Awful MMO Lesson #1; skills are bad, grind is good
A1) The definition of "skill"
we're surrounded these days with the kindergarten-level mindset that it's not what you accomplish or how good your work is, it's whether or not you tried hard.
A1.1) Skill in FPS games
In many today's FPS games skill is defined as being able to perform a headshot instantly(or high kick in F.E.A.R.). This is a side effect of having an almost 99.9% perfect system of control over aiming by computer mouse. Less skilled players (those on the receiving end) suffer because of this, being shot in the head 100th time in a row is .. simply NOT fun. On the other hand, we have XBOX and "Halo" franchise, the XBOX controller is a game in itself, its vastly inferior to computer mouse in terms of precision and this makes it impossible for anyone to automate aiming for the head. This type of skill is called a psycho-motor skill.
A1.1.1) How do we develop a skill?
The "snapshot" skill will never develop because in order to automate any psycho-motoric skill, a typical human needs over 1000 successful iterations of an action before it becomes automated. When using an XBOX controller no 2 aim attempts are the same (due to the controller) therefore full automation is almost impossible to achieve. This makes "Halo" a huge hit among gamers.
A1.2) Skill in RTS games
Many RTS games on PC are way too simplistic, they don't offer enough variation to be called "strategies". Developers of RTS games are faced with a dilemma; if they make their game complex, it will be difficult to balance it so they go for a simple design. Unfortunately, simplistic systems are also closed systems with little or no variability. Sooner or later players will be able to find "build orders" on various game related forums which will tell them (with mathematical precision) exactly what to do in order to win. This destroys the fun of discovery and of learning the game. Those build orders are SO precise that one is able to mount an attack at an exact time mark (example: after EXACTLY 3 minutes and 22 seconds, I will be attacked by Illidan and 5 huntresses if my opponent is a night elf in Warcraft 3). This is called metagaming, skill is defined as being able to find "build orders" on game forums.
This simplicity of design kills the genre. Unfortunately a $imple game is cheaper and ea$ier to produce, manage and maintain. Consoles don't have RTS games (as a result of not using a PC human interface device; mouse), RTS games are PC exclusives, yet almost no one plays them and so once more, consoles pull ahead of PC.
Personally, I think that the only GOOD RTS game at this point in time is Company of Heroes simply because it is complex enough to allow for employing different strategies. Early game "rushing" is not an option because the system is complex enough to ensure "quick adapting, fast recovery and launching a counter attack" at any point in the game (no scissor/rock/paper idiocy).
A1.3) Skill in other games
According to Raph Koster several articles on the subject, older games like Street Fighter were much healthier (and more fun) than today's games and they allowed for player skills, why is that?
A fair game does not give material advantages to one player over the other
A fair game gives each player equal opportunity to bring whatever legal materials he wants (in our case, you can choose any character you want, no need to grind him to level 60. All players have immediate equal access to all characters.)
It's ok (and the entire point!) to bring to the game a) more knowledge than your opponent about the nuances of the game, and b) more skill than your opponent.
Time invested should count for nothing in a fair game. It might take me 1 hour to learn a few nuances and gain a certain level of skill and you 1000 hours. The hours don't matter; only the knowledge and skill matter.
I'll say it again: winning is a meritocracy.
Finally, playing a fair game is what it's all about. It would never occur to us to play a game where one player gets to do 50% more damage because he has a level 60 Chun Li.
Look ma, no hands!
Showcasing ones skills is what players really want in the games they play. Toady's MMOs offer a replacement for this in the form of EPIC equipment which is gained through skill-less grind. If you allow players to show their skills they will be every bit as much motivated to play as they are currently being motivated by the heroin strategy (which will be discussed later on in the text).
Some of you are blessed with intelligence and/or talent. These gifted individuals have to be recognized for what they are (and for what they can become) and encouraged to further develop their skills and talents. This is a core of modern teacher training syllabus. This is deemed a priority when it comes to education in all modern schools. Perhaps today's game developers should brush up their own skills and learn from other professions.
A2) The two part problem:
There are two basic problems that need to be solved before you can create a MMO game.
A2.1) Problem part 1 - grind vs content
First you have to decide how much content (I defined content as scripted dialog, branching conversations, learning situations that elicit problem solving, tasks that develop psycho-motoric skills just to name a few) you are going to put into the game. You will probably go for the economy principle, you will try to design little or no quality content and thus save money.
Designing QUALITY content means designing special made challenging SITUATIONS for players, in these situations players are supposed to use reason (knowledge and intelligence) to
a) solve the problem
b) abstract the solution, find the underlying principle
c) apply it to all similar situations.
Designing such quality content unfortunately means spending more money to produce the game. The solution is to replace quality content with something else, with a pacifier or a surrogate. The only surrogate able to occupy players instead of quality content is actually - operant conditioning (grind).
"Developers should provide activities that interest players "rather than stringing them along with little pieces of candy so that they'll suffer through terrible game play, but keep playing because they gain levels or new items",
A2.2) Problem part 2 - grind vs skill
Another problem will be how to deal with individual player skill and maturity, your financial goal will be to get as many subscribers as possible. WoW is based around "EVERYONE and their dog can play it" principle. It is designed in such a way to actively iron out any and all advantages a skilled player may have over the unskilled one and in addition to this to make the game simple enough so the kids can play it (no mature content). Skilled players may also finish the game too soon and stop paying.
A long time ago (before the age of kalganism ) one could enjoy stealth runs (example: 2 druids and a rogue), one could actually beat several 5man instances by playing smart. This took a lot of skill and was soon declared "cheating" and "not working as intended" and was promptly "fixed" to prevent "burrowing through content".
