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Reader Comments (41)

Posted: May 17th 2011 6:42PM Lockisezmode said

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I kind of have to say this article makes me want to re-evaluate my own MMO behavior.

Posted: May 17th 2011 6:59PM Laephis said

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So after a long, hard day at work where I am required to help people constantly, if I decline to help a stranger on the Internet with his quest, somehow I'm "selfish"?

There's a word to describe people who always put their own needs at a lower priority than others, always fixated on the needs of others at the expense of their own: Codependent.

Sometimes I need some time to myself or with my immediate friends. Sorry if that causes you to misuse the word "selfish."

Posted: May 17th 2011 7:06PM Seffrid said

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Taking the initial point in the article (about the player in LoTRO asking for help), the trouble with agreeing to a request to help out on a quest is that for every case where there's a genuine request and it's a simple matter of helping out for a few minutes, chatting a little and then moving on, there are a good many cases where either the guy invites you, you help out and then you find yourself kicked without a word of thanks, or (as happened in LoTRO last time I was asked) you end up on a ridiculously over-demanding quest that you both get continuously wiped on because the guy didn't have the wit to wait until he (and you) were at anything remotely like the right level for the quest, let alone bother to mention that the ordinary mob he needs is camped behind 3 elites who pull together (and which never con less than orange of course).

Most of the time in my experience you aren't even given accurate information as to what is required, and as often as not it turns out that you're not the only person assisting but that his mate won't be along for a few minutes "as he's just had to run an errand for his Mum lol m8".

I'm all for helping out but having been messed about so many times in the past I'm wary of taking on anything now unless it's crystal clear what's involved - and no, a blind invite spammed several times isn't the best way of getting my assistance!

Helping out "on the hoof" is another matter altogether, and many times I'll spot someone in a spot of bother and help out with a heal or extra few blows. "Drive-by" buffs and heals were a wonderful part of the early MMOs but there are few games these days that permit it, sadly.

Posted: May 17th 2011 7:21PM rockman0 said

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I love helping out players, but I admit that there's a selfish agenda behind them, I guess. Whenever I help out someone, they usually add me to their Friend list or whatever, and I've got a pretty good ally to help me whenever I need it.

Posted: May 17th 2011 8:08PM Krelian said

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EQ1 wasn't like that...

Ohhh how i miss you, EverQuest-era.

Posted: May 17th 2011 10:54PM Araxes said

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I agree, it does feel good. It's easy to forget that an MMO is, well, kind of forever. There's not a rush to get everything done -- at least, there doesn't need to be.

However, I do think that sometimes my own hesitancy to "help" someone comes from a fear of the other person being, well, a moron. You know what I mean: the kind that ask for help and then sort of lollygag and /or make you wait on them and/or after you've altered plans and are halfway to a meeting point they say something like "oh hai i hav 2 eat dinner" and log off. I think that's happened in some form more often than I'd like, and so, yes, it's made me selfish in that regard.

Posted: May 17th 2011 11:02PM Haldurson said

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I do try to help others in game, when I can. But you also have to learn that sometimes you just need to say no (and still other times, "Hell No!").

Here's the thing -- I am a very independent person. I hate asking others for help if there is even a possibility of my being able to do something on my own, even when I know I should -- and that's both in rl and in game. When I'm working on a difficult quest, I DO let people in my guild know, in case there's someone else who may need the same quest as I do, but that's mostly out of courtesy.

The problem is that some people learn to take advantage of your generosity -- mostly it's the younger folk (teen, pre-teen) who do that, but not always. You have to draw the line somewhere.
Sometimes it's fun to help others, and you can sometimes make a new friend. Other times, you can learn to resent the person who is wasting your time by asking for help then going afk for long periods of time, etc. Be generous, but not to the point of regret. I used to be generous to the point that I allowed some people to walk all over me. Never again.

In responding to someone who asks for help
1. Generally be courteous and honest. Giving advice costs nothing.
2. Don't say yes if you know you will regret it or may change your mind. 3. If helping the person will take you way off track and cost you, (as it did to me earlier this week), let the person know that -- never pretend that something is 'no problem' if it really isn't.
4. The person who is asking you is trying to save time, but your time is valuable also, and that person should be aware of that.

Posted: May 18th 2011 12:41AM Marz said

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I have had the opposite experience as well.

I meet someone on line for the first time and the first thing they say to me is. "Can you give me some gold?"

I remember one helping out a friend of a friend online. My friend was helping him out and asked me to come along help out too. Next thing I know the person I had helped starts whispering to me every time I come online. "Can you run me through a dungeon?" and if I say I am busy or can't they get mad at me.

I really like helping people, guildies especially. But as bad as "The Selfish" Player is in MMO's the "Needy" Player can become almost like a stalker. Give me gold, run me through a dungeon, give me, give me, give me.

So I still help people out but I can be a bit wary as well.

Posted: May 18th 2011 1:11AM Graill440 said

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You can do a thousand things right and no one will care, do one thing wrong and your remembered forever...."


The moral is, you only need to live with yourself at the end of the day, do not try to please everyone, and above all, mind your own business and do not worry about what other people think.

Interesting you learned what you did in your piece so late in life Justin....(grin)

Posted: May 18th 2011 4:35AM ArcherAvatar said

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Very nice article

However, what you are ascribing to player selfishness is actually design flaws in the game(s).

As several others have pointed out already, many MMOs are *designed* to pit the needs of players against one another... want to harvest a node? You better get there first or someone else will "steal" it from you. Just one of many, many examples.

These are not flaws within the character of the players... they are design flaws in the game itself, consciously or unconsciously placed there by the developers.

As a couple of folks have pointed out, there is a remedy enroute to the weary MMO playing population who are tired of dealing with this sort of poorly thought out gaming... GW2.

