The Psychology of Playing MMOs

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Kanatatsu:
I've heard a lot of stories about MMOs ruining lives.

I've yet to hear one about an MMO truly enriching someone's life.

I broke my neck a few years back and was immobile for 3 months, the summer after my freshman year of college. Playing WoW was the only way I could socialize. Most of my "real" friends were out living their lives, and the ones that wanted to visit I didn't want to see me like that. With WoW, I could spend a day hanging out with friends and the fact that my body was broken didn't matter for a while. It kept me sane.

<3 MMOs

Pretty the exact samething happened with me in regards to WoW. Scratch that.......100% of your article can apply to WoW and myself. I finally cancelled the account a few months ago. I don't regret the time I spent playing and I'm glad I'm done with it but I still miss it. However, I'm not going back. I figured I might in a year or so but that desire has rapidly diminished. ToR has snagged my curiousity but unless they do a free trial, I'll probably avoid it. Even then I'll be wary as I don't want to get sucked back in like that. Now that I've quit I have a back log of games I want to play.......mostly from steam. Hell, I have a few from Gamersgate I paid for a month ago and haven't even downloaded yet. I don't see myself ever getting back into the MMO scene and if I do, I damn sure will stick with the casual route as it will make giving it up that much easier.

When it comes to subscription fees I avoid them in anything that isn't a damn near necessity. Internet bills that sort of thing etc are fine, but I would never pay to play only a single game more than the standard purchasing price, sure you get a lot of content in sub MMO's but there are hundreds of completely free MMO's which provide a hell of a lot and you could play every single one without cleaning out the bank. Having to pay every month also adds to addiction problems, I played WoW for a few months and felt bad for playing other games because my money was being wasted for every second not playing. I quit after getting that feeling, and after looking back I don't see why I ever paid for that, all of my best MMO times have been on free ones or what I am about to mention below.

Personally I feel they need to go "Freemium" no sub fee, just pay for the game disc and any expansion discs, just like other games. You still get top notch quality paid content but you aren't obligated to constantly get your moneys worth every month and when you are bored you can leave it for a few years. Case in point, I used to play Guild Wars, "freemium" MMO, casually years ago when it released around 2005/6 and I picked up my account again this year and have been playing the shit out of it and loving it. And that is just the perfect business model for MMOs for me.

This also being the reason why I cannot fucking wait for Guild Wars 2 any longer, some fantastic looking content with no fees.

I guess you're just a sucker.

Seriously, though, cut the cord and never play an MMO again. Well, ok, do whatever you want, but I'm not going to touch them. I had a similar thing with WoW so I just avoid all MMOs. I suppose I'll play Diablo 3, but much like D2, I probably won't play online except specifically with friends.

Besides the occasional trial, the only MMO I ever invested time and money in was SW:Galaxies. At the start it was fresh and fun. Eventually, I even convinced a couple of buddies to join up and we all played together. After awhile the experience started to dilute and I wasn't having as much fun, but I continued playing because I had put a good chunk of my meager funds into the game.

Everything changed the morning I got up before work early so that I could check my factories and top up my harvesters, and found a PM waiting for me. It was from a customer of mine, angrily complaining about the delivery time on product he had ordered. I started to write an apologetic message citing a backlog and minimum time requirements, when I realized that I was actually working 2 jobs instead of one. I logged out and never looked back.

tl:dr When it turns from a want to a need, it's no longer a game but a compulsion.

Oh man, I had the exact same thing.
With Maplestory.
Don't look at me like that, all the cool kids were playing it!

Maze1125:

loc978:
City of Heroes started earlier and lasted longer thanks to altaholism, but after thoroughly exploring every powerset and every mission up to issue 16, I took one look at "powerset proliferation", and promptly canceled my subscription.

I'm not sure I quite understand.

Did you quit because you were getting bored anyway, and you found the powerset proliferation too lacklustre to justify your continued subscription, or did you find something about powerset proliferation itself to be a bad thing and so directly cause you to quit? If that latter, what was it?

