This thought came to me the other day. Over the past couple of months we have seen a few big franchises release some pretty big things. Bethesda’s Skyrim and BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 spring to mind. It struck me that the gaming community isn’t treating these games as single player games anymore. They may be single player, and you may roll through the storyline by yourself, but the community refuses to play it alone.
“I used to be an adventurer like yourself, but then I took an arrow to the knee.” Where is this line from? Unless you aren’t a gamer or you are and have been living under a rock, the line comes from Skyrim. I love the Elder Scrolls series, but I haven’t purchased Skyrim, and yet knowing the origins of this line is common knowledge. We also know that “Fus Ro Dah” are words of power, that the companions are notoriously oblivious, and that you could even play a Tower Defense style mod inside of the game. Again, I have never played Skyrim. How do I know all this? The community.
Now, I have an active Twitter account and I frequently check my Google Reader’s RSS feeds, and soon after Skyrim released there was a giant influx of information. The line above was quickly turned into a meme and was soon found everywhere… Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, heck probably even Pinterest and other media outlets. Not just that, though, but all updates and articles seemed to all revolve around Skyrim. Everybody was playing it, and not only that, but everybody was playing it and comparing their progress. People were telling others about new areas or secrets, showing off video of impressive feats or tricky encounters, hundreds of status updates invaded social media. Everyone was playing the same game at the same times and letting everyone know what happened. Then, a week or two later, it died down… the articles on Skyrim stopped flowing and status updates started turning back to more mundane topics.
After the lull, another game reared its head… Mass Effect 3. Once more, social media and blogs exploded! Within days of the game’s release, power levelers had completed the game, just in the attempt to be the first to do so so they could help others/brag/etc. Once they did, they let the community know it. Then, complaints started rolling in on how terrible Mass Efect 3’s ending was, and then within a week it became a significant problem, such to the point that BioWare is altering the ending!
So… this looks familiar… where else have we seen memes come from games, powerleveling pros, and having the community come together to voice their displeasure? Not to mention having the producer turn around and alter their product? Oh yeah! MMOs! Pretty much every MMO that has ever come out, too.
In today’s world, whether we are playing a single player game or MMO’s, we’re reaching out more and more for community involvement. Lots of players I know prefer to solo in MMO’s, and thats cool. I’m one of them. They like the community to be there, but they prefer to go it alone. A friend summarized it best this way (and I paraphrase): “Sure, you could rent a movie and watch it by yourself, but I prefer to go to the movies and be around others, experiencing it with them at the same time, even if I’m not there with anyone I know. Its all about the social experience.”
P.S. – By the way, you can find me on Raptr, which is quickly becoming a favorite service of mine.