A3) The two part solution:
A3.1) Solution part1: the god of grind a.k.a. "heroin strategy"
In today's MMO games skill means nothing, its all about who can make a larger time sacrifice. In WoW, the one who plays MORE is the only one deserving to be stronger. This is a really, really bad message to send. This means that people are SUPPOSED to play this game excessively and are being encouraged to do it. Instead of actively discouraging people from sacrificing their real lives at the altar of gaming, WoW rewards exactly this kind of behavior thus pushing people into unnecessary dis-ease. This is happening because Blizzard (over)uses a strategy known as the "heroin strategy".
I should probably make something of a disclaimer here: ten years ago I gave a talk at GDC entitled "The Alchemy of Addiction: Creating Games That Keep People Playing." This was just after the point when we had to argue hard for a flat-rate subscription model, since our publisher saw huge dollar signs at the many hours people would rack up playing our game, and actively supported what we glibly called "the heroin strategy" for game design.
I still support designs that bring people back -- but also ones that send them away. The last thing I want is a game that rewards someone for playing to the exclusion of having a life (or even one that just becomes a part-time or full-time job!).
I would not give that talk again.
Michael "Mike" Sellers
Heroin strategy may push some of the players into a state of mental disorder.
Other gamers live more precariously. Libby Smith, a trainer at the institute, is helping a World of Warcraft addict in his mid-20s who's dropped out of college, lost numerous jobs, lost his girlfriend, and is on the verge of homelessness. "He maintains he has no problem," says Smith. His family finally intervened and brought him to the institute.
One of the symptoms of pathological gaming, says Smith, is an inability or unwillingness to examine one's behavior openly and honestly.
"It is important to remember this addiction is real, and as such, it has become the single most important relationship -- bar none -- in this person's life. As such, the addiction will resist any attempts to control it."
The sheer simplicity of grinding helps those people without skills to progress through the game and at the same time it slows down skilled players. Grind has completely dethroned both skill and content. Grind makes your character powerful enough to win in PvP and ensures you will get a place reserved for you in PvE. It also shapes players into skinnerian rats who keep pressing the lever because they have become addicted to the stimuli the lever provides.
One of Skinners best known inventions is the Skinner box. It contains one or more levers which an animal can press, one or more stimulus lights and one or more places in which reinforcers like food can be delivered.
In one of Skinners’ experiments a starved rat was introduced into the box. When the lever was pressed by the rat a small pellet of food was dropped onto a tray. The rat soon learned that when he pressed the lever he would receive some food. In this experiment the lever pressing behavior is reinforced by food.
If pressing the lever is reinforced (the rat gets food) when a light is on but not when it is off, responses (pressing the lever) continue to be made in the light but seldom, if at all, in the dark. The rat has formed discrimination between light and dark. When one turns on the light, a response occurs, but that is not a Pavlovian conditioned reflex response.
In this experiment Skinner demonstrated the ideas of "operant conditioning" and "shaping behavior." Unlike Pavlov's "classical conditioning," where an existing behavior (salivating for food) is shaped by associating it with a new stimulus (ringing of a bell or a metronome), operant conditioning is the rewarding of an act that approaches a new desired behavior.
Skinner applied his findings about animals to human behavior and even developed teaching machines so students could learn bit by bit, uncovering answers for an immediate "reward." Computer-based self-instruction uses many of the principles of Skinner's technique.
Let me illustrate this for easier understanding:
Shot at 2008-09-20">
"Carrot on a stick" rewards
The heroes of WoW are people who are able to play the game for 12hrs per day. How can you recognize them? - by their "Epic items", which are earned through "skinner box" grind. "Epics" are rewards not as an reward for showing skill, but for being there 12hrs/day.
"That kind of reward system is very easily turned into a Pavlovian or Skinnerian scheme," he says. "It's considered best practice: schedule rewards for your player so that they don't get bored and give up on your game. That's actually exploitation."
Grind is also the single worst aspect of todays MMO games as it taps into the "reptile brain" and abuses operant conditioning, turning players into dopamine addicts (same as gamblers).
In your brain you have a system that comes up from some of the oldest evolved parts of your brain to some of the most recently evolved parts. Reptile parts to ape parts. In brain research on addiction, it’s generally called the mesolimbic dopamine pathway or system. All the main addictive drugs affect this system, making the mesolimbic pathway a core component in addictive behavior. Addictive experiences—gambling, shopping, eating and sex—also impact the mesolimbic dopamine system.
Encouraging people to play for periods of time longer than 4hrs/day (which equals to a part time job) is in many ways unhealthy and borders with reckless endangerment. No-one should be rewarded for having spent 40-50% of his waking hours on a GAME.
You can't say that about Blizzard, which structures the games like World of Warcraft to be addictive. They design these MMORPGs to keep people in the game. I do think the problem is tied in with other things like family issues, but the games themselves are inherently addictive. That's ultimately the cause of the problem.
I'd say that 40 percent of the players are addicted.
Dr. Maressa Orzack
After several cyber cafe deaths in China, China imposing a limit on how many hours a day one is allowed to play the game)
The line is crossed, he says, when grades drop, chores go undone and children disappear from the family dinner table, wooed by the allure of that glowing screen.
It's not just teens, of course. The Chinese man who died last year after playing a video game for three straight days was 30. And in 2005, the Chinese government opened a computer addiction clinic after two other young men collapsed and died after marathon game sessions.
kid who played way too much World of Warcraft
: "World of Warcraft had become the one place he was joining the world. Bringing him back to the real world took months of therapy, a wilderness camp and boarding school." Months of therapy, a wilderness camp and boarding school -- could the cure be worse than the disease? The article describes him as a "tween" -- between the ages of ten and twelve. So let's break it down. A middle schooler was allowed by his parents to spend as much unsupervised time playing World of Warcraft as he liked, such that it was the only thing he did.
