Who is a True MMO Gamer?

Lord of the Rings Online, concert, Sting

This post was set off by the one, the only Ravanel, on her post based on Lonegun’s post about who, and who is not, playing MMO’s correctly, based off a Massively article by Beau. Got it? Good.

Beau’s article, in a nutshell, focused on the recent decisions to offer max level characters to new players of TERA and Everquest 2, and he loves the idea. Offering them, though, sparked a bit of controversy. You see, because some gamers don’t like the fact that absolutely new players are capable of playing at the highest levels, without having to earn their scars through the leveling process. These players would not be as skilled or know their characters as well as those who have gone through from Level 1.

They are offering these free high-level characters as incentive for players who are fans of playing end-game content, without the arduous process of power-leveling. Lots of players have already taken advantage of this opportunity, and the results have been mixed. Some love it, and feel that now the entire game is accessible to them, instead of just a tiny portion, where others feel that they have been given too many options, and little direction. Getting a free high-level character is similar to eating at The Cheesecake Factory, you see. Suddenly having 20 pages of menu items is a little overwhelming.

Secret World, Hell Fallen

Lonegun think’s the idea is madness. He posits that the process of leveling a character from scratch IS THE WHOLE POINT of playing MMOs. Afterall, these MMOs are created worlds with deep lore and exploration which open up as you progress through the game’s narrative. Without the leveling process, why even play MMOs?

“In my opinion people who are, “bored with the slog of leveling” are not true MMO gamers.” – Lonegun, The Rant: Leveling is a Grind 

I can totally see where he is coming from. I mean, that’s why I play video games. To me, video games are an entertainment media meant to be consumed, just like books, or movies, or TV shows. We give them our time and money, and in return we are told a story. Opposed to the others, though, video games give you the opportunity to interact in the story’s world. In MMOs, the leveling process fleshes out the world, and gives a metric ton of story. After getting through the content, you feel more connected to the world and your character.

Star Trek Online, Borg, Explosion

Ravanel, however, took offense to that. She, on the other hand, sees the leveling process as merely a stepping stone. She wouldn’t pass it up, herself, the first time around, but it’s not the part of the game that she enjoys the most. As like many, she feels that the endgame is the part that derives the best gaming experience.

“What I truly love about MMOs is endgame. The challenge of getting a group together and get the best out of yourself, combined with the comradeship that emerges in a group when doing things together. This is what makes me log in with enthusiasm and keeps me interested in an MMO.” – Ravalation: In Search of the True MMO Gamer 

How can one argue with that? Take a look at the biggest MMOs that have been around for ages and what do you see? A solid, well defined end-game. LotRO, WoW, etc. You get to max level, you grind dungeons for gear, and then you grind raids for the best gear. It’s a template that runs deep in the MMO genre, and you can’t deny that it works as a great mechanism to keep gamers not only playing, but subscribing to play.

“I do not believe we have found the ‘true MMO gamer’ in Lonegun’s leveler, though. In fact, I do not believe either the leveler or the hardcore end gamer necessarily represents the ‘true MMO gamer’.” – Ravalation: In Search of the True MMO Gamer 

Secret World, Filth, Whispering Tide

I believe, though, that I have the answer, and it is much simpler than any of that. MMOs are a great boon to the video game industry. They are games where you can have character progression, player vs player combat, hard challenges, and easy grinds. Games where you can be told an amazing story and tell your own story. Games where you can corner markets, become a notorious pirate, hit the jackpot, form lasting friendships, and experience a world that never stops changing. We play MMOs for all of these reasons. In the biggest entertainment industry in the world, MMOs exemplify why we love gaming to begin with: there is something for everyone.

A True MMO Gamer: Someone who enjoys playing MMOs, no matter the reason.

It truly is that simple.

// Ocho


8 thoughts on “Who is a True MMO Gamer?

  1. Although I agree with the sentiment, it’s still not THAT simple. Sometimes, different elements conflict (cornering markets vs new players struggling to buy things. Buying insta-max level characters vs PvP and balance.) and not everyone can get along perfectly. There must be compromises.


