5 Ways People Take MMOs Too Seriously

by Tyler Edwards, Oct 3, 2012

A common stereotype of gamers in general and MMO players in particular is that they take their hobby much too seriously. They treat raiding like a job, and they become more attached to imaginary avatars than real people. They lose the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. In most cases, this stereotype is completely untrue, and most MMO players are, in fact, perfectly ordinary people. Most, but not all. There will always be a small minority of living stereotypes who embody the worst of the way the public perceives MMO players.


5: The smalltime hero:

Elitism is, sadly, something you see a lot of in MMOs. We've all run into arrogant top tier raiders and PvP gods who view anyone with less than a hundred thousand kills as beneath them. But it's understandable to run into these types when pushing through a game's hardest challenges. Sometimes, a little bit of snobbery is required dominate the toughest content and most skilled opponents.

What's much less understandable and much more frustrating is when that elitism makes it into the rest of the game, when people start viewing easy dungeons and simple group quests as something that can only be done by the best of the best.

Ironically, the people who give into this kind of elitism are often the least accomplished. Somehow, with no raid kills or significant player versus player wins to their name, they've still managed to view themselves as the pinnacle of gaming perfection, and they have no problem treating anyone who fails to meet their ideal of perfect play like something they scraped off their boot.

It doesn't matter that the content they're running could be facerolled by a half a dozen brain-dead lab chimps. It doesn't matter that their own play is sloppy. It doesn't matter that the real experts would laugh at them for taking things so seriously. In their own minds, they are the gods of gaming, and all should welcome their scathing "advice."

pvp contest 2

4: The anti-carebear:

Some people like to PvP. Some people love PvP. And some people allow PvP to consume their souls, until there is nothing left of them but a bitter shell of a person who can only measure the worth of someone by their ability to gank people as quickly and brutally as possible.

Even if they play a PvE-centric game, these people will behave as if the entire universe revolves around player versus player content. In their eyes, all PvEers are spineless carebears without the strength or the skill to play the game properly. If any feature doesn't contribute to their ability to gank, it has no reason to exist and should be stricken from the game.

These types have long since lost any capacity for fun. Winning or losing is all that matters to them. They don't play their class because they like it; they play it because they heard it was the most overpowered, and they'll level a new character the moment another class can beat it. They apply the same logic to race choice. They pick their server and faction based on whatever has the highest population of skilled PvPers. Every decision they make is only to further their kill count.

Like so many kinds of people on this list, these rabid virtual gladiators have let their passion run wild until they've long since ceased to get any joy from it. They hate their teammates for sucking, the enemy team for not sucking, and the game for not letting them faceroll everything with a broken class. Even their victories are but a brief respite from their endless frustration.

horde bias

3: The story nut:

For a lot of MMO players, the story of a game is just a largely ignored window dressing there to provide a weak explanation for why they just killed that dragon. But there are a select few who go to the opposite extreme. Far from ignoring the story, they become obsessed with it to the point where one has to wonder if they realize it's actually fictional.

This is another bunch of people who've allowed their passion to become twisted. They're no longer really looking for a good story. They don't want to be surprised, they don't want drama, they don't want suspense. They want everything to unfold exactly like it was their own fan fiction, with nothing bad ever happening to their favorite characters and factions and everything bad happening to anyone or anything they dislike.

These are the sort who will take any defeat of their favored faction as a personal insult, even if it has no impact on their gameplay whatsoever. A new twist to the plot that they dislike is not only poorly written, but blatantly offensive. They may begin to believe that the writers are simply out to get their faction/race/favorite character.

Things get craziest when two of these types with opposite viewpoints meet. The result is a brawl the likes of which has not been seen since Godzilla faced Mothra. Except instead of a giant lizard fighting a massive moth in the middle of Tokyo, it's two geeks barking at each other over the Internet.


2: Raiding is serious business:

There's an anxious lump in your throat. Weeks of effort have led to this point. You've provided extensive information on your past experience. They've combed through your digital records. You've provided references. You've sat through multiple intensive interviews. Now, it all comes down to this: the final interview to determine whether you'll get the position.

Are you applying for your dream job? No, you're just trying to earn the right to fling fireballs at digital dragons.

There's a stereotype out there that raiding in MMOs is like having a second job, and while it is often untrue, there are nonetheless a significant number of guilds out there doing everything in their power to prove the stereotype true.

It starts with a message posted in general chat. "LF mage for progression raiding." The message directs you to a website with an application form. The form is a bit long, but you fill it out, wondering why they need to know the name and class of every guild master you've ever served under.

Then come the interviews. The ambush questions about your past raiding history. The interviews of your friends, your guild, and for some reason your mother. Then the boss strategy pop quizzes, the trial dungeon runs, the blood tests and criminal history checks.

Eventually, it becomes impossible to remember that you're playing a game. By the time you finally clear the last interviews and trial runs, you've long since lost the ability to enjoy raiding, and all that's left is the desperate need to prove your worthiness in this most harrowing virtual endeavor.

everquest picture

1: The old guard:

This is a good time to be an MMO player. Years of progress in technology and design have produced a broad field full of rich, deep games that can appeal to many different kinds of players. Yet some people long for the old days - days of long grinds, cheesy graphics, harsh death penalties, and few concessions to player quality of life.

These people long for the early days of the genre, when MMOs were a niche market catering to a relatively small number of fiercely loyal players. There's nothing wrong with a little nostalgia, but some of these old school players have let it overwhelm their better judgment. Donning a thick set of rose colored glasses, they now view all the advances of the industry as a long and terrible degradation of the MMO formula.

For these types, MMOs are meant to be hard, brutal grinds that reward only the most ruthlessly determined players. Killing thousands of mobs for hours to level up once? Bliss. Losing gear or levels upon death? Thrilling. Spending an hour spamming chat channels for a dungeon group? Builds community. A raid so difficult only three percent of the players finished it? Awesome, if a little on the easy side.

The embittered old guard view all improvements to accessibility and casual play as poison to a game, and those that enjoy them as sniveling Xbox Live vagrants dumbing down their precious MMOs. That a shift toward the casual player has vastly improved the popularity of the MMO genre is, to them, only proof that developers have sold out to the unwashed masses, betraying their loyal players in the process.

You can almost pity them. Their once beloved genre has changed almost beyond recognition, and that would be hard for anyone. But the truly hardcore of the old school don't simply miss the old days. They demand their return, and to Hell with all those filthy casuals infesting their games. There's no need to compromise, no way for both groups to be happy; everyone must play their way. The irony of this is apparently lost on them.