Either way, CoH is free to play now, your old account should still be there and you'll automatically be a premium member thanks to your past subscription. You might want to give it another try.

I suppose it was more than just powerset proliferation... the game didn't have much for me aside from trying new character builds, and it was getting ridiculous. I pretty much got tired of doing the same old missions over and over to level my latest experiment in powerset and costume piece combinations. Continuing that cycle with Powerset Proliferation would have gotten silly.

Also, I did reactivate when Freedom hit... but it's sort of lost its charm, what with the extremely limited character slots. I've unlocked 5 of my old toons, but it's hard to choose among the remaining 60 or so.

I was the same. It was always about "Your paying monthly for this, why are you wasting time with other games".

I finally quit over a year and half ago but it was the best thing I ever did. WoW was just consuming my gaming life and raiding consistently was taking its toll on me.

I am no longer going to buy another subscription based game or a MMO which I consider to be a grind. I don't want to play for the next set of loot, I want to play for fun.

I love MMOs though, the social aspect is the thing that drew me the most (aside from paying monthly). The only current MMO that has my attention is GW2, and unlike WoW and TOR it will be Buy to Play. No smoothly sub so I can really take my time and play other games around it.

Nasrin:

Kanatatsu:
I've heard a lot of stories about MMOs ruining lives.

I've yet to hear one about an MMO truly enriching someone's life.

I broke my neck a few years back and was immobile for 3 months, the summer after my freshman year of college. Playing WoW was the only way I could socialize. Most of my "real" friends were out living their lives, and the ones that wanted to visit I didn't want to see me like that. With WoW, I could spend a day hanging out with friends and the fact that my body was broken didn't matter for a while. It kept me sane.

<3 MMOs

Uh, your case is really not what I was referring to. Highly atypical, obviously.

I've had similar problems with MMOs, mostly coming from the pay-to-play ones. I too have felt obligated to play simply because I felt that if I didn't, somehow my money and time already invested in the game were going to be wasted.

Free-to-play MMOs didn't have this problem as much, and they actually ended up pushing me away from the genre entirely. Without the monthly subscription convincing me to get my money's worth, the peer pressure to level up my character with whatever guild I was in became more and more annoying.

The problem with the free-to-play MMOs is that they sort of had a lasting effect on me. When I froze my subscription in a pay-to-play, that was it. I didn't have to go back. The fact that FTP didn't have a subscription meant that I could always return to that virtual world, and it haunted me.

MMOs are a very unique genre. They even defy the concept of a video game to an extent.

The money is never an issue for me, it's the time spent that is the problem.

Just cancel you're subscription, I promise you won't be playing it after that, and that will also help the "I'm paying for this...so I want to get my money's worth" feeling. I logged over 600 hours into wow over the summer, got to level 85 on my night elf, disc priest. Got full raid gear, realized how much I'd have to farm firelands trash runs to continue fourth. After that point, many alts that got to lvl 80+, my 3 months of subscription ran out. I just didn't renew it, because I didn't want to feel obligated to playing it for a bit.

I plan on doing the same when my SW:TOR free month wears out. Go and play some shooters that I bought during the steam sales, play games that won't drain my funds. But when I get the desire to play an MMO for a bit, I'll drop a month for rift or SW:TOR and play it till I'm tired of it again.

Seems to work pretty efficiently for me.

That was about on point, I'd say. Personally, I never ran into that problem with any of those games. I stopped playing them the moment they stopped being fun. Although I blew about 800 dollars in total on a subscription to City of Heroes over the years, I never grinded and I never felt like the game was work.
I played it because it was fun, and I enjoyed it. Although I do feel that you ignore other games when you are paying a subscription because you feel like if you aren't using it, you are losing it. In the end though, its really not that much money. More people piss away money on gym memberships they don't use.

