Daily Archives: December 23, 2009

Ponder the Social Aspect of MMOs

I got a comment on yesterday’s post that questioned what some would consider one of the primary pillars of the MMO experience:

Dear Wilhelm

I think your overestimating the social significance of MMOs. After many years play as a non-guilder/PUGster, I’ve come to the conclusion that meeting people in MMOs is like going to Kindergarten.

. you make instant friends for the day (and everyone is bubbly)
. you’ll never see them again (they just disappear into the aether)
. you speak like a little kids
. everyone tends to be greedy, but in an innocent way

Its fun, but its not that significant…

Now, I had my own snarky response to this.  I was snarky because I do not think that, in general, I espouse a philosophy on this blog that places emphasis on social interaction.  A recurring theme here is playing with the same four people once a week and rarely getting involved with anybody else in the game.

In fact, yesterday’s post was worth posting because I actually did, grudgingly, go play with some strangers.  I am certainly not the poster boy for socialization.

I did end my response with something that I can sum up by paraphrasing Tom Lehrer:

The social aspect of MMOs are like a sewer; what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

Frankly, when it comes down to it, my experiences are probably more akin to the commenter than not.  But even as somebody who tends to be a solo player in multiplayer games, I have managed to collect a string of friends and acquaintances over the years.

So as a legitimate point of view for an individual, I cannot really fault his statement.  But as a sweeping generalization of the total MMO experience, I just cannot get there.  I know too many people for whom the social aspect is the main draw.  After all, one of the four quadrants of the classic Bartle Test is “Socializer.”

How about you?  How significant do you see the social aspects of MMOs in your view?