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Shooting in the Dark

MMO Addiction

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After reading OmegaFenix22's post on MMO Immunity, I felt that, as a proudly addicted member of society, I wanted to step forward and offer another point of view.

First of all, don't get the wrong idea. I'm not arguing, or even debating with him. I agree with a lot of what he says. I get days where I look at what I'm playing (Aion at the moment) and say: "Why am I playing this?" Even so, the next day, I'm parking off in front of my PC, prepared for more grind and, in the more exciting moments, Asmo-hunting - a favourite pastime. Usually for revenge

The fact is, I am addicted. Let's face it. Any game that has you spending at least two hours a day doing the same thing over and over and gets me writing massive guides and walk-throughs to introduce newbies and get them past the frustrations of starting something new for the first time probably merits some form of therapy.

Different strokes for different folks, right?

Some people prefer the pace and excitement offered by multi-player FPS - I can see the attraction myself . Others just find they can deal with the long hours of play, the grinding, and incidentally, being murdered by players of the opposing race/faction.

Why is that?

I suspect there are as many points-of-view as there are players of the genre, but I'll run you through my thoughts.

One of the things OmegaFenix pointed out about an FPS is the sense of achievement. I know what he's talking about. Been there. Getting your first kill, getting your first streak, getting into the top 3 scorers for the first time in your regular group of players. It's awesome. And the best thing about an FPS - it comes relatively quickly. And a recent trend in online FPS play was the tracking of scores, the leveling up, rankings, unlocking skills - something that was probably started a while ago, but I think Battlefield 2 perfected the system. It gives you the sense of building up your character - and it earns the Shadowfox Badge of Approval

Of course - what we have there is an element that has been present in the RPG genre from back in the day of pen-and-paper D&D.

One of the things I've liked about RPGs in general is that sense of building your character. And MMOs - certainly Aion takes this to new extremes - allow levels of endless modifications that just aren't present in an FPS. Face it - in an FPS everybody looks the same. There are minor differences based on your class, faction, team, etc - but your ability to modify your character is usually a minimum - and in most cases - non-existent.

However - and keep in mind i'm using Aion as my example - here the possibilities are endless. Body, hair-style and colour, height, eye-color, -shape, -size, face - everything can be tweaked. For myself, creating my character can take up to 30 minutes. And why not. I'm going to spend hundreds of hours playing with it.

Once you're in the game, that character becomes an online representation of you. Or, from another point of view, your child. Your alter-ego. You can be anyone you want to be. Merciless bringer of death and destruction, or saviour and healer, supporter or silent hunter. The possibilities are endless.

In groups, are you the chatty joker, or are you the silent, efficient machine, issuing instructions. Are you the leader or the follower? Are you central to the team's success, or are you merely there as the addition, tagging along for the experience.

I tend to be the chatty one and I hate leading. On the other hand, I also regard myself as central to the group - I have plenty of experience and I'm pleased to offer what tactical insight I have to any situation that demands it.

Using the parent-child analogy - you are certainly in charge of "raising", if you will, that character. How you interact with your groups, with other people in your servers will certainly stick in the minds of some. You can become well-known on your server - someone in demand. Or someone reviled and hated. As with any community, your actions and communication has its repercussions and rewards.

And the sense of achievement comes into play as well ... Ascending your first character and getting your wings, for instance, brings its own little rush of excitement and joy. Leveling up, gaining that new skill, getting that elite piece of armour you've been wanting. Joining hunting parties to find that Asmo that just ganked someone a short distance away - baying for blood.

It's all there. And you have to work for it. At later levels, just hitting the next level is an achievement in itself. And it is usually at this point where the adrenaline junkies lose patience with the game. Which I can certainly understand. Again, it just points to the base difference between people, which is great. If we were all the same, it would be boring

A point OmegaFenix makes, and which I certainly agree with, is about the level of repetitiveness. Do this, collect that, bring back and get something nifty in return. It's a sad fact, but MMOs by their very nature are locked in the endless cycle of repeats - and by myself I don't see a way clear.

Personally, I think everyone should try an MMO at least once. Don't let the haters dissuade you, and don't let the junkies persuade you. Get one (free, preferably - if you buy and end up not enjoying it you've wasted money), play it, and make up your own mind.

I believe I'm pretty fortunate in that I enjoy both FPS and MMO equally - giving me the freedom to enjoy whichever one I'm most in the mood for. But I am, and probably will remain an MMO addict for years to come.

Bring on Guildwars 2
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MMOs , Opinion


  1. OmegaFenix's Avatar
    Nice read, nice seeing things from the opposite side of the coin.

    In my next piece I'll give my opinion of how a MMO could be with out the grind.
  2. kerbyross's Avatar
    Good job.
    Now if only i can teach my girlfriend to play World Of Warcraft with me...

    Im an addict :S
  3. xyber's Avatar
    Talking about grind, isn't doing the same thing over and over in an FPS just the same then? Like capture the same flag over and over again.

    And talking about addiction, what else would you be doing with that time? Watch TV?
    I got nothing better to do, so I play this or that game, I am not addicted. If something comes up, I'm not like - no, I can't, I HAVE to play this now. If I go without Rift (the game I play now) for a year, I won't miss it, but do not tell me I'm an addict if I prefer using it as an entertainment medium every night.

    I guess there are people who are truly addicted and eat and sleep whatever game they are addicted to, but again, it is such a fine line. Would you call someone who eats and sleep guitar playing or drums or paintball an addict?