting that the really "good" things that make a character powerful are only available when you join a clan/guild/group and go fight something you cannot possibly take down by yourself. Yay.

I say give the single player the chance to do these things without having to join up with 5, 10, 20, even 40 people to do this. Yes, some will argue..."well, why play a MMORPG in the first place?" "It teaches teamwork" "It's part of playing these games, deal with it" "4 out of 5 Dentists Recommend it"
To all this I say that I learned all about teamwork back in grade school. I don't need an online refresher taught by annoying teens, bossy adults or people who believe they can make everything in the (outside) world better if they run their clan/guild/group with an Iron Fist. There's a video on YouTube of some wingnut yelling at the top of his voice at other people in his guild to do EXACTLY as he says or they'll lose the ability to get any sort of reward.

Really makes you want to run to the nearest store and buy one of these fine games just to have someone like that take a giant poop on your gaming experience, doesn't it?

MMORPGs work just fine doing the solo stuff, just make the rest of the material available without having to get THIRTY-NINE OTHER FREAKIN' PEOPLE involved.

Some readers out there might have the sense that I've a bone to pick with MMORPGs...and that's not entirely true. I do have a bone to pick with some aspects of a particular game, World of Warcraft (WoW) and some of its game mechanics.

But more on this later.

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