I can only comment as an observer. Never got into MMO's (despite my brothers egging me on at times) because I didn't really like the feel of the game as a whole. Raiding, for example, didn't appeal to me at all for the same reason I hate team games in class; if I fuck up, I should deal with the consequences. For this reason, I always stuck mainly to playing FPS' online, Halo, Call of Duty, Bad Company 2: Even if you were on a team, you weren't expected to coordinate too much, and unless you were doing absolutely awful, you were overall a positive force for the team, and besides, I always gravitated to sniping, so I was a loner anyway.

So, again, I comment as an observer. My brothers play WoW (and not TOR); my brothers' roommates play WoW. Just twenty feet above me, 5 guys are probably playing an MMO (some WoW, some TOR, some others I don't know). I don't know the two roommates that well, but that still leaves me with three samples, my brothers, and I find a nice gradient there.

I have one brother who is really laid back about MMOs. I remember asking if he wanted to play Trine or watch a movie or something (my computer can't run Trine, whereas his can on max settings and by God that game is gorgeous but I digress), and he said, "I've got a raid in just a bit... Oh well, fuck it." The guild he's in, with my other brothers and their roommates, are pretty chill about it, so whatevs, they're cool about it.

Another brother, who I guess is pretty laid back as well, but I'd call him the intermediate because the only games he plays are primarily MMO's, or at least moreso than the brother above. As I said, he's not uptight about WoW (I'll occasionally say WoW instead of MMO's because I find it more comfortable to type), just moreso than the other.

And the final brother. Fucking Christ I actually worry about him. He's just a year older than I. My freshman year of High School, he got sick and stayed downstairs playing WoW with my brothers instead of going to school. He claims to have been sick the whole time (the whole time being January to nearly the end of the school year), and during that time I think he got addicted to the fucking thing. He had played it earlier, but not to such and extent, and not so fervently. He dropped out of school and basically browses the internet and plays WoW all day. He gets frustrated when people can't find the time to raid because of some altruistic bullshit (who cares if they don't want to or can't to it, we need a healer). He gets pissy at family gatherings because he's "got a raid at six," neverminding that he knew we'd be going to the gathering ahead of time and should have planned the raid around that, not vice versa.

Greg Tito:
The Psychology of Playing MMOs

How I learned to continue worrying and start despising subscription MMOs.

Read Full Article

TOR is just a rebound MMO relationship. Fight the urge and give yourself time to find a nice good game to settle down with and have a few multiplayer LAN parties with.

Greg, that's the advantage of F2P. City of Heroes, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, other F2P MMOs, including in two weeks, Star Trek Online, you can play them without feeling guilty about NOT playing them all the time.

Kanatatsu:

I can't imagine how the WoW environment makes anyone a more confident or successful person in terms of real life relationships with non-WoW people.

Congratulations! You're not a person with any of the mental disorders that make it difficult to interact with people!
Just because you can't imagine it doesn't make it false.

tharglet:

Kanatatsu:

I can't imagine how the WoW environment makes anyone a more confident or successful person in terms of real life relationships with non-WoW people.

Congratulations! You're not a person with any of the mental disorders that make it difficult to interact with people!
Just because you can't imagine it doesn't make it false.

I'm sorry but the theory that MMOs improve one's ability to engage in social interaction in the real world is just laughable.

If anything, they make it easier to dodge/delay treatment for the mental disorders you are referring to.

This is not a reply simply to troll or go against the norm. I happen to enjoy MMOS, but they do take up alot of time and energy to get full enjoyment out of them, not to mention drama in guilds and whatnot. So they aren't for everyone, to each their own.

May the stars watch over you.

Kanatatsu:

Uh, your case is really not what I was referring to. Highly atypical, obviously.

You said you've yet to hear a single story. I've now told you at least one, my own.

Nasrin:

Kanatatsu:

Uh, your case is really not what I was referring to. Highly atypical, obviously.

You said you've yet to hear a single story. I've now told you at least one, my own.

Yes, so now I have one story of an MMO being a good thing for one player in a very, very extraordinary situation.

Surely you realize that this doesn't mean anything to the overall argument that MMOs play a destructive, counterproductive role in the lives of the *vast majority* of the players that play them.

