The Psychology of Playing MMOs

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I felt like I had contributed too much money and time into one game to bother spending those precious resources elsewhere.

i bet you dont think like that about the money (more of them) you spent on alcohol or smokes do you? well games give you more fun and is less harmless, so how is that a bad investment?

And yet, here I am, on the verge of taking a nose dive into BioWare's The Old Republic. A well-crafted MMO with a strong narrative and a Star Wars universe unbesmirched by Lucas the Hutt is too tempting to ignore. I am wary, though. Do I really want to commit to playing another MMO, not for review, but for pleasure? I just cancelled World of Warcraft this summer with my life, bank account, and marriage intact, and I've enjoyed playing a much more varied menu of games since then. I'm worried that TOR will become WoW reborn.

It will. All mmos are timesinks. they are fun, but the amount of time it takes form you is amazing. if you enjoy playing other variuos games now dont go into mmo world. variety is fun, albeit much more expensive. MMO is like a hobby, to each his own, but it will take a lot of time to be taken seriuosly.

As for the rest of your story, i can tell you exact same thing with me and Tibia (the oldes mmorpg out there, yes it predates ultima by 2 months). I did cut the cord with tibia multiple times, but it always drags me back in. however now its been 2 years and i dont regret it. However i must admit, im sucked into Eve Online now, however far less than tibia had me.
i wouldnt recommend starting old republic for anyone. its not a good game to begin with.
Your problem seems to be that you like me are trying to push out the best for your money. The key is not to. you paid, consider the money lost. and if you have other game that brings more fun, then thats the way to go. Biggest sucked in mmo isnt the monthly subscriptions, its the friends you make in game.

Yeah you're a sucker. I know games, like many other pleasures, can possess inherently addictive qualities that make you want to come back for more and more in a rather uncontrollable manner but ultimately the problem isn't so much in the game as it is in you. I should know as I far too often let myself get wrapped up in a particular game, especially around its release, and devote an absurd amount of my time to it when I could probably be doing more fulfilling things with most of that time. Gaming, like any form of escapism, should not be experienced at the expense of experiencing the 'real world' to the point were virtual reality becomes more real than actual reality as otherwise one can become too desensitised to the world at large.

I began playing WoW back in 2004 at launch when I was a junior in high school. I had always been the socially awkward type and had been a huge fan of Blizzard games. I played the WoW beta and was floored with how amazing it felt to walk around the vast open world and see real people playing characters everywhere. The sense of scale and community is what made WoW so intriguing. By a few months in, I had friends and was starting to raid Molten Core. What an experience those 40 mans were back in the day. I had never played another game like it.

The community focus is exactly what made WoW so great. I put hours into the game, even tho I was already geared in level 60 Naxx epics. Why? So I could run around Orgrimmar killing Horde to show off my sweet armor and weapons. I made some very tight nit friends playing WoW, some of which I have met IRL. Many of my ex-guildies and I still hop on for a game of League of Legends or other gaming endeavor every now and then. Even if we haven't gamed together in months, its always fun talking with them and just enjoying time with them.

I think what killed WoW for me was advancing to college. I lived with roommates that I liked and was pushed to socialize constantly. I quit WoW after my guild (Impervious of Stormreaver) snagged a top 30 world wide kill of Illidan in Black Temple. After reaching that goal, the game just lost it's luster. Why raid BT again next week when you have new REAL LIFE friends right next door who want to play and open you up to new hobbies outside gold farming and daily quests?

I briefly played Lich King at launch after missing all of Sunwell in BC. Racing to 80 was fun and my roommies cheered me on, and its launch timed out well with winter break. After returning to college in Spring however, I had no interest in leaving my new friends just so I could raid the next teir of 25 mans. I picked up Cata about a month after launch to check out the new content, but quickly fell out of it again as I had come into my own socially. Drinking, chilling with new people, kissing ladies, that sort of thing. I have no plans of purchasing Mists of Pandaria at this point. If I was to game with my close internet buddies, I'll stick to something that doesn't require a 4 day a week commitment.

I used to really be into mmorpgs. Mainly Maplestory, Ragnarok, Gunz, and the like. I know how the grinding and repetativeness can wear down the value, turn it into work, etc ...
[Typical mmo=zombiefactory post]
I finally gave most of them up due to the constant add-ons being more than my pc could take.
I found an alternative though, that seems to be working well for me.
Social games. I know, the usual IMVU, Secondlife, flamewar stuff, but just listen for a sec.
After you get used to working in a rp fashion, you'd be surprised at some of the stuff that you can get into. Last week a few friends and me had a 7hr long zombie-apocalype thing, kind of like what some of the forum games go with. Just look for what you're into and there's probably a whole group of people with similar interests just having trouble to find a place to fit in. I've met a few of my friends on some of these sites. We exchange skype info and have had meetings in other online games to mess around when we just want to play the regular way but can always fall back to the chatrooms when we get bored. For example, after messing around at a bar scene, me and a few linked up on skype and had our own tournament on Halo. I can't get that many people irl to come over for a lan party so it was a pretty big thing for me. Who knows, maybe it'll work for some of you also.