If you haven't looked into the numerous "innovations" coming in GW2 you should do yourself a favor and take a look. (WARNING: doing so could potentially destroy any interest you have in current MMOs.)

*sigh*
"Is it GW2 yet?"

Posted: May 18th 2011 5:28AM 111011 said

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I see the point in this article, but I like doing stuff on my own and have very little time to help someone that would be very possibly a moocher for that has been my experience with people I have helped in the past. But I'd really be unhappy if i was forced to group with people in a game just so I could stop being unselfish. I already find playing Aion annoying due to the need to group for instances and elite mobs zones with story quests. If I need to know something I look on Google or Wikis, if I can't fight a certain mob I come back when I am of a higher level or better equipped to do it. I don't see why others can't do the same. So there -.-

Posted: May 18th 2011 5:28AM FrostPaw said

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I like helping people who can be helped.

Posted: May 18th 2011 8:15AM Bramen said

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I will try to be less selfish in MMOs. But it is very hard to put that into practice when months of preparation boil down to a roll or raid spot. But nothing worth while was ever easy.

Posted: May 18th 2011 9:35AM Celtar said

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Our society at large also encourages this selfish outlook by and large anymore. Heck even the military does as much, "Army of One" anyone? Used to be they broke down the individual and taught them to work as a "unit".

Posted: May 18th 2011 10:15AM Budukahn said

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@Celtar

Too damn true. The selfishness seen in MMO's is as much symptom and cause. Western society as a whole is obsessiveness with the glorification and greed of the individual, celebrity, fame, money and all the trappings. As a whole, we worship at the feet of those who are famous or have money, and scornful or even suspicious of those who decided on a path of genuine public service - police, firemen, paramedics, social workers and so on.

Then we have our MMO's, that give the rest of us a taste, a fantasy of power, wealth and influence. Heroes of the realm. Best raid guild on the server. Number one Gladiator. That's all we care about and everyone else who doesn't contribute to our getting their can go hang.

There are a few who buck that trend of course. A few who genuinely want to help and make both real and virtual worlds a little better for their inhabitants, but they have never been numerous and I have never been one of them.

But I will miss them when they're gone.
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Posted: May 18th 2011 12:41PM J Brad Hicks said

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I think you're also under-playing one of the design flaws in the game, in almost every MMO so far: the zero-sum choice between "doing what I logged in to do" and "helping someone else."

Remember, you had only 20 minutes of playtime available to you that evening, and you logged in with the intention of using those 20 minutes to do something in particular. When the other guy asked you for help, he was asking you to do what he wanted instead of doing what you wanted. It would have been different, at least a little bit different, if he'd asked if he could come along and join you for what you were doing, don't you think?

The old-school EQ1 crowd all argue that this is because you had a choice: if your only choice was to do group-related things, you wouldn't have logged in with the expectation of being able to do what you wanted. But that crowd doesn't address the other side of that problem: if you had to do something in a group, you had to set aside 20 minutes or half an hour or an hour just to recruit enough people to do it. And, in your case, that would have meant "not getting to play at all," since that was all the time you had.

Designers are moving in the right direction, by creating things like zone events and public quests and open groups. Now we just need to roll those innovations out across the industry. We also need to better balance the number of choices available, so we don't end up like WAR's public quests did, with (at any given time on any given server) 200 players hoping to find teams across 200 available public quests and trying to figure out why they're always soloing. The industry's learning how to provide something for people to do together, and an easy entry point to do it, including an easy way to figure out where to go to jump in.

The way forward is not to go back to EQ1. The way to go forward is to go forward.

Posted: May 18th 2011 3:03PM Jef Reahard said

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"...these games are designed from the ground up to be focused on personal advancement and loot acquisition. It may be impossible for devs to come up with a third solution -- a lollipop -- without changing how most MMOs currently work."

Exactly.

Very interesting article, and forgive me if I add it to my 'reasons why I dislike themepark design' list, haha.

Posted: May 18th 2011 4:42PM StampyIRL said

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I enjoyed this article.

I'd say there definitely are limits to what I will and will not do for people in an MMO. I used to be generally very helpful until I encountered the gold-begging "can I haz pl0x" crowd back when I played WoW. Those kinds of players probably contribute as much to general selfishness as any dangling carrot design does. Good people who genuinely need help can easily be mistaken for lazy freeloaders since we're becoming more and more used to seeing the latter in our games.

If you're a newbie with a lot of questions, or if you're just a regular player who needs a hand with some tough group content, I'm glad to help out. If you just want me to power-level you and give you free stuff, the answer is, "get stuffed".

Posted: May 19th 2011 3:21PM pixledriven said

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This is the problem with the "Solo friendly" MMO's of today.

I understand why people want to have solo content, I've heard all the arguments, and I agree with most of them. I too have a job and a life outside of game. HOWEVER, there are consequences to everything.

Back in 'the old days' they were different. EQ is probably the best example. You needed a group to do just about ANYTHING. (unless you were a necro). So if you only had 20 minutes available to play - don't even bother logging in.

On the flip side, since you needed companions, being a jerk was counter-productive. Because people would stop grouping with you, and you wouldn't ever advance.

So the game forced us to be nice to each other.

Now, since we can just go play solo, we don't have that social pressure to 'be nice.'

Posted: May 22nd 2011 8:50PM wcarnation said

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Part of what I find continually boring about modern MMOs is how the game's strengths are entirely on co-op and social elements, yet the games are always geared for solo play and instances and support anti-social behaviors.

Call me crazy, but I like having dungeons full of multiple people and multiple groups running around, banding up with other players and working together for a bigger cause and having to work together to solve issues - not to roam around a giant world by myself, do everything by myself, and enter dungeons were I'm the center of the universe.

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