Your unique experience is great and all, and I'm glad WoW was there for you at that time of your life, but my point was really not to find a single uplifting story so that I could declare that MMOs are in fact wonderful life influences. The evidence I have, both anecdotally and personally, is overwhelmingly in the other direction.

Kanatatsu:
The evidence I have, both anecdotally and personally, is overwhelmingly in the other direction.

I mean, I've managed to make a career out of it, so clearly I disagree with you. But I'm happy for you to hold a different opinion than I do. Cheers!

Nasrin:

Kanatatsu:
The evidence I have, both anecdotally and personally, is overwhelmingly in the other direction.

I mean, I've managed to make a career out of it, so clearly I disagree with you. But I'm happy for you to hold a different opinion than I do. Cheers!

Your opinion would hold more weight with me if it wasn't based solely on your own personal experiences with MMOs. The article was very clearly addressing broader themes.

This reads as a veiled critique of subscription MMO's to me.

I too started to feel like I was ejoying WoW and started to do other things at the same time, but, I realised this and...stopped playing. It's as simple as that.

The fact that it was a subscription based MMO wasn't a contributing factor. In fact, I much prefer subscription based MMO's.

I would like to bring up the $80 every six months that you mentioned. You go on to say that there were 4 other games that you wanted to play during that period. Now, I don't know th pricing structure of PC games in the U.S. but in the UK they average out around 29.99 which would mean each of the games you mentioned would be getting on for $40-$50. Taking the low price point, this would mean you would be paying around $160 in the same six month time frame if you were to play all four of the games you mentioned. Plus, I don't think they would have lasted you the same amount of hours WoW did (I completed Witcher 2 in 3 days and I expected that to be a nice "long haul" RPG).

The bottom line is this: This is all down to you and, rather paradoxically, all up to you. You are the arsehole in charge of your own destiny and if you can't change what you're doing based on simple "I Like this/I don't like this" criteria then I think you need to have a word with yourself and not try to blame anything like subscription fees.

Just sit down and think about it for a moment. Six years. Gone. In some cases, that's just shy of 10% of your entire life spent in a single video game. Sometimes doing repetitive shit over and over again.

Of course people still playing get their ass in a sling when somebody says "Hey WoW sucks and I escaped". Fuck those people. If they really felt good about playing, they wouldn't feel the need to defend what is ostensibly someone else's opinion that has no bearing on them anyway.

Good for you Greg. Oh, I'm not sure if you going over to the dark side in SWTORMMORPG was innuendo or just your subconscious trying to tell you something (it was), but I liked it. :)

I have to agree with you, mainly because I don't exactly understand the logic of wanting to pay a subscription fee for a 'single' game.

Unless you have a high-end job and you can literally swim in money, I've never understood the mentality of people who are perfectly comfortable with buying a SINGLE game that requires you to pay monthly. XBL I understand: It's a service that is expanded to every multiplayer-based experience on the 360 that's supposed by it, and if I don't like one game on the Xbox, then I'm pretty sure there's probably something else I like, and if I want to play a game like Skyrim or Arkham City, then I can chat with my friends over Party Chat.

World of Warcraft requires you to pay a service FOR THAT GAME ONLY, so you can play THAT GAME ONLY. What if you get bored of it? Sorry, but unless you want to have money siphoned from your wallet, you have to keep playing. Perpetually. So you can justify yourself having spent money on it.

And thus I don't really like MMOs. They all blend into the same formula, and eventually they'll get boring, but because you've already invested money in it, you can't, in good conscience, simply abandon that game, because you'll be throwing away money at that point.

TOR sounds amazing, but eventually EVERYTHING grows stale. I doubt that even BioWare can keep pumping out content that'll convince me that I can keep playing TOR until the year 3011.

Bloody Hell Greg....

My story is not too far away from yours. The thing that saved me though was that when i resubscribed to wow (after a 3 month hiatus), my guild buddies were so far ahead of the game on me that i realised that i couldn't catch up without investing some serious time into it.... and i just couldn't face that grind, and even the activities i used to enjoy became tedious and boring. The game just instantly lost its appeal.

