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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 8:10AM Bartlebe said

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As long as you're selective and get involved with a community with similar interests and complimentary personalities, a good community has the power to make an MMO amazing.

The problem is, a lot of modern day MMOs don't require a strong community. Group finders, dungeon finders, companions, solo questing experiences and all sorts of other game design choices don't encourage people to make committed relationships in MMO communities anymore. To much automation and anonymity.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 1:02PM fallwind said

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@Bartlebe " Group finders, dungeon finders, companions, solo questing experiences and all sorts of other game design choices don't encourage people to make committed relationships in MMO communities anymore."

Here's what I don't get.... you see so many people raging against things like LFG tools, but I've yet to see someone use the old form of LFG (namely, spamming local in major cities).

If these things were so horrid, why do you never, ever see anyone revert to the old systems? No one is saying you *can't* use /local to find a group.
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Posted: Mar 14th 2012 1:09PM Bartlebe said

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@fallwind

Convenience is king in the MMO landscape of today. People don't want to have to get involved in a community, look for viable group members or build up a reputation. They want to get in, get their tokens and get out.

All of this convenience comes at a great cost. It creates shallow communities and games where people don't care or need one another.

If you have seriously played any old school MMOs or sandboxes the difference should be crystal clear. Those old MMOs and sandboxes require being part of a community to fully enjoy. That made guild communities and server communities unique, rich and vibrant. The communities created by solo experience, theme park games pales in comparison.
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Posted: Mar 14th 2012 3:05PM hereafter said

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@fallwind

Players trend towards the path of least resistance. If you give them a convenient tool for joining groups, they'll use it. But just because it serves its purpose doesn't mean there aren't side effects. LFG tools are great, but as far as community goes, they seem to disconnect and weaken player relationships.

I wouldn't go so far as to say LFG tools alone are the culprit--because quest/leveling design also affects this greatly--but they're part of it. I think the themepark design paradigm necessitates them, though. Any game with group instances where participation is at the mercy of variables like level, server population, prime play times, and incentives probably needs one.
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Posted: Mar 14th 2012 8:12AM Damn Dirty Ape said

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To be honest, it largely depends on the game. In general I've found most MMO communities are pretty friendly if you know where to look. People give the WoW community a bad rep, but with a huge population comes a huge population of a-holes and d-bags, and people are more likely to remember one person mocking them in a forum than 10 people being friendly to them.

I will say though that as I read the second paragraph it basically screamed 'Eve Online' to me.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 8:18AM EuchridEucrow said

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I think, in my experience, gamers in general SEEM to be condescending douche-bags in general.

However, I have a sneaky suspicion that I am suffering from what I call "bad news" syndrome. What I mean by that is that I, like many I suspect, tend to notice the profusion of "bad" or "negative" news, from broadcast news shows, because that makes up the majority of lead stories and the tendency is to get the idea that the vast majority of news in the world is bad and the world is just filled to the brim with terrible people that do terrible things. But you aren't getting the full picture because the rest of the good or just "mundane" decent things that go on don't get reported on much.

I think this holds true for the perception of how people act in MMO's as well. You tend to notice and retain the toxicity of the few vocal "negatives" more so than the generally more numerous helpful or out of their way nice people.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 12:05PM Space Cobra said

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@EuchridEucrow

Well said. I had a similar convo just yesterday with someone about this in real-world relationships and I was pondering, "Why is it we remember more bad than good?" Is it something instinctual from our distant past, so we know where the mountain lions are and stay alive? (I would think finding easy food and water, which is a good thing, would also be memorable?). I also have a tendency to remember who "done me wrong", but really, even such bad events make good stories after-the-fact in telling them to people.

We all have to stop and appreciate what we have and not get too much into drama/negatives, but even the best of us can forget that from time to time. It's human nature and some folks do exploit it (like the local/national news networks of the USA).
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Posted: Mar 14th 2012 8:53AM majorfalcon00 said

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A good community is a happy medium that directly correlates to difficulty.

I've found through numerous MMO's that the best communities form when there is challenging content available. It requires you to form up groups, work together, and SOCIALIZE!

Easy MMO's are troll farms, and Hardcore MMO's can be brutally nasty to newcomers. There is a happy medium.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 9:49AM Kalex716 said

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I think it really is just a matter of math and statistics. Every single community for any kind of hobbey out there etc. is going to have a small percentage of people on the far end that are a-holes, dictatorial, judgemental, and usually vocal as well.

The bigger the population set, the more exposed to these people you are going to be. The smaller the population set, the easier it is to filter them out and learn who to ignore.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 9:59AM Softserve said

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I differentiate between the "game" community and the "forum" community. Even with my favorite games I can't stand being on the forums for more than a few minutes, yet when I boot up the game most everyone just seems to be running around, interacting and (seemingly?) having fun.

Games are a lot more fun when you don't spend all day talking about them.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 10:32AM doublerainbow said

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At large it might be like one giant inclusive crowd. Yet, that crowd seems divided up into various groups that all have similar gaming and real life attributes. This is where it starts to get exclusive.

Some guilds will purposely exclude certain types of members of a community in order to foster their core values better than others. Other guilds in an MMO (or cross MMO guilds even) tend to be more inclusive of many different types of members, but exclusive in regards to certain activities within the guild.