In space, no-one can hear you grind! No heroin for EVE players
EVE Online character development is based on real time training of skills, my character is currently learning 1900 skill points per hour of real time. In EVE, you train skills even while being offline so there is actually no incentive to stare at your screen for long periods of time. Additionally, there are virtually no levels in the game so younger players are able to participate in fleet PvP from the start. In WoW you first have to be maxed out in order to begin playing arenas (which makes you either quit or grind faster to finally jump into the game). Last but not least any player can go buy the best in-game items (ships and modules) provided he has the money, there are no raid drops featuring a tiny random drop chance.
In WoW, even IF (Dragon Kill Points). The item will go to player who has accumulated the most your item does drop (after 30x raids lasting from 6 to 8 hours), you still have to roll against all the players (20-40 of them) who also want it. Some guilds use DKPs. DKP points are awarded for raid attendance and boss kills.
The randomness of epic drops in WoW is quite intentional, as the randomness makes the addiction less resistant to dissipation over time (see skinner box).
According to the laws of operant conditioning, any behavior that is consistently rewarded, every single time, will extinguish at a faster rate while intermittently reinforcing behavior leads to more stable rates of behavior that are relatively more resistant to extinction. Thus, in detection dogs, any correct behavior of indicating a "find," must always be rewarded with a tug toy or a ball throw early on for initial acquisition of the behavior. Thereafter, fading procedures, in which the rate of reinforcement is "thinned" (not every response is reinforced) are introduced, switching the dog to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement, which is more resistant to instances of non-reinforcement.
CCP developers are content with having only 50-70k regular customers and refuse to let greed affect their design strategy, they will not play dirty. EVE will allow you to grind (mine) while being AFK (away from keyboard) for long periods of time, it does not require your presence and constant control over the process. This is why almost no EVE player exhibits signs of addiction. EVE does not use skinner box operant conditioning to keep player grinding away (but for this reason it also makes A LOT less money).
Grinding happens in real life as well as in WoW! you would do good to learn from this!
One might argue that grind (also perceived by some as perseverance, effort, concentration, self sacrifice....etc. etc.) is how things are in real life. According to them learning that you need to invest a lot effort in order to achieve results is a good thing. I will not subscribe to that particular interpretation simply because WoW takes too many HOURS away from people. What good is knowing that "grind" yields results in real life if you don't (cant? wont?) participate in real life due to a game?
A3.2) Solution part 2: grind replaces skill, the game is oversimplified (the only remaining challenging part is grinding)
Blizzards insistence on removing all the time/accomplishment shortcuts (resulting from player skills) from their game shows the nature of the beast.
Skill is a good thing because it creates an intrinsic motivation within individuals which ultimately drives them towards completely mastering a particular craft. People should not be forcibly reduced to the least common denominator in order to secure an egalitarian society. Skilled individuals should be allowed to pull ahead and lead. Let me rephrase this, being able to spend 12hrs. per day in a game does not automatically equal good leadership nor good people skills.
In MMOs, leaders are those players who play the most (time-wise, of course). Their leadership skills are poor at best (grind does not equal skill).
The notion that 40 monkeys typing at their typewriters will eventually create the entire works of Shakespear is ludicrous. Skilled individuals are responsible for all the biggest leaps in science. 100 composers with little or no talent will not be able to compose music superior to that of Strauss, Mozart or Wagner.
In order for someone to win (and enjoy winning) someone else has to lose. If one keeps winning time and time again, the other will not have a fun time. Many Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter games have a special setting named "handicap". By using this setting you can make a superior skilled opponent less dangerous by lowering his amount of health. This way both players are able to enjoy the game, because both have semi-equal chances of winning. Practically the only "bad" way of solving the skill riddle is to eliminate skills from the game altogether.
In WoW, this problem was handled differently, by introducing classes that are more simple to play. Even though it may be a good idea to introduce a simple-to-play class in the game (in order to allow less skilled players to have fun), it is not ok to make this simplistic class mathematically stronger than the other classes. Players who play classes that are more difficulty to play should be allowed to pull ahead, classes should scale with players skills. If you don't allow for this, skilled players will feel de-motivated and will quit the game. This way you will lose the best of the best of players and then you will be left with leftovers. Non skilled player "DPS monkeys") are simply not ABLE to lead guilds or raids, to tank or heal, they only can do that which is easy (DPS), and so the fabric of the game fails at its weakest link. Furthermore, the reason why MMO sandboxes are so popular lies in people created social phenomena, if at any time you drive out the "good" people, this major portion of game content will turn from good to ugly.
Another blatant example of oversimplification 70 characters use only 1-2 spells/abilities because all the other spells is the make-up of class talent trees. Scaling of various powers and abilities is done in such a way that once your character is well equipped most powers dont scale well with equipment. Everyone ends up wearing the same equipment/sockets and using same spells that do similar damage. Resilience killed chances of critical hits ever happening, so damage per second output of a particular class became an easily calculable CONSTANT value, identical to all members of that class.
The most horrible PvP GRIND in WoW
The worst design feature ever to be introduced into a game was the old WoW honor system (in the times before the release of TBC). According to the old honor system a player had to be placed #1 (on an entire server) for a period of one entire week to get enough points to advance to the final rank (rank 14). If a player failed to do this, he did not get the rank. This usually meant playing 16+ hrs/day week after week waiting for that special week when no other players played more than you did. Each week a pre-defined portion of the players efforts was subtracted from the total, this forced people to keep playing even when they didn't feel like it. Players didn't have an option of taking a break from PvP. If they did take a break they actually lost points and their ascent towards the top rank took even more time.