I gave away everything i had in terms of Matts and Gold to my guild and hit the big uninstall button. I haven't looked back since.

I suppose I should feel lucky that I've never had an experience like that before. I played WoW for a total of maybe 4-5 months about four years ago, decided I didn't like it, and then stopped playing. About a year later, I started playing City of Heroes, discovered I liked that game a LOT more (mostly due to an awesome community of people I met), and have played on and off for a while now, even since it went free-to-play. None of those friends minded if I didn't play for a few months or even a year at a time, which I think helped. I think that the lasting entertainment value of an MMO depends entirely on the people you're playing with, since the content itself can only go so far.

If it's fun it's fun.

I find MMORPG's fun. Specifically EverQuest 1 and World of Warcraft. I don't play for others, if something isn't fun I don't do it.

I don't raid, because it's not fun. :)

I do come back later and whomp the content when I can solo it.

I would have to say that I enjoy EQ1 far more than WoW, but WoW has a lot more instanty-fun.

I started all of my sentences with 'I' in this post. o.O That's gotta be some kind of achievement. :D

Oh yeah, and you can make friends in MMOs, you can't play single player games with others.

Laggy double post, oops.

Greg Tito:
The Psychology of Playing MMOs

How I learned to continue worrying and start despising subscription MMOs.

Read Full Article

...

You know, you could just practise some restraint. I like cider and beer, but it doesn't mean I drink it for breakfast, and if I have a job to do, I'm not going to put it off to down a pint.

But it really is the subscription that's the problem. I understand you need to pay to keep the server running, and pay for the GMs and mods, but it does seem a bit off putting.

I have a solution though... multiple game subs. One monthly subscription that covers a few games. One payment gets you access to WoW, and some other MMOs, or perhaps even cloud access to single player games.

I'm basing this idea off the cable or Sky TV principle. People are quite happy to pay monthly for a load of channels that it's physically impossible to watch all at the same time. I just wonder if maybe a similar model could be applied to downloadable games, and MMOs in particular.

Probably a bad idea, but millions justify the principle to themselves just to watch the occasional football match or movie on TV.

CapitalistPig:
First note: interesting psychology difference between forum posters and facebook posters. We all agree with the writer and the facebook crowd doesn't get it. I don't know what that means but facebook is too cool to comment about gamer psych.

Second: totally understand the writer here. I played some pay to play games back in the day (city of heroes, FF11) and I always felt the need to play. The monkey on my back that said "you're paying for this play damn it!" But the magic for me was always the beginning. When everything was new and kind of gave you vertigo when you first played from figuring out all the things you could do. Watching with a dropped jaw as a BAMF rolled by while you were smacking wild boars with your wooden sword. Then once it all becomes about "the grind" or "mat hunting" i try to be the big gamer and tell myself that i'll be a badass if i keep playing. Then i go get laid and realize there's alot more out there then this. Not to bash MMO's i still play some FtP ones (shout out to my LOLers). But I can come and go with those as I please. I'd like to think there will be some harmony out there between the game devlopers and the gamers. because as it stands game developers are trying desperately to make us into gluttonous gamers that will play until our eyes bleed and our wrists fall off. Gamers want a game they like to play but don't have to feel the need to play but will always be fun to play (paradox?). Its a tough issue.

Your first note seems to be correct unfortunately.

I almost got sucked into WoW myself, I played the 7 day trial and then really considered to buy it, fortunately I did not. I'm ver happy, that I didn't bought it, who knows what my life would look like now.

Ive found that just like with alcohol and other vices you learn to control your MMO consumption with time. Of course it usually involves you consuming too much and puking up everywhere first ;)

Oh and the subscription fee has nothing to do with it. If that amount of money is a lot to you you really shouldnt be playing any expensive games and doign some study or something.

Regarding the time spent. Getting a gold medal at a sport isn't considered a waste even though it consumes a persons life. Each person can waste their life how they see fit. In the end its only they who can decide whats worthy.

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