I’ve been a member of The Older Gamers for many years now. Recently I returned to them as I started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. A discussion sparked in the main SWTOR that got me to thinking.
You kids get off my lawn!
One of my fellow TOG members was commenting about how when he started playing MMORPG’s with games like Everquest, Asheron’s Call, and Dark Age of Camelot it seemed that what your fellow players thought of you mattered more than it does today. In particular he mentioned some instances of having a chest ninja looted from him while clearing out the defenders, and patienly waiting for a respawn of a quest mob only to have another player try to swoop in and take it from him at the last minute.
He posed the question as to whether the idea of fairplay and being polite to your fellow gamer is dead or not.
Several opionions were voiced about how the targetting of MMO’s to the mass market has led to an abundance of players who got into the MMORPG hobby without learning the rules of ettiquette the rest of us used to take for granted.
I added the following to the discussion.
People don’t like me? … Re-roll!
First, I think a contributing factor to the fact that many players don’t care about their rep anymore is that we’ve dumbed down the levelling curve as well. When I started MMO’s 10 years ago (with Anarchy Online) if you had a max level character, you probably put 6 months or more of hard work into making that happen. It was something to be really proud of to walk around at level cap.
The idea of rolling a new alt to avoid your reputation was PAINFUL. You cared about that character because you’d lived with them for the last half year.
Now when people can power level to cap in 3 or 4 weeks (or faster for the truly extreme), the idea of ditching a character and starting over isn’t a big deal.
Missing the Roleplaying of MMORPGs
Second, when a lot of us started this MMO hobby, we started as roleplayers. In my AO days, I cared about what people thought of Katpaws and Dooley. For the first 2 years I played, I didn’t tell anyone about the person behind the character. I cared about how people viewed my alter ego. It was important to me that people had good opinions of them and I took pride when I would hear about how helpful Dooley was or what a good storyteller Kat was.
A lot of players today are coming from FPS games or single player games on consoles. As most roleplayers know, the player who truly cares about the character they see on the screen is a vanishing portion of the population of a server. When people stop caring about how their in-game persona is viewed, it’s much easier to justify how they play with “It’s just a game”.
In the end, while pondering why the lack of fairplay is occuring is interesting, but there really isn’t very much we as players can do about it. After all the limits of our control are very sharply defined. They begin and end with ourselves. So I guess for us Old Guard folks that remember how things used to be, all we can do is act as examples to our fellow players and hope that maybe by demonstrating another way we can influence others to at least consider their actions.