PvP was at that time widely seen as a thing reserved for the unemployed. At the very same time it was entirely possible to reach rank 13 by leeching honor (sitting in the bushes) in the battlegrounds. It was more important to BE there 12hrs/day (and more) than actively participating, you didn't HAVE TO participate at all. Same things are still in effect, if you lose all the matches during 13 arena weeks, you still get your season 2 set. Blizzard people have recently introduced PERSONAL ratings into the arena system, once again forcing players to directly compete against each other in how many hrs/day they can spend on the game.
I tried my best against WoW PvP honor horror system and managed to get to server position #6. At the time I had been PvPing for 10 hours straight each and every day, 7 days in the week. I was ultimately unable to ascend to position #5 because the next player positioned just above me played MORE (more than 14 hrs/day which I simply couldn't meet or beat).
Players occupying positions #5 and #4 reported:
1) marital problems - one of them had to make a choice between his wife and WoW, he chose WoW because he "would not stop now, now that he is so close to making it".
2) losing a job - the other had to take a vacation in order to play for 15+ hours/day, 2 weeks later he still hadn't achieved the desired rank and so had to prolong the vacation. Several weeks later he lost the job which according to him wasn't all that bad because now he finally had time to achieve the rank. Soon thereafter he fell ill and subsequently had to invest 2 additional months to get to the desired rank.
"I think a lot of modern game design is actually unethical, especially massively multi-player games like World of Warcraft, because they are predicated on player exploitation,"
First come first serve
In Eve online, similar to WoW, player skill is quite irrelevant, which is bad. The combat system is quite simplistic and consists mostly of orbiting in a superior (more expensive) craft and auto-attacking. The biggest problem of EVE Online is the double edged sword of real time skill point generation. To put it simply, all the players who started playing EVE before you did, will forever remain more powerful. There is no "max" level and therefore no catching up. As time goes by, it is more and more difficult for young players to join in and start playing EVE.
The heroes of EVE Online are people who run 6-12 accounts on several PCs, who go into PvP controlling 4-6 ships at the same time, most of them used as remote repairers. Eve heroes pull ahead by investing more time and real life money on training multiple "alts" and then using them to mine for ISK.
Blizzard wants ALL players (kids, grandmas) to progress through the game as slow as possible by doing activities which are:
1) easy to code (save on budget)
2) take up a lot of players time through operant conditioning (simulate actual content)
3) are easy enough to do so everyone can do them (sell the game to everyone)
4) tap into the "inner gambler" in order to produce addiction to the game (produce addicts to keep them returning to the game)
Blizzards credo is :
"save on game development, simulate actual content, sell the game to everyone, produce addicts, keep them returning"
A5) Inter-player content, the living soul of MMOs
The biggest contributing factor to the immense success of MMOs is actually the content provided by other people. Inter-player content is the content born in the interaction between players, separate and apart from game code. Its an organism of its own, existing outside of the binary code of an MMO, its LIFE itself, its what makes these game "deep" when in binary code they are extremely shallow, its what sells the game. Inter-player content "happens" by itself when people communicate/manipulate/lie/coerce etc. because thereby they create another layer of the game, that of intrigue, diplomacy, drama and more often than not acts of aggression.
I will provide one short example of what I call "inter-player content"
Large guilds in WoW feature numerous player created social mechanisms which ensure progress. Players have to have appropriate resistances on equipment, potions, elixirs and flasks, bandages and enough gold to pay for repairs. They have to sign up on the forums in due time (usually one week ahead) and sign out (or find an replacement) if they learn that they may not be able to attend. Players will be advised to spec. properly, to socket their equipment properly etc. There will inevitably be some diplomacy at work here, power plays, loot drama, and random hostility between players. All of these things sum up to become added content, added INCENTIVE for the players to keep returning to the game.
Emotional attachment to the time you spent building your character is what brings you back to the game even after you have seen all the content. If you character gets nerfed (as all of us have experienced at one time or the other) you will FEEL bad and will seek like minded individuals on you class forums. You will write petitions, and in short, WASTE EVEN MORE TIME ON THE GAME. Classes are being INTENTIONALLY nerfed on scheduled intervals ("FOTM - flavor of the month classes"), to keep players playing (some will re-roll, some will waste hundreds of hours on class forums). This abuse of inter player content does not happen in EVE.
Abusing emotional attachment
When TBC (The Burning Crusade) first came out the classes were (for a time) balanced and the game gained in complexity and variability. This was soon thereafter (once the people bought the game) rolled back to previous state and once again oversimplified. This was knows as "bait and switch" tactic. Many players were duped into buying the expansion as they were promised changes that were at a later date removed.
EVEntually there will be content
Similar to WoW, EVE Online also suffers from the serious lack of content compensated for by a healthy dose of inter-player content. 99% of content in EVE is actually trying to survive in a darwinistic universe inhabited with competitive players. You are pitted against other players in a typical sandbox. Some players who love free form/sandbox this style of play is good but the majority will still prefer WoW for its simplicity and for its superiority in terms of scripted encounters (raids and quests).
The lack of guidance is what discourages many from playing EVE, in EVE there are no instances (which are a major selling point of WoW), players are left to their own devices, if you manage to find your niche within the EVE-verse you will have fun. If you don't want to look for your place in EVE and would rather just join the /LFG (looking for group) system and go raiding, EVE will seem as monotonous, uneventful, boring in its vast emptiness of space.
Eve Online still has a very healthy player base. It is a niche product as opposed to WoW, the ultimate goal of WoW is to attract EVERYONE to play it, to draw in entire families. EVE is a game made for die-hard SF fans and is complex enough (steep learning curve) to attract older players while repelling the majority of young players. EVE world is completely player governed, all the "flesh" of the game is comprised of other players. The economic system in EVE is so complex (as opposed to one in WoW) that CCP have employed an expert to scientifically research it. The reason for this success lies in awesome inter-player content.
