Well met, crusaders!
Today we have a special guest from the front lines. He goes by the name Anthony. Anthony is a video game designer, a mmorpg player and a crusader. He speaks passionately about his worries of the genre and he comes here today to answer questions regarding MMORPGs and Social Interaction.
Let us give a warm welcome and salute to Anthony.
Why is Social Interaction important to MMORPGs?
The success of a MMORPG is driven by its social interactions. These games essentially involve a lot of grinding and repetitive content that people usually would not bother doing. The reason MMORPG are able to motivate people to go through these things is because they have other players around them which is a strong motivator. They can compare to the best players, or to their friends, maybe want to level/get gear faster than someone, etc. The more you strip away this social part, the less people will feel the need to stay competitive, or even stay in the game at all.
Do you feel that MMORPGs current mechanics have driven away Social Interaction?
There is definitely a big trend of avoiding social interactions. This is probably not intentional for the developers, it is mostly a consequence of making the game easier. Nowadays most multiplayer content is automatic: dungeon groups finder, battleground queueing, map events that everyone can participate without being in group, etc.
The result is a sensation of being around players but not with them: Unless you do very advanced things in the game (which only a few people will bother doing because there is now largely enough content to satisfy people without going there), you probably won’t need to talk to anyone. Even guilds have become obsolete in a lot of games due to the automatic group creation features. The only players still having social interactions are the most dedicated players going to higher difficulties.
Do you believe that older MMORPGs were more social then current MMORPGs?
Older MMORPG were a lot more social, but they are from another time. The gaming industry has matured a lot and because we now want to get as much players attracted to games as possible, we create games that are easier to come to. Basically, game developers avoid all things that can be frustrating or repetitive. The thing is, most of the social interactions in game can be very frustrating, which is the reason why they are gradually disappearing.
If you look at early MMORPGs, the content was extremely hard. Even solo content (character leveling, questing..) often required help. People were having a hard time alone and had to reach out to other people to succeed. That was the source of most interactions, but also the source of most frustrations because people weren’t able to do much by themselves. Over time, the questing process of online games has been changed so that you are never stuck if you play alone, effectively eliminating the need for company.
Information gathering has also changed. Games nowadays are very clear. You know where to go and what to do, while a few years ago people had to search for hours to find information they need. This is especially true in MMO where the content essentially consists of many quests. At the time, people often ended up asking to other people how to do something, where to go, etc. Here again, this was an opportunity for socializing, but also a frustrating experience that has been stripped away by adding enough ingame indicators for the player to find everything without searching (quest information on the map, radars…).
Then the group content in itself has been made less social. The “group finder” systems have now become standard and people have no reason to try to reach out to people for group content. They just have to get on the queue and wait. The content is made so that the strategies players have to follow are simple, based around the same mechanics and do not require much coordination. The result is people able to finish a 25-person raid without having to talk at any moment. The hardest content in MMORPG still require a lot of coordination though, this is the content that is made for hardcore players. But this content is played through by a very little part of the population. With the difficulty levels that most games are now using, casual and core players can go to difficulties that are quickly done and don’t require much organization, while only hardcore players will bother doing the rest. Another side effect of this is guilds becoming basically useless since people have no need to organize to play in group, except for a fraction of people.
If you had to express and define what MMORPGs are, what would it be?
An MMORPG is a living and evolving game world where the players characters evolve with each other and cooperate to achieve their goals
Social Interaction is essential for MMORPGs. As Anthony has stated, MMORPGs have gradually changed and these changes have affected how Social Interaction is used in MMORPGs. We must act now my fellow crusaders! Take up arms and speak out to those that can change the direction this genre is going.
Ask yourself this: What can I do to bring back Social Interaction in MMORPGs?
The truth is in the design!
Join my crusade and together we can find the truth!
For those that have just joined, I go by the name Raistmere. Just like you, I am a MMORPG player. My passion lies in the design of MMORPGs. As a student of video game design, I seek to bring back the roots of what MMORPGs were design for.