I understand what you feel.

I just don't have it. I enjoyed WoW and quit when I started to lose interest. It's that simple for me, I felt bad for leaving my guild without a main tank but guilt will never be a reason I do something I don't want to.

I never liked WoW, or EQ, or other autoattack & press a few buttons repeat games.

'cos they are shit games and I don't like shit games

From what I've seen & heard (no, I'm not about to import TOR to australia and put up with overseas lag), the story in TOR is quite nice, but the combat is ASS.

I played a bit of DC universe online, 'cos active blocking, active dodging, active combos.
A bit as in I have 6 level 30s, but I'm done with it .. it's mildly amusing, but there are more impressive games around.

And by impressive I don't mean Skyrim.
I mean it's a great game for the exploring, but anyone who thinks skyrim's combat is actually good needs to get their head examined.

If there is one thing I will never understand, it's people who enjoy grinding. I saw my brother spend hours every day for months on MAPLESTORY. On a private server where all you do is grind golden pigs which give you massive amounts of exp, then you reach the maximum level extremely fast, and then you start it over by 'rebirthing'. My brain cannot comprehend how that can be fun!

Obviously many mmorpg's are very grindy. If any new mmorpg is to succeed it needs to eliminate this. In fact untill someone comes along and does this I will not pay a monthly fee to play any mmorpg. I can get 300 hours worth of original content from 50 euro's, and I should pay 15 euro's a month to play the same content over and over? And then they want me to pay 50 euro's again for expansions with content I should already have payed enough for? Screw you mmorpg developers!

I played the D&D MMO for probably for or five months before I stopped pay for my subscription. I realized that I was getting home from work and going directly to the computer, still wearing work clothes. I was a bike messenger at the time, so I'd be sitting their in sweaty clothes, eating at the computer, playing until midnight or one or two then going to bed, back to work and right back to the computer aftewards.

I realized that I was missing a ton of real life shit and I quit.

As an aside, my friend who was big into WoW gave me a month free trial thingy and I thought WoW was the most boring shit I every played. I guess when you get to higher levels it gets "fun", but I couldn't be arsed to spend the time grinding fetch quests and kill x number of x quests to get there. Personally I don't get the appeal of WoW. I found it pretty banal.

I don't know what it is about my thought patterns, but I just cannot get into MMO's, at all. I genuinely couldn't say why, but in the end I just get bored. I've tried EVE Online, WAR and a couple of Korean WoW clones but I've all eventually come away from all of them; not decisively, but because I literally just forgot to play them because of all other games I play.

So MMO's (in their current form) and I just don't mix. I guess I don't have any money worries on this front then. :)

So sad. This is why I stave-off of the MMO lands, as compelling as they sound. I cannot but feel as though I'd be wasting my life, on something that was completely worthless, and cannot supply me with any sort of achievement outside of itself. This is one of the many reasons, I chose to become an actor. Playing different roles IRL is a lot more fun and, most importantly, rewarding, then playing one in the digital world. I'm very confident about this notion; yet I fear that, if, by chance, a Naruto-based, sub. MMO comes out, I won't be able to withold myself any longer! Hopefuly, it won't, or if it does, at least I hope it's shitty.

I've been a MMO player for going on 15 years now. I started with the classic, Ultima Online, then moved to Star War Galaxies, then to WoW, and now TOR. The two key works in MMO: Massive and Multiplayer are the reasons I play MMOs. The problem I have with TOR, it doesn't feel like a MMO to me, the story is to much singleplayer, don't get me wrong it is a great story based driven game, but that not what I look for in a MMO. The game makes it even harder to play with friends when you choose two different classes on different starting planets. It is a pain in the ass, then again WoW did the same thing in Cataclysm with the Worgen and Goblins having their own separated starting areas. TOR you also loose a lot of choice at the beginning. You have to do the quests in the planets assigned. If you don't like a particular planet, to bad. To me Massive means big enough for choice, which quests you want to do. It takes several hours in TOR before that opens up. I think TOR is a step backward from an MMO game unless they plan to open the game more up.

This man put into words what I couldn't. I went through the same exact situation. WoW really does make you want to play nothing else. Because, you know, why? Why do anything else? It just feels so worthless when you could be leveling up your character and doing something that will stick, and other people will see.

No offense but that sounds really sad.
You should be doing something for your own enjoyment, not trying to impress people with your level 82 character or whatever.

Why grind the same dungeons, do the same raids or whatever when you could be experiencing new stories and new games? Stats are just numbers on a computer somewhere which'll disappear the moment the power goes out. They're meaningless. If you're not enjoying the moment, you're wasting your time.


i bet you dont think like that about the money (more of them) you spent on alcohol or smokes do you? well games give you more fun and is less harmless, so how is that a bad investment?