The work of Dr. Eyjólfur Guđmundsson
has been discussed quite a bit online, but offline citizens of our planet have probably never heard of his work monitoring EVE Online's incredible economy
. Scientific American aims to change that with an article entitled "What Can Virtual-World Economists Tell Us about Real-World Economies?" Dr. Guđmundsson lays out the basics of his work for folks unfamiliar with online economies, explaining how the vagaries of spaceflight can effect the price of, say, light drones or mining lasers.
The full impact of playing MMO games on players psyche is still a terra incognita and is worthy of further deliberation at a later time.
Dr. Orzack: I was talking with a patient, a young man, the other day. He was a heavy World of Warcraft player, and I asked him what happens when he plays the game: was he simply playing a virtual character or did he feel like he was actually in the game? He told me when he plays, he is in the game completely. He had become immersed in World of Warcraft and had trouble removing himself from that virtual world. I also asked what he expected to find each time he turned on the game, and his answer was a sense of belonging. This individual came from a family that was unfortunately breaking up, and World of Warcraft was his way to escape that. This 18-year-old individual was miserable. He didn't get along with any of his family members and kept withdrawing into the game.
Dr. Maressa Orzack
Researchers at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Dublin presented a study showing that video game addicts have similar personality traits to those with Aspergers
(a high functioning form of autism). The study of 391 gamers (86% male) found that players who showed signs of "addiction" had three personality traits that are typically linked with Aspergers: neuroticism, lack of extroversion and agreeableness.
Recent research has shown that long time MMO players tend to exhibit a change in their personalities after a few years, for an example they become bitter, pessimistic and aggressive. In another research their brain scans show patterns similar to patients who suffer from high functioning autism. Actually, many WoW players exhibit patterns of high functioning autists, they repeat the same action for thousands of times, seemingly oblivious to the real world :)
MMO games today are filled with various archetypes (character classes are typical examples of archetypes; warrior, mage, rogue, priest, also the concept of level up, killing dragons and snakes), knowing how powerful archetypes are, no-one can say for certain what goes on in players minds as they play these games. Jung uses information derived from his patients dreams (archetypes) to change the way they (the patients) perceive reality. He transcends the rationality of the ego structure to achieve individuation. Therefore tapping by a trained professions into archetypes can heal neurosis, but can it also CAUSE them if the "therapy" is being conducted by untrained greedy game developers who have never even heard of archetypes? Please look up additional information about archetypes to learn how it is possible for the developers to use the archetypes without knowing what they are.
Awful MMO Lesson #2; please, don't go alone, you will DIE!
In WoW, solo content is almost non existent, 5 man rewards are far better than ANY solo rewards, 10 man rewards >> 5 man rewards, 20 man rewards >> 10 man rewards and so forth. In the end it is a requirement to belong to a large (large also means successful) guild. If you don't belong to a guild all you will ever get to play is killing the bird-people. In EVE online if you don't belong to a 0.0 corporation, your options are very limited and so is the fun you may expect from the game.
Belonging to a guild also brings about additional tasks. In the end the act of controlling and maintaining a guild takes more time than playing the game itself. All individualism is being melted by force into one mass consciousness. This is contrary to natural development of the psyche. Its is completely OK to belong to a personality type that wishes to play alone. This is something that Blizzard STRONGLY discourages. The psycho-emotional drama and other content deriving from player interaction which serve as additional player created game time (side effect of guild membership) is the #1 contributing factor to making WoW addiction STRONGER and more resistant to dissipation over time.
Social circles in EVE are by far less tightly knitted, EVE allows for individualism, actually 80% of game time in EVE is building up resources and managing your ships, the last 20% is when you finally group up to form a fleet of ships for PvP. Individualism is possible because players are not completely dependent on their guild to provide them with the good "loot", in EVE anyone can manufacture their own "epics", CCP does not twist your arm into "guilding up" in order to progress in the game.
The God is dead, long live Ana Key! (individual vs. collective)
Descent into pure collectivism is not a good thing as seen in Nazi Germany.
Nazi Germany demonstrated, par excellence, what can happen when the demonic forces of the collective unconscious are unleashed.
How could a nation, which was one of the leaders of the Enlightenment only a couple of centuries earlier, descend into such darkness as that which created the Holocaust? The question is not purely a historical one that applies only to Germany fifty years ago. It is also a psychological one that applies to us now, here in America, and in the rest of the world. It is a question about the human condition.
The most common explanation put forth for the rise of Nazism is that the Germans were gripped by a collective inferiority complex. They had lost the First World War, were humiliated by a punitive Versailles Treaty, and were suffering under oppressive conditions of unemployment and poverty during the Depression.
From "The Eruption of the Shadow in Nazi Germany" by
This article was published in Psychological Perspectives (Issue 37, 1998)
The reactions to this sense of oppression had the basic features of adolescent rebellion, and some of these were more extreme than others: self-aggrandizement, lofty idealism, delirious passion, megalomania, rage, and violence.
From "The Eruption of the Shadow in Nazi Germany" by
This article was published in Psychological Perspectives (Issue 37, 1998)
But what were the gods, and what does their disappearance signify?
The human psyche needed—and one may argue, still needs—the mythopoetic imagination to mediate these unbearable and incomprehensible forces. It is easier to have a relationship to a "god" than to an impersonal "force." The gods carried our worst fears of the unknown—indeed, they carried the unknown itself. By relating to the gods through homage and ritual, the ancients were able to relate to their own fears, thereby better enduring the mysterious forces of the unknown.
Jung felt, meant that the primitive, irrational side of the psyche was repressed into the unconscious. It was only a matter of time before this reign of rationality led to Nietzsche's claim that "God is dead," and finally to a Godless Germany. And, as Dostoevsky said, without God, anything is permissible. The primitive, irrational side was thus left no choice but to break in through the back door-and it did so with a vengeance.
