Stirring waters

So I was going to comment Tigole’s “defence” on the forums and why I think it’s just PR fluff. But Lum chimed in. And when it happens things go in another direction and change perspective.

The point is that this time I completely disagree because he goes just with the demagoguery to explain that “what people want” is stupid. Okay, we already knew that.

Demagogy is built through commonplaces. Here are some:

You mean MMO players resent any development time and effort put into a playstyle they don’t personally engage in? O RLY?

False. Noone argues with the development till the game is felt as satisfying. Noone complained that Blizzard was developing raid content till the players began to crush against that wall to discover that the game continued in that direction. With or without them.

Noone cares much if there are (more) options available in the game. In fact most people would be glad. If I’m at level 10 and Blizzard announces they are working on a dungeon for level 50s, I’m happy. Because eventually I’ll get there. If Eve-Online devs decide to build superHUGE capital ships that I will never even remotely hope to fly, I’m happy. Because it creates the context of the world. It gives it scope.

People complain when they meet a signpost that BLATANTLY says: “Go that way”. They try and they find a wall they cannot pass. And they start to see their friends with better luck that manage to “get promoted” and join the “fun stuff”. Returning with sparkling loot and laughing at you while you kill your worms to grind the faction. Which is the only option you have left: Go in a corner and feel ashamed of your condition. Enjoy being oucast from that community that you slowly started to enjoy and integrate with through 60 levels. At that point some jump the fence to reach greener pastures, while some bite the dust and are left with the crumbs.

This is WoW’s endgame and this is what the players complain about. It’s not for the demagogic commonplace about “development time and effort put into a playstyle they don’t personally engage in”. It’s about those patterns becoming mandatory and inaccessible. The community moves onward while selecting who can go and who is left behind. And who could eventually join later and who is out for good.

Another commonplace:

You have a player base composed mostly of people for whom this is their first MMO, and definitely the first MMO they’ve reached the endgame in. They want more stuff. They want more stuff like they already played.

They absolutely do not want different stuff. They want stuff like they liked.

False again. The great majority of the players would appreciate some variation in the gameplay.

I’d gladly mix in my playtime some PvP, casual PvE and raid content. But this is EXACTLY what WoW is negating. Because Lum, as everyone else, you are missing the point. It’s again not the availability of options. It’s not about the variance.

It’s instead THE LACK OF THEM.

WoW’s endgame isn’t a scenario where many doors suddenly open to offer you a whole slew of options to choose from. IT’S THE EXACT CONTRARY. These doors shut in your face. Those door that become mandatory become also more and more SELECTIVE.

The game SHRINKS. Till the point that it is so tight that you cannot breath. Till the point where it chokes the fun. Till the point that people start to complain.

WoW’s raiding isn’t criticized because it’s another of the many options available. But because it is the only one and, in particular, because it’s the one THE GAME REWARDS THE MOST.

If the games offer feedback through rewards. If the games are patterns of learning and the feedback is used as a guide. Think about it. Where the game is pointing the players to? Where?

This is why the two player types are now two FACTIONS, one at war with the other. It’s just the consequence of a tension that the design of this game actively built up.

And that’s where some people get REALLY ANGRY. Because they have a lot invested into their characters, their friends and the connections between the two, and they REALLY. DO. NOT. LIKE. BEING. TOLD. NO.

And this is the final point. The players see their friends move on a level they cannot access and are cut out. This is the process of exclusion and this is the original nature of a mmorpg. A concept that goes beyond the “competitiveness”. Because it’s a broader system where the community builds the game and where the game world acquires depth and significance depending on other players.

Of course they are pissed off if they are lured in and if they can only stare when their friends move on and kiss them goodbye. They aren’t needed anymore. They are out.

This is the process of a culture. This is what a culture builds. This is the “mass market” and its effect on the people. The need to belong and be there. The need to share something and don’t feel different. The need to “succeed” in the same way they see their friends succeeding.

If you forbid this process, you build up a tension that sooner or later will explode. A tension that didn’t explode before only because mmorpgs have been considered “catass” by definition till today. From level 1 to whatever.

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