I think that the answer is honestly that they are both. But, there are also aspects of these games that the community seems to require you learn their norms (and any other applicable subcutural rules) in order to be allowed into them. It is very hard to find a guild that has very patient leaders within it that will teach you all of the intricacies of Heroic dungeons, Normal and Heroic Raids, and top end PvP. Most seem to expect you to know your thing before you even join them. This is however based off of my experiences, but by and large the end game seems to have been claimed by a lot of elitists that would gladly exclude you from what it offers if they deem you unworthy.

In many ways we see a lot of resemblance to how human beings truly are in real life in these games. They fight over who is allowed the most precious of items in a virtual environment. You are expected to work and earn your right to those resources by complying with the values and other norms of the group. If you chose not to do this than you are stuck with PuG's which can get pretty nasty at times. You are allowed to have the substandard gear, but you also are expected to perform in some way that is at least average.

Again though, the best things in game require dedication and seem often excluded by those that feel your are unworthy.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 2:50PM Borick said

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@doublerainbow Are we expected to earn rights?

I live in the United States. Rights here are natural and inalienable, and will remain so.

Interesting view on what you perceive as society, though.
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Posted: Mar 14th 2012 11:50AM Lumin said

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Most games have some sorts of newbie-friendly/help guilds, but once you graduate out of there the community can still be quite exclusive.

I was able to fight my way up the tiers in various guilds when I played WoW, but being a 'latecomer' meant that I never really became a real part of the guilds I was in.

Aion was exclusive as hell. Not going back to that game, ever. Bah.

GW has its fair share of elitists (especially in PvP and high end PvE) but most people on that game seem to be fairly forgiving, provided that you don't run a very unconventional build that has people going "HUH?!"

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 12:23PM Borick said

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An environment that fosters zero-sum competition produces douchebags. There is a limit to how far human animals can progress together under such a model. The best humans shoulder their way to the top and then the whole thing becomes a self-serving pecking order.

At some point perhaps game developers will realize that human beings aren't designed to be their best when competing against each other, but when cooperating for the good of all, but I haven't seen much altruism in MMO gaming since the old EQ days.

Strong communities aren't made by raiding vandals, although they can be held hostage for a time by them.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 3:12PM blackcat7k said

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I agree with some of the above posters. MMOs are a bait and switch in terms of inclusive and exclusive.

The developers make it seem that you can play the way you want to:

You can go any route you want to achieve money, fame, items etc. Then they change it once you get to end game and tell you "What? You don't want to go X route? Then be relegated to the garbage heap of our game!"

"The items will be geared for this ONE route and this ONE play style. No, no. You can do what you want and play what class you want. However, understand that those other routes and classes are TRAPS! If you do them you are in effect wasting your time.

You picked THAT specialization? ROFL! Noob! WTF were you thinking? Did you think you had a CHOICE? Look joker, join the collective way of playing or find another game and stop wasting my damn time."

"Yeah, your a fine guy and all. I like your jokes and enjoy talking to you on Teamspeak.... but seriously. Get the hell in step with the accepted paradigm or GTFO!"

This is a combination of design direction and human interaction that causes the inclusiveness of the early game to devolve into unhealthy forms of exclusiveness at end. Not all the exclusiveness is bad, but a large amount of it that exists in MMOs today is not productive in fostering GROWING communities.

It seems to be counterproductive for developers and publishers to push exclusive design to exclusion of all else. The amount of players won't static forever, and the exclusivity will just cause less new blood to show as word gets around about about the hurdle new players have to accomplish to get to be one of the exclusive crowd at end game.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 3:44PM smartstep said

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Depend on a game and game design.

By desiging game developers also shape it's future community.


Give dps / agrroo / heal meters and a ranking and you're creating e-peen community to some extent (of course other things also matter I am simplifying it for short post sake).

Give interdpendability and give rewards and / or force players to cooperate (does NOT have to mean force grouping - it can be on game crafting ,etc for example) and you're up to inclusive game.

etc, etc

Many things matter of course.


So it depends on a mmropg. One will have mostly exclusive and other mostly inclusive community.

Posted: Mar 14th 2012 11:08PM Yukon Sam said

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I've formed my strongest social ties in games with weak grouping. I like offbeat race/class/skill combinations that may not have a place in a standardized group role environment. I find groups are more willing to be inclusive if the game structure doesn't demand role optimization.

Conversely, in an environment where group content is open and optional, the groups who behave in an exclusionary manner most often are those that have learned role optimization in titles with forced grouping and have difficulty adjusting to a different rule set.

There's nothing wrong with being exclusive. I guess as a mostly solo player, I might be considered the most elitist of them all.

But if you want to build a community that's something more than a virtual warband, there has to be space for people whose primary skills have nothing to do with combat -- people who are creative, social, and willing to think way outside the box.

Posted: Mar 15th 2012 12:33AM Graill440 said

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By far elitist and exclusive, one only has to watch chat or see forum posts and the majority clearly state such ignorance as "evaluations and interviews" before even giving the new person trying an MMO a chance.

Guilds, cliques, circles are all the creations of developers and the mechanics of the game, people found they NEEDED to form guilds or cliques in order to beat what the devs programmed, not play the game the devs created, a big difference.

The want for macros, for damage meters, for gear scores all show the cesspool that guilds create and continue to try and push upon others, and devs quietly work behind the scenes and smile and promote this garbage.

There isnt an MMO out there in which a random party can just join up from all corners of the globe and win or lose, have a blast, it is all rote action business, a sad thing since these games were meant for enjoyment not work as so many of you guild masters say you do on a daily basis...or is that just shit talking too? Laugh.

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