From "The Eruption of the Shadow in Nazi Germany" by
This article was published in Psychological Perspectives (Issue 37, 1998)
Human psyche NEEDS a concept of higher meaning, of sense and purpose, we cant seem to function normally if this concept is not present. If we feel that there is no higher purpose (no God) we inevitably regress into disorder. What this means is that the majority of players participating in various MMO games simply cant prevent themselves from exhibiting patterns of behavior described above in Q#2. This is totally understandable. Players bring their real life problems to the game as they wish to lessen their impact by playing the game. Unfortunately they end up projecting their primitive irrational side into their avatars (exposed, excited and "charged up" by "every day problems") and they do this without thinking of the moral implications (they know there will be no punishment).
Many have noticed this fact, and reactions are varied. There is a group of people who see themselves as saviors of the poor game-addicted geeks who ruin their pitiful lives by playing stupid Internet games.
By destroying virtual worlds they will set the geeks free. Actually, they reckon that by harassing others they are doing them good. Here is one of them describing Second Life:
Now strictly speaking, this isn't a lie. However, it ignores the fact that Second Life also consists of furry strip clubs and people having hot virtual sex. When I explain Second Life to people, I tell them this:
Take someone and deprive them of any sort of "real" social contact.
Give them the ability to script any program, animate any action, or build any object through intuitive processes.
Allow them to own their creations, and to sell them to the highest bidder.
Have you got your head wrapped around that? Okay. Now make the person in question the psychotic neighborhood kid who slashes holes in the back of the schoolbus with his Swiss Army knife, and you will begin to realize the Lovecraftian horror of Second Life.
Of course this may in fact be true, MMO players do indeed tend to be weird, but who is to be blamed?
Are cigarette smokers to be blamed for their addiction? Drug users? Gamblers? Or is it also a problem of tobacco companies intentionally selling addiction boosting products? The reason why some people destroy their lives over MMOs is because these games are intentionally made to be addictive.
We have highly organized groups of people ("greengeekpeace" of MMOs) actively disrupting normal game play in almost every MMO known to man. They have people ruining Second Life.
The Patriotic Nigras
consist of some 150 shadowy individuals who, in the words of their official slogan, have been “ruining your Second Life since 2006.”
They have people ruining EVE Online.
“EVE was designed to be a cold, hard, unforgiving world,” explains EVE producer Sígurlina Ingvarsdóttir. It’s this attitude that has made EVE uniquely congenial for Goons.
“The ability to inflict that huge amount of actual, real-life damage on someone is amazingly satisfying” says Houston. “The way that you win in EVE is you basically make life so miserable for someone else that they actually quit the game and don’t come back.”
And the only way to make someone that miserable is to destroy whatever virtual thing they’ve sunk the most real time, real money, and, above all, real emotion into. Find the player who’s flying the biggest, baddest spaceship and paid for it with the proceeds of hundreds of hours mining asteroids, then blow that spaceship up. “That’s his life investment right there,” Houston says.
The Goons, on the other hand, fly cheap little frigates into battle, get blown up, go grab another ship, and jump back into the fight. Their motto: “We choke the guns of our enemies with our corpses.” Some other players consider the tactic a less-than-sporting end run around a fair fight, still others call it an outright technical exploit, designed to lag the server so the enemy can’t move in reinforcements.
And they have people ruining some other games too.
It was mid-2004, and Goons were already an organized presence in online games, making a name for themselves as formidable players as well as flamboyantly creative griefers. The Goon Squad guilds in games like Dark Age of Camelot and Star Wars: Galaxies had been active for several years. In World of Warcraft, the legendary Goons of the Mal'ganis server had figured out a way to slay the revered nonplayer character that rules their in-game faction — an achievement tantamount to killing your own team mascot.
Where does all this terrible and limitless destruction come from? If you do some research into this phenomenon you will notice one common denominator, abusers (one and all) think of the "furries", "carebears", "geeks" as lesser, inferior beings. Because of their inferiority they have every right to either cure them of their inferiority or destroy them. Goons/Something Awful/Patriotic Nigras have obviously noticed how many players enter virtual worlds to play out their deep seated psycho-emotional traumas and so they direct their own deep seated psycho-emotional traumas ("takes one to know one", also know as "projection") on to those players. What they don't seem to notice is that they are spending every bit (if not more) of time and money to beat the geeks on geek home turf.
Who is a bigger fool? a fool or the one who follows him? If you want to protest against playing MMOs, lead by example and don't play them.
In Nazi Germany, Germans of the time were suffering from collective inferiority complex and so they built up a lot of negative subconscious energy. Eventually all this energy exploded and because Germans weren't influenced by Christianity for long enough for it to influence their collective subconsciousness it exploded into Wotanism. All of the long repressed energy (aggressive energy) got filtered through their specific set collective national archetypes which was Nordic god Wotan (more on this in #B2).
Wotan is a god in the form of a person (like the Greek and Roman gods) and the chief deity of the early Germanic Teutonic tribes. He is the same being as the Viking god Odin, for the Vikings were also descended from the Teutones. He shares much in common with Dionysus and was transformed by Christian missionaries into the devil. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung wrote, "he is an important god-a Mercury or Hermes, as the Romans correctly realized, a nature spirit who returned to life again in the Merlin of the Grail legend and became, as the spiritus Mercurialis, the sought-after arcanum of the alchemists" (p. 313).
