When I think of gaming communities, one particular community springs to mind above all others:
Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)
This is a huge segment of gaming, with World Of Warcraft alone having 10 million+ subscribers. These games are unique in that they bring thousands or even millions of gamers together, as opposed to the dozens or hundreds in traditional genres. As a way of socialising with friends and new people alike, these games are no doubt terrific. But what about the actual gameplay? I have experienced a couple of these games, and thought they were pretty poor. The goals are the kind of tedious grinding I had hoped we’d have done away with by now, with many quests boiling down to “Kill x amount of y enemy for small reward”, rinse and repeat literally hundreds of times. Forget unique, interesting goals, this is just busy work. The real fun is from how you interact with, help out, or fight against your fellow players.
In theory at least. The problem with playing with other people is that they are people. And not just any people, but anonymous, powerful and knowledgable within their own fake world, immune to repercussions people. This does not encourage friendliness! When playing “Guild Wars”, I created a noble knight as my character. I wore shining armour, had a sword and shield, and used a certain set of sword based skills. Through some quest I was given some basic magic as well, and equipped that. In my mind, I was a “spellsword”, a warrior who could bust out some flaming bolts in an emergency. Awesome, right?
Wrong. At least to other people. “LOL use (insert name of some skill here), only noobs use magic with a warrior!” A common question was “What build are you?”. What is a “build”? It turns out people had sat down with their game manuals and their calculators and their Excel Spreadsheets and worked out, down to multiple decimal places, the optimal damage output for each character and skill type. These numerically optimal skill sets were called “builds”. So, forget creating a character, skills, and equipment to your liking, based on imagination or fun or creativity. No, create a robotic, numerically based character as defined by nerds with formulas. Most people would either ignore me or literally laugh in my face when I said I had no build and didn’t want one. Fun times.
If I sound bitter, that’s because I am. These games had massive potential to be the best, most innovative experiences out there. And they just boil down to boring gameplay that rewards working out maths formulas and endless grinding, more than creativity and having fun. Discovering that the community seems to be the biggest shower of… not nice people… ever, doesn’t help at all. The fact that people are using prebuilt templates in a game about creating your own character boggles my mind. What do these people get out playing? They clearly have no interest in the lore or story of the game, no interest in creating a character by themselves, no interest in having fun. They only seem to care about efficiency. What’s their purpose for playing? Why don’t they go solve maths equations instead, that’s what they’ve managed to reduce these games to anyway…
I can understand this attitude from the very top competitive players, and I can understand that there are nice people to be found out there. But from my experiences, in multiple games of this type, the average community members are just awful. They are as judgemental and close minded as the Catholic Church, as cliqued and stratified as a stereotypical US high school, as smug and self-satisfied as a spoilt child, and as rude and ignorant as every other anonymous forum/chatroom goer. The fact that people PAY to experience this nightmare is something my mind is unable to process. This is where we gamers get the image of basement dwelling, unwashed, socially retarded freaks from! Perhaps I’m just the wrong type of person for these games, and should stick to single player games…