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Reader Comments (41)

Posted: May 17th 2011 3:08PM Carefulwiththatpoptart said

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It's amazing how many people love MMOs and hate the people that play them.

Posted: May 17th 2011 3:29PM Pewpdaddy said

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In my case I do try to help when it suites me. However there's been more than one occasion where I've run the so called "newb" around showing them where this or that is, only to find out it's some half wit who knows good and well where all the places are I've shown him/her.

The anonymity of the internet lets people be themselves, love it or leave it. You do have to consciously decide what type person you'd like to be online or off, but thats a life lesson in and of itself.

Posted: May 17th 2011 3:31PM Pewpdaddy said

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@Pewpdaddy
EDIT BUTTON!!!!!

suits* =]
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Posted: May 17th 2011 3:31PM (Unverified) said

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I've found it pretty easy to find guilds filled with kind, helpful people in MMO's. I agree tho, that there is a strange dynamic in games; you are definitely rewarded for being a selfish player when solo (tag the kills, grab the goods, level faster.) On the other hand, most MMO's encourage grouping, which fosters collaboration and co-operation. Selfishness is definitely punished there - get a rep as a "loot ninja" or trash-talker, and not many will want to group with you.

In "Reality is Broken" Jane McGonigal argues very persuasively that MMO's are creating a league of champion collaborators - people who have honed their skills of joining a group, quickly learning how to work together, and achieving their goals together. Hopefully she is correct, and the positive values of co-operative grouping outweigh the negative prods toward solo selfishness.

For myself, most of the time I am a generous and helpful player, but I admit that now and then I rationalize away some selfishness, always to be hounded later by guilt ( Faeblight player who I looted a coin bag from altho you were there first, I apoligize! ) After all, we are playing MMO's because we want to interact with others - most of us value those interactions.

Posted: May 17th 2011 3:36PM Borick said

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@(Unverified) MMOs create leagues of champion collaborators in the same way that team sports create leagues of champion collaborators.

Whether those champions are social or just another exclusive elite club is a matter of sportsmanship. Whether they're of any actual value is measured by how much they give back to the game.

My worst behavior came when I was playing as a rational, self-interested entity. My best came whenever I helped someone who needed it.

Wonderful article, Justin.
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Posted: May 17th 2011 3:39PM (Unverified) said

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Hear hear!!

I too have found myself being far more selfish in MMO's than I used to be. I remember the early days of Vanilla WoW when I would hang out in lower level areas and helped new players just for fun, or ran players all the way from Teldrasil to Ironforge just so that they could have a different starting experience with their Nelf. Now a days I find myself far more self-involved and less helpful, and that in a way has killed much of the joy that I used to get out of the social aspect of MMO's. The fact is that in-game incentive is almost non-existent.
Some titles are trying, tho. Take a look at Fiesta, they have a mentor system that rewards both the lowbie and the vet.

Anyway, love these soapboxes.

-X

Posted: May 17th 2011 3:59PM Germaximus said

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I've done the same exact thing telling someone no and then seconds later saying ok. For some reason i feel guilty not helping people, especially in a game that i know "like the back of my hand."

We cant always help tho, we wont always be in the mood or have the time, its just the way it is.

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:03PM (Unverified) said

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Just dont interupt my dailies! :P

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:04PM SpittleGauze said

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This is the best article I've seen on Massively in a long time. I came to the same realization a long time ago. Since then I try to help people whenever I can. Or at least comfort the people who get cursed at and told to wiki/Google their question....

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:11PM urgan said

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AUGH. Don't tease me like that. For a moment I thought there was news about the Emperor's New Groove :(

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:11PM Angn said

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Playing the game in the way you enjoy it is the ideal example of selfishness.

Do you make a point of sacrificing your time to help anyone who asks for it, even if they're jerks? Then you can truly claim to be selfless -- though I for one see absolutely no merit to that claim. There is no "I" in selflessness.

To claim that MMOs condition you to be selfish (in your sense of the word), especially LOTRO, would be a gross misrepresentation. No one is forcing you to complete quests in any particular amount of time. The character of competition that a player wishes to engage in is entirely up to him.

If you've struck a balance between your personal progression and helping others, more power to you. That is all well and good, and I pronounce you a healthy and selfish individual. But wanting others to heave to your standard of values without regard for their individual circumstances is unreasonable and ultimately selfless. Everyone has a life, and everyone has it differently.

Posted: May 17th 2011 7:46PM Meagen said

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@Angn I pretty much disagree with everything you said, but I'm going to be selfless and not argue with you. :)
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Posted: May 17th 2011 4:19PM Seldra said

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I used to enjoy helping people, in fact that's how I met some great people that enriched my gaming experience online. Unfortunately these days, some people take advantage of that, and some even simply trick you into helping them and it ends up being a scam or a trap.

It's this kind of nonsense that's sadly put me off on helping others, at least until I get a good gauge of the person. I won't immediately offer help anymore, I observe and see if they're actually legit. Truly a sad state of affairs if you ask me.

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:21PM C Rose said

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Yeah I've caught myself being reclusive at times in an MMO. Then I think to myself if I'm going to act like that to a decent person's request, why not just play a regular single-player RPG?