Wotan is the lord of warriors, seizing their spirits and making them go berserk in the heat of battle. He guides them to victory, and when they die, he receives them into Walhalla, the hall of the slain. In his 1936 essay on Wotan, Jung described him as "the god of storm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle; moreover he is a superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secrets of an occult nature" (p.182). Considering these attributes, Jung could just as easily have been speaking about Hitler. The Stormtroopers, too, were very much an incarnation of Wotan who roamed the earth as a restless wanderer, creating strife and unrest everywhere he went. His spirit of conquest and turbulence, Jung hypothesized, eventually seized the entire German nation. It is important here to appreciate the notion of a god and the challenge it poses to the modern mind.
The Wotan complex is the spirit of the depersonalized or demythologized god Wotan manifesting in the collective psyche of the German people. Without the person and myth of the god to identify and mediate its force, Wotan appeared invisibly from within as a disease of the mind and soul.
Because the god could not be seen and experienced as a god, the identification occurred entirely on an internal and unconscious level. Because of the high sestibility and infectiousness that exist among the masses, this possessed state of mind spread like a wildfire. Jung describes it as a psychic epidemic and a mass hysteria and psychosis. Being caused by a collective complex, it struck the Germans at the collective level of the psyche rather than the individual level, beneath the ego and the individual personality.
From "The Eruption of the Shadow in Nazi Germany" by
This article was published in Psychological Perspectives (Issue 37, 1998)
Wotan may also be interpreted as an archetype of Hermes, or Set, who was also called Set-An, later Shaitan or nowadays Satan or the light bringer (Lucifer), interesting parallel isn't it? I am not saying that there is such a thing as Satan in MMOs (or anywhere for that matter), not in the catholic sense anyways. Satan in this case is an archetype from the collective consciousness of our civilization which may be projected into the players alter ego in an MMO. For more information on this please consult the work of Carl G. Jung, especially archetypes, personas and the process of individuation. This post is already far too long to include this information in it. Please do consult Jung's work before some catholic vigilante wraps his mind around this and proclaims MMOs an instrument of "T3H DEVIL".
There is no "god" in MMOs (and we are quite sure of this), there is no police, no parents, not a single mechanism of control. As discussed earlier, players enter MMO games bringing with them a lot repressed anger due to "hardships" of every day life.
According to Smith, compulsive gaming may be masking other underlying problems such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
Some of them will want to grief others. Once repressed energies begin to rise to the surface they get filtered through "collective" filters. Individuals who join this "melting pot" may filter their own behavior through such a filter. As evil begets evil, players who get griefed will want to level up in order to take revenge, thus the MMO collective filter turns into a NEGATIVE filter.
In a healthy society, people are able to belong to the collective body without sacrificing their individuality. Empowered individuals are not subjects to the collective filters (positive or negative ones). They willingly chose to participate, or they chose not to participate. Trying to drown individualism opens the collective to a hidden danger of Wotanism.
B2) Pazuzu flies again
A similar story is revealed in the Exorcist II: The heretic. In this movie we learn that when locusts (symbolizing unruly masses) brush their wings this brushing innervates them, makes them aggressive, makes them rise up in the air and once they fly they become an evil plague devouring everything. Scientists are trying to grow a female locust that does not brush its wings, they think that if they are successful in mixing the old population with the new females, these females would stop the innervating brushing (the evil). Every INDIVIDUAL that REFUSES to participate in "evil" stops its spreading.
"Wotanism" may indeed be what is happening in MMOs. More and more players seem to be partaking in obstructive and destructive game play.
There is more and more griefing going on as the time passes, simply because no-one reacts negatively to it. Those players who once comprised the soul of WoW have long since left the game and things that once were "appalling" and "atrocious" have become quite common to WoW. The "soul" of the game got corrupt. This quickly become a sort of a chain reaction that begins to engulf the game, making it an unpleasant game for newcomers.
A nifty example:
Metaphorically speaking, an example what happens to MMOs when they start to die would be putting a rabbit under a glass dome together with lettuce and a burning candle. The lettuce uses toxic CO2 produces by the flame to produce O2 which supports breathing. Once the rabbit eats the lettuce, it will suffocate.
Some players now show signs of neuroticism. There have been several real life deaths , murders and suicides (follow the links, if you will) linked with MMO games (not only WoW) and the lack of individuality and individual responsibility may begin explaining why this happens. Multi-player games it seems can influence certain (susceptible) people in a bad way.
A 20 years old man from New York was arrested in Spokane after driving to a 15 years old girl's house, honked and threatened her in a text message.
The stalker, Joshua R. Stetar, met his victim while playing Halo online (the report didn't specify which sequel) and drove around 2600 miles to her house to stalk her. The girl's parents who were just outside the house when he passed by got his license plate and reported it to the police.
Police traced Joshua to a Spokane motel. After questioning, he was charged with one felony count of stalking. He stayed in jail for eight hours before posting $10,000 bond and getting released.
Blizzard developers are (understandably) oblivious to these phenomena because they simply have no perception of what they have created. They never expected such a huge success and so they couldn't have possibly predicted all the problems that went along with the success. Bullying players into belonging to guild is shortsighted. Sure, they do gain game time and keep players glued to the screen but no-one, not even the players themselves can see that "belong or die" is a bad concept.
B3) MMOs educate gamers how to deal with bullying and mobbing!
Being exposed to negative social experiences makes you learn how to cope with them which is a skill easily transferable to real life. Many of my friends keep stating that having suffered social drama made them able to recognize the same patterns in real life (like mobbing etc.) and they knew how to react. True, some good CAN result from being exposed to other players but we still have to keep in mind that the moving force behind those concept is greed. Blizzard hasn't introduced these elements in the game with an intention to educate. Because of this fact, we know that players are in it without proper guidance or proper structure which would guarantee their safety above all.
B3.1) Learning in a safe environment?
