Gamers are Serious People

Posted On: July 19, 2006
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A lot of talk by so-called experts about gamers revolve around the negative aspects, such as gamers becoming anti-social, they expect instant gratification because things happen immediately from a push of a button, or that they waste a whole lifetime simply staring at the screen, ignoring the norms of education, relationships, career and such. Well, in some cases these are well-founded facts, as we all know how much of a timesink games can be. But you would not know how real the virtual world can get, until you dabble your virtual feet into MMORPGs (or more formally, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).

MMORPGs actually received their roots from games called MUDS (Multi-User Dungeons), where in those ancient days, MUDs were played purely in text form over the Internet. Then slowly, as technology advances, developers spend more time on the games, and gamers demanded more, skins or graphical representations of the text-based virtual world were created. Today, almost all MMORPGs are in 3D format, either in first-person or third person perspectives. They are huge, bustling, full-fledged communities with an economy, guilds that resemble a family, social aspects and player-versus-player combat that is much better than the monotony of killing computer-controlled monsters over and over anytime.

I had first gotten my feet wet in Dark Age of Camelot back in 2001, and more recently the current mother-of-all-MMOPRGs – World of Warcraft (fondly called WoW by players). In WoW, we have a guild which over the past year of so, has grown to a substantial size, made up of players from all over the world. Not exactly huge like some of the “hardcore” raiding guilds though. Most of the players are from the USA or Europe regions and thus there are a lot of coordination required in arrangements for dungeons raids or even small guild events. Some guilds even dictate a requirement to use Ventrilo or Teamspeak to communicate via VoIP for large raids, in order to get more organised. Looting rules (who gets what from the items that drop off a monster are even set), and anyone who “steals” an item will be flagged as a “ninja” and kicked out of the raid. More importantly, we get to feel the social aspects of the game as we chat with people, as we help the other people either in quests or even in their chosen professions.

The social aspects are obvious when you take a moment to observe the behaviour of other people. Some gamers will simple log on and play solo, seldom speaking in chat, while others make a nuisance of themselves in chat channels that have been dedicated to specific purposes (such as trade or looking for groups). Some are focused on making tons of money, while others are just interested in getting the best gear they possibly can (and thus join huge raids in the toughest dungeons). The character of the person sitting behind the computer is revealed through his or her actions, for instance, you will know someone is power-hungry, or seeks a lot of attention or needs a lot of affirmation for his contributions.

I play with my friend Wilfrid in the guild he initially formed with another player, and although I am an “officer” in the guild, my real contributions in-game have been largely limited to joining in raids, rather than leading them. Wilfrid, on the other hand, likes to make a whole bunch of friends online, and at one time lead raids at least once a day. And he gets into a whole bunch of headache situations as well, such as disagreements (or differences in opinions) with other players, even me sometimes. He had to pacify other players who felt hurt because they were left out of a raid (for good reasons). He had to chide off other people who did something wrong in-game. God knows, he has had countless whispers from various people arguing with him. Of course, he also had countless whispers as well from people who thinks he is a hot babe (he plays a hot babe in-game). In more recent times, he has been dealing with this tussle for power within the guild. Sometimes I suspect he has this dangerous dark streak in him that just shouts to be abused.

For me, I just don’t need that sort of stress in-game because that is my personal space away from everything that’s real. In my own words to Wilfrid a few months back, “I just don’t give a damn, it’s just a game.”. When players start manifesting what they hope to achieve in real life, to the virtual world, it becomes serious business. For me, it simply kills off the fun.