But it's also human nature to want to "escape" from the real world and enjoy your virtual world privately at times. So I don't get to hard on myself but still try to convince myself to go help that little bugger do their quest! :)

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:30PM Enikuo said

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I think the developers could help the situation by giving players better tools for managing social relationships in the game. They let you chat and join guilds in most of these games, and that's about it. They don't give you ways to organize your friend's list, add notes to your friends, see a log of people you've partied with recently, find the player on alternate characters, etc. Your only two choices seem to be a blind date (help the stranger you will never see again) or marriage (join their guild or invite them to yours).

Further, these games do precious little to help you find and play with like-minded players. You have to rely on forums and in-game chats to find a guild. Then, you have to trust that whatever they say about themselves is actually true and not simply a wish list.

Wouldn't it be much nicer if you could search for people based on the activities they were actually participating in? And, what if you could belong to multiple groups with distinct charters, so that you didn't have to choose between one-size-fits all guild or complete strangers?

I've met a lot of really helpful people in games and think a lot more people would be helpful, if they were rewarded with a richer social network for their efforts. Being nice for the sake of it is great, but it is a game, which people are playing for the selfish purpose of entertainment. If they want to be helpful for the sake of being helpful, they probably do that in other areas of life - like church, the local shelter, and so on.

Posted: May 18th 2011 1:19PM Djinn said

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@Enikuo

I completely agree. Great points.
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Posted: May 17th 2011 4:51PM (Unverified) said

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I'll help people out but I won't go out of my to do it. It is ok to be selfish in life sometimes guys and gals.

Posted: May 17th 2011 4:59PM DarkWalker said

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In my case, I tend to help as long as:

- The player seems to legitimately need help. If it looks like whoever is asking help is just being lazy, I will just point one or two bits of info that might help them, together with where he can find more info, and be on my way.
- I have the time for it. Given that a large part of my play time is in 30-minutes chunks, I often legitimately don't have enough time to help.
- The travel time needed is not long. I HATE travel time, so I won't spend more than 5 minutes of travel time to help a stranger. My rule of thumb is that, if I wouldn't be willing to travel that much to help myself, I will not do so to help strangers.

I do agree that MMOs nowadays tend to reward selfishness; more so when group loot systems incentive players to be jerks and "need" on gear they don't really need. This is why I really prefer when loot is individual, with no competition inside the group at all; less chance for drama, no incentive to ninja-loot because it's simply not possible.

On the other hand, I really don't like when game developers assume that forcing groups beyond a certain point in their games is the way to teach players to cooperate. If I get to a point the only way to progress further is by grouping, and I haven't yet found a group of players I want to play together with, I will not go looking for other players. If there is no mechanism to automatically put me into a group (or if the groups assembled by said mechanism don't seem to be viable), I will simply change games.

I really don't like to depend on other players. For example, the main reason I'm usually an alt-holic is because I want to be self sufficient in any MMO's crafting system. If I can't be self-sufficient, I will simply disregard crafting at all, treating the game as if it didn't have any crafting system. The same with grouping; if I have to ask for other players to group with me in order to clear some content, I will usually simply not clear it, and treat the game as if that content didn't exist at all.

It's not a dislike for group play. In WoW, from right after the current LFD was implemented up to Cataclysm's launch, I would often spend a couple hours every day just chain running heroics, often offering to try for any achiev the rest of the group wanted to do (lost count of the times we wiped in a few of those :). If I can get into groups without feeling like I have to ask favors of other players to do it, I will gladly do so. If I have to ask in order to get into groups, I stick to solo play or, if solo play is not rewarding enough, change games.

Posted: May 17th 2011 5:33PM Ordegar said

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This is one of the ways that I think ArenaNet will change the genre with Guild Wars 2. A main focus of their development is to make the game more social by eliminating things like mob-tagging, kill-stealing, etc.

One of my favorite mmos was Lord of the Rings Online, which has a lot of social/grouping tools, including one of the best LFG interfaces in any game, and built-in voice chat. Yet how many times have I found myself refusing to help someone because "I already did that quest", or "I'm two steps ahead of you in that quest chain".

Guild Wars 2 is eliminating that by basically making almost all of the content social-able; so even if you randomly help someone you won't take his or her xp or loot even if you happened to hit the mob first; if you help someone do an event you will also get rewards even if you've done it before, so no more being in a different part of a quest chain.

Now another thing that always happens is when a member of my kinship (lotro for guild) wants help, but he's 30 levels below me. If I help him, not only do I not get anything from doing content trivial to my level, he doesn't get any xp from any kills either.

In GW2, when you do content below your level you automatically scale down to an appropriate level and get rewards appropriate to your actual level, so helping a lower level guild-mate will in fact benefit you as well.

Basically, the way I see it is that GW2 is trying to get rid of the penalties of grouping or helping others, and instead making sure you benefit from it. They have thought this through very well from what I can tell, and I can hardly wait for the game.

Posted: May 17th 2011 5:56PM Lorderan said

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I remember a time tanking in a Heroic in WoW. Had a pretty good group no griefing, but the warlock running with us was doing absolutely woeful DPS. Had a quick look at his talents and was all over the place. I was feeling generous and luckily he/she was on my server. So after the run I asked them how they were doing and whether they wanted some help with their talents and method. They agreed. I logged onto my Warlock and spent the next hour helping them changing their talent tree and working they're rotation. Increased their dps by about 300%. The guy was absolutely thrilled. People bitch about how bad some people can be in MMO's, but the only way of fighting those shits is to ignore everyone who is a tool and within reason always help out a newbie. Trust me you'll feel good about it, and you help make the MMO a nicer place.

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