The only positive environment for learning skills and abilities is a safe and friendly environment. The value of learning how to cope with mental/verbal assaults is lost once players are being exposed to genuinely dangerous environment and people. Sure enough, soldiers will best learn how to survive when engaged in an actual battle, but they may also die. This is why their training is carried out in facilities specifically designed for that purpose.
Gamers are not safe in WoW, nor in other MMOs, they will most likely be subjected to the worst of the worst, and some of them will go through rather painful experiences. Now, if this wes conducted in a safe and controlled environment, by trained professionals, it would indeed be a positive learning experience.
WoW, being the largest MMO has the most problems due to slow game master response speed and in general with control over their brainchild. In other MMO games (which have a lot less customers) game master response speed is faster and its easier to moderate the players. Unfortunately, in WoW, gamers are exposed to the pure non-moderated chaos of random social interactions with no-one to look after them but themselves, they are left to their own devices. Personally I would not allow my child to be exposed to such a random and potentially dangerous melting pot comprised of millions of people operating on primordial impulses (as discussed earlier in the text). Call me conservative.
Social groups in MMOs possess all the attributes of real life social groups, along with social needs and wants, psychological needs and wants and also various aberrations. Someone has to deal with all these aspects in every social group, this is why schools have mental health experts as regular staff, this is why large companies also employ mental health experts. Blizzard developers are blind and completely uninterested in the psychological, sociological, emotional, cultural and religious implications of their brainchild. They are simply not fit to parent it.
You cant "host" a social network if it is not:
a) thoroughly moderated and kept under a watchful eye of trained professionals in order to keep children and those of weak mental health from emotional harm (Blizzard cant possibly moderate everything that happens in WoW, CCP has an easier job due to having lesser number of customers)
b) governed by a strict set of rules of conduct(Blizzard takes no interest in this what players do to each other if its outside of the terms described in the overly vague EULA, CCP takes an active role in governing EVE, they even have representatives of the players in the "senate", explained below)
c) punitive towards those who don't follow the rules of conduct (Its not in Blizzards interest to host an overly strict game, because they know that people play MMOs to ESCAPE from control/rules/regulations of real life so Blizzard chooses not to turn them away)
d) able to quickly settle disputes in a just manner by professional arbitration (in game court of law, police) - Blizzard (and not just Blizzard mind you) is unable to address all disputes that happen in their game every second.
EVE Online is light years ahead of WoW in terms of evolution of the genre as they allow players to make decisions about the game:
A new website has popped up to give voice to the candidates for the EVE Online Council of Stellar Management. EVE Online is the first MMO to give its players voice and the ability to freely elect their own representatives. The elections for the CSM will be held on May 5th after which CSM members will head to Iceland for meetings with developers.
Last but not least, here is a list taken from Raph Kosters website:
Lone heroes can’t slay dragons. It takes an army.
People are only good at one thing.
That’s why it takes six people (all doing different jobs) to kill most anything.
You never, ever, ever change jobs. If you want to, you probably need to die.
You can be the best in the world at your job.
But so can everyone else.
And you will all do it exactly the same way.
Intelligent beings who have civilizations and languages of their own are generally evil and should be slain.
Many, if not all, wild creatures are highly aggressive and will attack on sight.
Evil is not redeemable; good is not a choice. Your morals are innate.
Killing is the only real way to gain people’s admiration.
Well, you can make stuff too, but you won’t earn the same kind of admiration.
In fact, there are only two kinds of admiration in the world, and they can be quantified.
Having a hobby will probably reduce your admiration.
All that hoorah about endangered species is like, a total exaggeration. There’s plenty of everything.
You not only can’t go home again, you probably don’t have one.
If you do, it’s mostly to store stuff, not to live in.
You never have people over.
Telepathy is normal.
Staring at someone who is talking the politest thing you can do. Because the only other option is to not look at them at all.
Running past or away from people while you are talking to them is also polite.
If you don’t keep up with the Joneses, you will never see them again. In fact, if you don’t keep up with your friends, you will never see them again either.
There are no children.
Death doesn’t really sting. Nerf, however, is incredibly painful.
There is always a demand for couriers and assassins.
Moving frequently is normal, and never going back to your old stomping grounds again is the way of things.
There are no such things as social progress or technological advancement.
In fact, evil will always be lurking at the edge of the village.
On the other hand, it will never invade.
There are no governments. Thus there are no laws. Instead, there are laws of physics.
There are gods, and they are capricious, and have way way more than ten commandments. Nobody knows how many because everyone clicked past them.
Sports are stupid, because everyone’s body is the same.
Charity is not a virtue; in fact, it’s frequently physically impossible.
You should not associate with those of lower social standing than yourself.
You can’t be in two places at once. But places can be in two places at once.
Parallel universes are obvious.
Walking is stupid.
Actually, in general, taking your time is counterproductive.
The most important thing in the world is slaying something that will be back the next day… before anyone else gets to slay it.
You should probably have entrance and résumé requirements to join your circle of friends.
Hunting is the noblest profession.
I take that back; hunting is only noble until you’re good enough to switch to murder.
Robbing the dead of indigenous cultures is how you make money.
There is no such thing as obesity.
All women are beautiful and all men are either handsome or darkly mysterious.
Somehow, this means that nobody is beautiful and there is no mystery.
There is no need for bras.
People have sex a lot.
People never touch.
They’ve never heard a brand new song.
In fact, inventing is either forbidden or impossible. Sometimes both.
Most people don’t have families.
If they do, they probably don’t have mothers and fathers, only brothers and sisters.
Nobody’s really from here, they just live here.
The tide never washes in and out.
The birds never migrate.
Strawberries are never in season.
Night’s really short.
There is art and beauty in the world, but you can’t be responsible for any of it.
There is no death; there is simply a failure to show up.
Because of this, there is also rarely any mourning.
Thanks for reading all of this!