    • Well that’s why the MMO industry isn’t just one game, and new games experiment with different mechanics. Some games, like EvE, are for the more economically competitive, UO is still one of the kings of sandbox PvP, WoW’s strength are it’s dungeons and raids, GW2, on the ability to jump in and jump out. The mechanics, what they offer, what they sell, and what you can do in-game, and whether they’re balanced doesn’t pull away from the fact that we’re all still playing them. 🙂

    • If it isn’t that simple It bloody well should be! MMO developers provide the playing field, players bring the game.

      Mrs Bhagpuss observed today that in WvW in GW2 ANet basically hand out the shirts so we can make teams, provide the pitch to play on and then leave us to get on with it. The more rules they try to impose, the more players make up rules of their own. That’s how PvE should work, too.

  2. This is a really good way to put it. I’ve always felt MMOs are so big, with so many different types of gameplay, that you can enjoy the same game as someone else and yet spend your time doing totally different things.

  3. I’m kind of on the fence with this, honestly. My personal opinion has always been that as long as you aren’t interfering with someone else’s enjoyment of the game, you should be able to do whatever you want to do in a game–after all, it’s entertainment.

    At the same time, there are a couple of drawbacks I see to giving a new player a level-capped character: the multiple options thing is a great point. I can remember some times on WoW when I’ve rolled a max-level shaman on the PTR and been completely overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. That, in turn, means that these players who suddenly have max level characters are going to look like experienced players on the surface but are going to be a bit behind the curve in terms of comfort level with the character. Unfortunately, that means that they could easily get frustrated when trying to play their character and also frustrate others who are relying on them to understand how to play their character and interact with the environment or mechanics.

    Of course, I’ve never played either of these games, I don’t know how much of an issue these things are or what end game is like. In the end, it’s a two-sided coin like anything else, but I don’t think either of these defines a “true MMO gamer.” I think that is a subjective term and everyone is always going to label that by their own standards, and (being honest) using themselves as an example.

  4. I agree that true MMO gameplay involves a journey where your avatar progresses through a virtual world, in pursuit of a large array of potential goals. I just disagree that leveling as it currently stands is the ideal anymore.

    Time and time again we see how it negatively affects the experience in the long. New expansion? Oh, more levels for you! And just to remind you, these levels won’t be any more advanced or epic than the prior ones, they’ll just involve you killing, fetching, poop-sifting, etc. for some new dude you never met before (because his home was previously mysterious, ohhhhh). Great, now new players have to spend even more time before they can really play with their friends, we get more skill and stat bloat to contend with, and I get to be reminded that I have done this same ole grind again and again.

    I AM tired of it. Even if a game like Ultima Online was infinitely grindier, the fact that the game didn’t constantly expand your grinding was fantastic. It was simple for its times and wouldn’t hold today, but I like that sort of experience. I like journeying toward a certain point where my character is mostly realized and then using that realized character to go on great adventures. Those can be dungeons, raids, furniture building, crafting, and even questing!

    In other words, I hate when people conflate grind with journey, bloat and padding with substance, and defend leveling as the be all, end all.

    • That’s why I liked Guild Wars 1. Still is one of my favorites, despite never getting far in it. Max level was 20, and you hit it only a few missions into the game. Essentially, the entire game was end-game and all about the journey. Guild Wars 2 has 80 levels, and I’m REALLY not sure why. They feel like a roadblock, and an unnecessary one at that. Thats why I like TSW. TSW, which has a fantastic journey, isn’t based on levels, it’s based on gear. You need better gear and skill to do well in subsequent zones. I totally agree, leveling is part of a bygone gaming era, like multiple servers, and it needs to go away…. but that doesn’t mean that the journey to reach the highest points should go anywhere. I revel in the journey, I just hate the walls.

  5. Agreed. I’d much rather have an extended tutorial that uniquely introduces me to my class, my race, my world, and the game mechanics, and then leaves me alone afterward. As in GW1, the rest is effectively end-game, but with lots of journeying still to do (gear, story, exploration, etc.). I do believe this is a superior method because it doesn’t force story and content to coincide with a narrow, linear path.

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