8/366 – My MMO Days Might Be Behind Me

goldshireWay back in the day, I was a pretty heavy MMO player. After a childhood in which my games preferences were decidedly “everything” or alternatively “whatever was popular”, I found that my adult life, filled with annoying things like “limited budget” and by association, “bills”, needed a bit of focus.

Thus my foray into RPGs and MMOs was born. It started out with MUDs and text-based worldbuilders, games that required you to use your imagination and know about precise mathematical formulae to succeed, and eventually landed itself square in World of Warcraft, where I would spend my first real set of hundreds of hours leveling up, getting sweet looking shiny gear that was outdated after six months, and trying to herd 39 other people into a cohesive group to raid the game’s highest level content.

After WoW burnout, a lot of what I played primarily was MMOs. Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, Warhammer Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Aion…the list goes on. Every MMO had its perks, but the things that kept me coming back were the joy of leveling and grinding up an ever-improving character, challenging dungeons, the lure of “phat lewtz”, and those times when me and my guildmates would get into all kinds of PvP shenanigans.

These were good times. The problem was, however, that my investment in these games began to be more taxing to me. Moving to a new MMO game after seeing my current one’s shine seem to fade was taxing. Leveling and grinding became more of a chore rather than a pleasing and rewarding experience. And endgame content? If I didn’t have the right group of friends or just enough of them to go and experience it, it was locked out to me. Sure, I could try to attach myself to a new, larger guild with people galore, but as I got older, I started to realize that I had less of a connection with the people who had time to sit around for 10-12 hours in one sitting and advance much further than my toon who was still rolling in leather rags and a wooden sword and shield.

It’s hard, because I think MMOs, despite many notions of trying to eliminate a grind, leveling, and extended gearing process, are by definition not games that can get rid of such things. They can only hide them behind more pleasant leveling experiences (public and group questing, for example) or through easier or more viable endgame content tailored towards those who have less people to roll with. By their very nature, they require significant and extended time investment, something that I have much less of these days. Aside from my Extra Life stream back in October where I played a couple MMOs for a few hours, I haven’t been regularly in an MMO in almost 2 years.

But it isn’t all depressing. I learned a lot from MMOs, and from following and playing them have gained many friends who I talk to and associate with today. I kickstarted my side work into the games industry due to working on MMOs and I wouldn’t be where I was today if I hadn’t gotten bitten by the MMO bug. MMOs, if anything else, are a microcosm of how people have chosen to get to know each other, build communities, and find value online and on the internet. They’re a part of a phenomenon that is sure to continue as far as one major way people¬†choose to game and spend time. It’s just not something I can squeeze and more value out of.

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