So here’s a topic I haven’t really touched in a while: MMOs. What? That’s all I talk about? Nonsense! I simply don’t tend to post other things on here!
As a busy student, I really do not have time to dedicate to MMOs anymore. Lately, I have just been focusing on time-killer games on the PSP or elsewhere. A few days ago, my room mate asked me why I bother with MMOs. While they too were a gamer, they simply could not understand my fascination with MMOs compared to other games such as first person shooters. Their rationale was that in MMOs, becoming “better” consists more of leveling/grinding rather than actually improving one’s skill. Thus, it is not easy to tell just how much one is getting “better” at the game.
While I believe this a valid point, I also believe this argument to be a narrow one. If you think of a game like Bioshock or Half-life 2, can you honestly say you are getting “better” at the game? What I mean is, isn’t fighting splicer after splicer or combine after combine “grinding” in itself? Sure there are no experience points or numbers, but isn’t picking up a new weapon or something the equivalent of leveling up?
Ok so maybe it is a little difficult to juxtapose the two. What I am saying is this: Skill level-wise, it is difficult to judge one’s skill level since in both cases, the character himself is getting stronger– Be it though experience points or new weapons. The real test of skill comes when you go against other people in multiplayer mode or *cough* in PvP in MMOs.
The argument my room mate presented that MMOs don’t let a gamer’s skill increase is thus really too narrow a statement in scope: In any game, the real test of skill level starts when one is faced against human opponents.
MMOs tend to be more tactical oriented, especially since large groups need to have plans for different scenarios against different monsters. While other multiplayer (versus) games require teamwork, the objective is largely to survive and kill the opposing team. Each requires skill… They just require different types of skill.
Perhaps the biggest difference between MMOs and other games (gameplay-wise) is the lack of validation of one’s accomplishments. In most games, you have a score or mission you need to clear in order to gain progress. I’m sure that for a lot of people, such checkpoints are real ego boosters that illustrate how far that they have come. In MMOs, you don’t really get such things, making the grind seem more tedious than it really is. If one requires such validation, they can usually go find a field boss or spawn that they would not beat before and defeat it to see how far they have come, but most people don’t do this solely for that purpose. Perhaps since I am the type of person who rarely needs their ego stroked or who tends to look at many things in a black/white set of rules, I don’t require such validations and can thus enjoy an MMO far more.
Of course, there are various other aspects of an MMO that must be utilized if one truly wants to enjoy it. Too many people try to solo an MMO and go “this sucks!” a few hours later. It’s astonishing how few people understand that the whole point of an MMO is to be social and team up to face challenges. Only when one battles together in a group can one see the skill and tact required to effectively play an MMO.