Fun is in the eye of the beholder. Lots of people do things that aren't fun, playing games is one of them. If you're having fun playing a game, good for you, but if you're not having fun then what the hell are you doing with your time?.

Point being, "games give you more fun" is not accurate. People can have fun drinking, people can have fun playing games, and in both cases the opposite. I tell you one thing I'd rather have a glass of wine than spend 10 minutes playing WoW or any other mmo.


Stories like yours keep convincing me that avoiding subscription based MMO's was one of the better decisions I made as a gamer. The feeling of being "obligation to play" as opposed to "playing for fun" doesn't seem like an improvement. That and my finances wouldn't really allow for another monthly bill.

Stories like yours keep convincing me that avoiding subscription based MMO's was one of the better decisions I made as a gamer. The feeling of being "obligation to play" as opposed to "playing for fun" doesn't seem like an improvement. That and my finances wouldn't really allow for another monthly bill.

In earlier games, it was actually great. You were part of a virtual world, there was a lot to do, and you paid, in part, to keep the "riff-raff" out. But this was when subscriptions were young, and developers had to try much harder in order to convince people to continually pay for a game. We were getting their best effort, because they had a lot to prove.

After early MMOs desensitized people to the subscription idea, that's when WoW popped in and offered a mass-appeal, stay-in-the-lines game. It was new, it was acceptable, and we were "over" the whole $15/month shock. WoW's success owes a great deal to lucky timing.

But it was WoW, and its imitators, that really dug into the "loot treadmill" model. Raid to get loot, get loot so you can do the next raid. No more housing, no more personalized appearance, no more personalized skill set, no more crafting beyond "insert two wimples, get a widget." And when folks saw that you could get away with charging a subscription fee for a quarter of an MMO? That was it.

Thought I'd make an account and give my 2cents.

I don't really have that much experience with MMOs. Played a few F2P stuff when I was fourteen~sixteen, then played no MMO at all for years until Final Fantasy XIV release made me interested in trying a MMO again. Yes, Final Fantasy XIV. I've been playing since open beta, and let's be honest here, while I'd say the game right now is "good enough", release was utter crap. Still, with all the problems, I logged in almost daily and was having fun. I guess that grinding for 5 hours straight in Tam Tara wasn't so bad while reading some stuff on the internet and talking with my in-game friends. And no, I don't do that anymore, I had plenty of free time circa december 2010.

Anyways, I think the whole community aspect is one of the strenghts of the genre and can make the difference between "oh, this game is so boring" and "DJIGGA DJIGGA DJIGGAS LOL!" and other weird stuff we spout on LS vent when doing stuff together. Heck, even the damn Moogle prereq quest - thanks god they patched that thing and made it less annoying - was very satisfiying as we laughed together a lot every time a Spindigle aggroed us and linked 2-3 trees, wiping out our party more times than I can count. I wouldn't have endured that thing much long a single player game, that's for sure.

As for the question at the end of the article, I'd say you're a sucker. If you didn't feel like playing a game, just don't do it. If you feel you're wasting your money if you don't play, and only play to not waste that money, they you really should stop playing. Maybe the game isn't for you, paid or not. Maybe the genre itself isn't for you.

Using myself as an example once again, I was really burned out / busy in real life a few months ago and stopped playing for like 2 months. I just posted on my LS forum telling them I wouldn't be around for a while, logged in a few times to say "Hi" and that's it. No one complained, kicked me out or removed from 'raid' groups. In fact, once I started playing again they helped me finish the stuff I missed while I was out. Okay, to be fair, FFXIV wasn't really P2P until a few days ago, but I can assure you I would do the same thing if it was (cancelling my sub for that period, of course).

The point is: I don't play a game when I don't want to, even if I'm paying for it. The same way I don't go to the gym when I don't want to, and I pay monthly for that as well. If you feel the game is not fun anymore, just stop playing it. It's *that* simple, IMO, but maybe I'm just an exception. May'be it's hard to do that.

It also helps to plan up stuff in advance if you're having some trouble getting time to do other stuff. I do that myself, I sorta have planned in advance which days I'm going to log in, which days I'm going to sleep early, which days I will just watch anime, etc, etc. Stuff like "Tomorrow I'm going to log in and try to level my gladiator" or "Tomorrow I won't play FFXIV at all and watch some anime" or whatever. But I guess the most important advice I can give is just what I've already said: Don't feel like playing it? Don't play it.

As for people that had problems with guild officers and other stuff, I'd like to point out that douches exist everywhere and just because your guild leader kicked you out because you missed a raid, doesn't mean everyone out there is like that.

And for the one guy saying about MMOs ruining people's lifes, the same could be said of any form of entertainement and addictions in general. People got too sucked into things of little "real life" value long before MMOs, they aren't the only "life sucking villain" out there and I don't think people play games expecting to have some sort of life changing experience or whatever. Don't see the problem here.

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