It’s Not You, It’s Me…Or Maybe It IS You…Or Me
I like MMOs, but I’m starting to think that MMOs don’t like me. Not actively despising me, or even caring if I’m around or not, but…maybe it’s time I admit that MMOs are not my genre any more.
I know that many people will say that MMOs are at odds with themselves. They’re constantly “dumbing down” to make soloing easier and removing the need to group from the genre who’s name implies that interacting with others is central to the experience. I admit that this is how I’ve played most of my MMO career, and I have fought for the right to do so whenever challenged. I don’t like having to work by other people’s schedules, and I don’t like forcing other people to work by mine (more the later then the former, mind you). My only recourse, then, is to go it alone, to tackle objectives on my own time so I can play for as long or as little as I like and not have to worry about overstaying my welcome, or having to deal with ass-hats, or even the awkwardness of parting from a stranger when you’re done playing, but they want to forge ahead. Yes, I am sensitive about those kinds of things.
But there’s entire segments of these games that, even if I were to stick them out to the level cap, I’d never get to see. I won’t ever raid. I won’t even get to do most dungeons. PvP is generally right out because if I don’t like to rely or be relied upon, I think that revelation is self-explanatory. But I’m really not group averse. I like groups, when they’re timely, organized, have a clear goal, and aren’t taking the game more seriously then they would, say, an outbreak of Ebola in their neighborhood. I actually find that playing in groups is now more preferred then playing solo. I have found that I spend more time playing a specific title if I have other people to play with. Madness, I know!
My problem is that my friends and I all suffer from GADHD (pronounced ‘gahahhdhaedhed’). We tire easily of a particular title, and since we really only play together on Monday evenings, and then for only about two hours, forming a static group isn’t really in the cards. Normally I’d then think that for all the connections I’ve made via Twitter or G+ that there would be a wealth of worthy candidates for getting a sizable pool of companions assembled, but oddly enough, everyone seems to be playing different games, at different times, and at different speeds. That leaves me to apply to random guilds in the hopes of finding a decent group of players that I could throw in with. But I bet you can see where this is going.
My track record with random guilding is something like 0 – 10. In almost every game I’ve played, I’ve tried to sign up with a guild by trawling the recruitment forums. I gravitate towards the “family friendly” guilds because while most of their posts are cookie-cutter, they’re more or less genuine as advertised. They’ve all ben nice groups of people (for the most part), but the problem I face is that I am perennially an outsider. I am jealous of the people who have been in the same guild for years, and who actually accept and are accepted. I’ve never had that privilege, mainly because of my grouping issues enabled above, but also because of being an outsider. Sure, I volunteer for dungeon runs, boss battles, or general frivolity when I’m able and it’s offered, but I’m not the kind to insert myself into the rapport that these folks have established, and which come to the fore when two or more are gathered in a group (or chat channel). I usually then end up leaving the guild at some point without saying a word, when the fewest members are online, because I really hate the fact that I have no explanation as to why I’m leaving aside from that I don’t feel properly integrated. I have yet to receive a follow-up /tell asking me why I /gquit. I guess in that respect, it’s an amicable parting of the ways.
So when it comes to all the new raids and dungeons and high-level content that’s added with expansions or updates or patches, I think it’s really cool, except that it’s cool content that I’ll never see because I don’t have a support group, or possibly even the capacity to be part of a support group. In light of that understanding, I could only ever play a certain amount of a game (assuming I could get to the level cap), and would then have to quit anyway because while there’s a lot of content out there, none of it would be accessible to me.
So what’s my point, aside from taking the waaaaambulance out to do a few donuts in the snowy parking lot? I guess I’m realizing now that I may have always been doomed to part ways with the genre simply because my station in life has put me on the periphery of the bread and butter of the MMO. I’ve tried to blame the way people thought about them, that being solo-friendly isn’t a bad thing, and that grouping isn’t why everyone plays them. I’m sad to report that yeah, other people are the reason why people play them, or at least they’re the reason people keep playing them. I’ve been doing it all wrong all along, and have been belligerently trying to justify my inability to form connections on the fact that people weren’t seeing the forest for the trees. I guess I never understood it properly from the start, so what the hell have been doing?