Questing for heroism in MMOs

Dungeons and raids are usually the most exciting part of any MMO, but there’s still depressingly little heroism to be had in most of them. To be fair, there’s a tiny sliver of time when this isn’t the case – when a new dungeon arrives in, say, World of Warcraft, and teams have to go face its bosses and other challenges without a convenient wiki on hand. Those early days can be amazing.

Almost immediately though, heroism goes from defying the odds to merely consulting them; of not simply going in to pit a party’s skill against the latest threat to their world, but having the Dummies Guide To Killing This Guy under one arm. Worse, the expectation of this knowledge brings out the worst in the average MMO player, who has usually seen everything a hundred times and just wants to get to the end to get their shiny whatever.

Not only does this breed hostility towards new players, thanks to far too many old hands forgetting the time they served at the business end of the learning curve, it produces a vicious cycle where design increasingly has to be built around efficiency rather than actual adventure. The descent can be seen best in WOW, which started with dungeons of a comparable size and scope to a standard RPG, but inevitably got whittled down to little but a few boxes for bosses and corridors full of trash mobs. If anything, it’s a wonder players still tolerate those.

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  • This Post originally appeared on:
  • Bad puns and video games since 1999.
  • Originally dated as:
  • 07 Sep 2013 08:00:00 +0100