MMO Communities & Anonymous Internet Asshole Syndrome

Scribed February 27, 2014 under The Cynic Dialogues
Reckoning_Day_by_Philipstraub

Similarly, cooperation works better when we do it willingly. Being forced to cooperate makes us aware that we are cooperating which makes us critique cooperation. There is a huge difference between willingly grouping with another player to make my time spent more efficient and effective and being forced to group with another player to produce the same results. As with immersion, we become aware of cooperation as a problem rather than a solution. We use it to further divide us from the ‘baddies’ or the ‘filthy casuals’ or the ‘elitist assholes.’ When forced, cooperation becomes a barrier to community rather than a means to promote it.

C.T Murphy @ http://murfvs.net/2014/02/27/new-mmorpgs-are-complicated-not-complex-and-its-increasingly-problematic/

Wow. I’ve been exchanging some post dialogue with Murf and just when I thought I was done with him forever, he brings me right back in. So where to begin? First off the selected quote was one of the major issues I had with post. Specifically that last line. When forced cooperation becomes a barrier eh? To answer him, the natural feeling in EverQuest of needing a group to accomplish things made perfect sense. We don’t send soldiers off to war without medics and surgeons. Just like EverQuest didn’t expect you to go out into the battlefield by your lonesome. Many would attribute the feeling EverQuest brought out in its players to the fact that players had very real needs in the game to group up with their peers. While some might call that “forced”, I’d call it providing a reason to be social in a massively multiplayer online game.

It’s hard to know exactly what Murphy feels, because to be honest, the talk of complicated systems literally put me to sleep. The science of a game is less important to me then the outcomes. What I know from my experiences in over two dozen MMOs is games last based on a players attachment to other players. Games that last the longest tend to have a meaningful depth to their social interaction structure. In a game like World of Warcraft we have a very real necessity to group up if you want to experience a significant amount of the content in the game. Just like in EverQuest, we too have a very real need (albeit its not spelled out for us in a group finder) to group up with our friends. Neither of these games could really be called out as having “barriers to community” formation. In fact, many attribute the difficulty and grouping necessity as one of the core reasons why the EverQuest community was as strong as it still remains to this day.

The notion that a forced grouping structure forces players to assign a value to a players skill, occurs in any game. Call of Duty is the polar opposite of “community forming gameplay” that I can think of. Yet, players are still called ‘baddies’ and ‘filthy casuals’ (or whatever godforsaken terminology the kiddies are using today). Players aren’t forced to group or even to cooperate in a title like Call of Duty and the same ‘asshole spewing’ behavior occurs. What Murphy has missed is what I call ‘Anonymous Internet Asshole Syndrome’; which is a quick term for any half-wit who discovers he can use bad language and rude behaviors cloaked in the anonymity that the internet provides us all (sort of … Edward Snowden).

More importantly, A.I.A.S. is actually present MORE SO in games without a game provided need for grouping up. In EverQuest, assholes were ostracized and minimized by the community very quickly by merely ignoring them. If you were a dickhead in EQ, you couldn’t find groups. Many a tale could be told of one of these poor reputed characters selling their account merely to get away from a bad reputation. So is there really any hope? Casualisation of MMOs have clearly led to the wrong trend. Even in one of my examples, WoW, the raid-finder and party-finder tools have actually had an inverse affect on community in the game. Is it any surprise that since their introduction players have largely run away from the game? Community has always been a bullet point in modern MMO features list, but its a hollow one when the developers insert systems that run contrary to community creation. Thats an article in itself though….

#mmo #community #anonymousinternetassholesyndrome 

    Article Commentary


  1. On February 28, 2014 j3w3l said:

    OMG!! I have the POOWOAAAH … to comment

    I think you missed his point there and your pretty much continuing on with the same sentiment. My interpretation was more the forced grouping mechanisms of current mmos like say rift or gw2 that create a group or have more informal mechanisms. Also the dungeon finder systems that squeeze a group to fit.

    I don’t believe the grouping in eq was forced but a result of the simple but complex systems in place. The mobs and areas were hard but there were other options. Mostly you wanted to seek these groups out for yourself and find groups more in line with your own interests and such. That was the emergent property of the grouping itself rather than the “forced” grouping of modern systems like lfg, rift public quests, or like the informal gw2 method that seems to becoming more popular

    The greater dickwad theory indeed is all around us and your point with eq runs true. In a more non forced situation these things were far more run by the community itself with consequences to curb the dicks. When forced though it seems you have little ability to get away from them or enact any consequence.

  2. On March 2, 2014 Izlain said:

    Really it doesn’t matter how you design your game, be it a Call of Duty or World of Warcraft clone. Anonymity is something that the internet provides, so it’s not going anywhere, no matter what game you are playing. I always felt like I had a high competency and skill level in any game that I play (if I don’t, I usually quit playing that game) but I have even had a bit of that elitist attitude at times. An example:

    The other day I was on my PS3 and a random person added me as a friend. After some time I asked him where I had met him and it turns out that we had played Awesomenauts together (a MOBA). I am fairly high on the Leaderboards there, and being a team game my ranking depends on my teammate’s skill level. So I found myself asking him if he was “any good” and explaining that if he wasn’t he would do my ranking “more harm than good.”

    Later I started thinking about why I care, or why I would even have that attitude? Here’s some random nice person that wants to be my “friend” and play games with me, and I’m over here being an elitist scumbag worrying about his ranking or whatever. Turns out, he did have a pretty poor rating, but he played much better than his ranking suggested. So I’m making a conscious effort not to have that internet asshole attitude, as it can happen to any of us.

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