Monday, May 24, 2010

On MMO's, Attitudes, and Other Crap

I've been inspired. Larisa and her pink pig tails brought to my attention (not the first to do it nor the last) the sentiments of a segment of the gaming population that purport that MMO's are in need of a Cataclysm of it's own, as the current menu items are stagnant and on the verge of plunging into oblivion.

I didn't think leaving a comment would allow me to express all my thoughts that wouldn't have her deleting it due to its length, so I'm saying what I think right here. So listen up.

You can check out the article that got Larisa going, and consequently me as well. There is talk about lack of evolution or innovation. Let me quote Wolfshead here so I get it right:

"The only explanation I can fathom for the lack of evolution in the genre is that Blizzard is purposely withholding all of their innovations for their upcoming next gen MMO..."

Let me get this straight, Blizzard is to blame for thousands of other people not being innovative? That would assume that other game developers are paid by Blizzard to not innovate, not yet anyway. This argument assumes that Blizzard is so powerful they control the budgets and development of the entire industry.

I am lucky enough to live in America, and even more fortunate to live on planet Earth (not that I'd have much of a future on Venus or Mars or something). But in my country and in our world there are many intelligent, ambitious, creative, and innovative people who seek to maximize their talentsa, abilities, and sometimes their profit margins to create competitive products and services. There are a few industries where people are paid to be unproductive, the US Governemnt pays farmers to not farm too much (Don't believe me? Research it yourself and find out that I'm telling the truth).

Sorry, I digress.

MMO industry is not the farming industry, other MMO companies are not paid to not innovate, and to claim that one company holds the strings on the release of all innovation is ridiculous at best.

I haven't been around 11 years, more like 1 and 1/2. I've seen clearly the stangant nature of a new level 80 having to spam run heroics to gear up, day after day after day...but that's not the whole game. It's true that you can't do any/everything you want in a game, all games have rules and limitations and we live and play these games with that foreknowledge. It then is in our hands whether to pursue entertainment in this manner knowing that inherent to any game will be limitations of some sort. Innovation, although limitless, still must find joy within the bounds of certain laws.

As part of Wolfshead's concluding statement he relates the following:

"What I’m going to say will sound trite but it needs to be said: read a book, take up a hobby, plant a real garden, walk a dog, spend some time with your family and friends, seek out the meaning of life. Get some perspective and open your eyes. At least for me, maybe I need to realize that there’s more to this life than looking at a computer screen and hoping for salvation from a virtual world."

If you think it will sound trite it's because it is trite...and unnecessary. One thing I've discovered in my lifetime and experiences is the gross danger in making broad sweeping generalized statements that attempt to explain behavior of masses while completely ignoring individual circumstances.

"Read a book." I've read half a dozen in the last month, how's that for ya?

"Take up a hobby". I've got plenty of those and dedicate myself to them a little bit every week.

"Plant a real garden". I live in Vegas, we're not allowed to use water here.

"Walk a dog." I'd rather kick one, but that's just me.

"Spend some time with your family and friends." I have no friends. Actually, I spend more time with my wife and kids than with myself. I love my family and constantly do stuff with them and love every minute of it.

"Seek out the meaning of life." I'm religious, yes, and guess what...I believe I know what the meaning of life is. I'm working every day to be a better person to achieve that meaning in it's fullness. Check that one off the list as well.

"Get some perspective and open your eyes." This assumes that I have no perspective and am blind to all around me. Broad sweeping generalization here! I've lived in various countries around the world, speak different languages, have been educated in worldly and spiritual matters, am active in politics and strive to view issues from all sides. I am a contradiction to the arguments that Wolfshead has put forth.

I don't seek salvation from a virtual world, and I don't think that anyone else does either. Yet after all this I play WoW. Why? I have my reasons (First, Second, Third). I play it and most of the time I enjoy it. I don't claim to believe that it's the most graphically intense, sociallly pure, or most intelligent game I've ever played. In fact it does not lead the list in any category I can think of. But what it does have is a well-roundedness that I enjoy. It's good at a lot of things, much like myself. Maybe that's what I like about it.

I'm not sure what Wolfshead or any other who agrees with him wants out of a game. Or maybe they realize that video games are more trivial than any other activity life has to offer and therefore it should be avoided at all costs. I sure hope they don't watch TV, I can't think of anything less productive than that.

Oh, and one more thing (less wow related). Here is a quote again from the same article:

"There’s an old saying that goes like this: people get the government they deserve. This same logic applies to MMOs: players get the MMO they deserve because ultimately we vote with our dollars."

"People get the government they deserve." Wow, I mean, wow. This isn't offensive or anything, is it? Let's not mix politics with video games too much, the comparisons aren't fair or accurate and won't do anyone credit to make such comparisons. But given that he went there, so will I (with a bit of sarcasm, so please indulge me).

Here are a list of people that would definately agree with that:

Jews living in Germany during the 20's, 30's and 40's.
Chinese people of today and many generations past under the reign on Communism.
Cubans under the dictatorship of Castro.
Russians under the rule of Stalin.
The people of the old Czechoslovakia who were rounded up and murdered simply because their GOVERNMENT decided that they weren't of sufficient human worth. Yep, this is a good one too.
Yeah, these people most certainly enjoyed having freedom of everything usurped and having mass genocide made upon them. I do not swear, as a personal rule, but if anything would ever make me cry out profanities it would be a statement that attempted to prove that people DESERVE the government they get. This is a gross example of over-generalizing and even worse, outright stupidity and insensitivity.

I would assert that nobody listen to a person who could make a claim without thinking of the consequences of such statement. But it was said, and poorly done so.

Back to the issue of MMO's in general, and WoW in particular. I still enjoy it, mainly becuase I make a point of taking time to do things and play in ways that is fun for me despite what anyone else says about it. It's my life, and this is something, just one thing that I do to have fun. When it stops being fun I'll stop, case closed. Frankly, I don't care much what innovation there is or isn't, I have no expectations so I have no way of being let down. But to say that one company is to blame seems to slight the intelligence, creativity, and spirit of everyone else in the world who is attempting to make a better MMO, a better community, a better place for everyone to play.

Let's give encouragement to those who want to have a better game AND are doing something about it. They are out there and they're working hard (unless, of course, you believe Blizzard is paying them to NOT innovate). Do what you want, don't do what you don't, but don't be trite is all I have say for now.


LarĂ­sa said...

You know... there's a lot of those sayings that we love to use as "truths" when we find it convenient, that are more or less crap when you look closer at them. Such as this thing bout havining the government you deserve. Which is highly over-simplified.

Just a pointer out: I would never delete a comment due to lenght. But Blogger has a character limit, so you'd probably have to publish it in two parts. This said, of course this deserved a post if its own on your blog!

Gronthe said...

@ Larisa: I thought about what I wrote last night and wondered if I took what was actaully a simple argument too far. Then this morning, in an instant, I knew that I was resolved in what I said. We shouldn't be so trite in our comparisons, it's unbecomming the human race to be so.

I'm grateful we can all choose not only what we do but how we feel about it - positive or negative. As I've said before, speaking for myself I'll remain positive about a game I enjoy! Thanks for your visit.

Anonymous said...

Hiya :)

Which are the better and most played mmo and rpg games of the year of 2010 and may be played for this year?
If it is possible inform me what number of players play in mmorpg's plus in case of rpg's tell methe system spec and several web-site where there is rankings of those video games may be specified(same goes for mmorpg to).

Cheers !