2010-04-05

Soloing In MMOs

For the greatest happiness for the most players, games should be designed to neither encourage soloing nor make it impossible.

I fail to see the point in grouping with people that one can barely stand, just for the sake of being in a group. Otherwise, it's a tradeoff between how hard the other people one would group with are to get along with, and how much in the game can be accomplished without a group; everyone makes that tradeoff according to how much or how little they can stand of what kind of behaviour vs. how badly they want to achieve a particular goal in a game.

Some folks are just not worth exposing oneself to if whatever one wants to do can be done later with someone else, or by oneself entirely, or if it can just be skipped. However, that's about the only time that a group wouldn't be welcome to me. I don't want the MMO game to make me and everyone else totally independent. I don't want to skip things, if that can be avoided.

Given that and taking it into account, there are times when the way I want to do things wouldn't suit most groups or schedules, and in those cases I wouldn't expect to find an interested group to go with me, but would still want to go do something. There are all kinds of good or tolerable reasons why, on occasion, I or anyone else might want to solo-- even if those occasions for some of us would be few and far between.

The best point I can make is that there's only one really bad reason to want to solo in an MMORPG, and that has nothing to do with the lack of time or of congenial or competent people to group with, nor with problems of pacing and lack of mutual interest, nor varying appetite for repetition. The bad reason would be that one preferred other people to not be real because, in Real Life, one thought of oneself as the only real person, anyhow. That's a good thumbnail definition of what used to be (very usefully) called a sociopath.

I am sure from how they act that some players who are soloing are doing so very much for that reason-- but not most of them. (Given that most of the heavy soloers I've known were nevertheless in a guild with me, my reckoning could happily be skewed on that point.)

I am happy for any of you who as players have never known anyone that you wished would only solo and never try to go out with a group because he was only able to act as if everyone else 'around' him was a non-person, but I would guess that there are few who have not.

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  • "Wanting to solo" wouldn't include soloing while gold-farming, by the way. People who take that job are almost certainly not doing much of what they want to, and probably are doing a lot of things that most of us wouldn't want to do, because they have to. I am happy for them that they are not in a garment sweatshop, instead, and will save my indignation for the people who buy the gold.
  • Some people-- raised by media in the absence of parents-- 'do' sociopathy as a hobby, just for the lulz. They find many sources.
  • This has been a test of Windows Live Writer. Had this been an actual blog post, um…

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