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Try New Things

May 28, 2010

As I’ve reiterated so many times before on this blog, I’ve just started playing World of Warcraft again after a long period of being away. But I realized I never really explained why I took my break. Yes, I was a little tired of the raiding, the heroics, the dailies, the treadmill and all that jazz, but the ultimate reason was much more than just plain old burnout. You see, back then I was mostly just playing WoW. Meanwhile, as the market expanded, new games were popping up left and right. All of a sudden, I felt like I was missing out on these other great titles because I was too focused on just one game.

I also want to take this opportunity to talk about a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing. Certain segments of the MMO community seem to treat WoW like a disease, don’t you think? That’s nothing new; people can say what they want about a game and it doesn’t bother me. No, instead, what really irks me these days is the ostracizing and belittling of all the game’s players like they’re mentally handicapped or that their opinions don’t count or matter if they “only play WoW”.

Well, I think dismissing people solely based on their game of choice is a bit elitist and unfair. But then I’m also going to play devil’s advocate here and say that if you look past the insults and attitude there’s a smidgen of logic there, even if it’s just barely. If your only focus is on one game, whether it’s WoW or some other MMO, you’re limited to a very narrow view of the genre.

So with this post, I want to talk about the matter of playing one game versus many games, and the notion of branching out and trying new things. Now, I don’t think it’s a bad thing if a player only sticks to just one game, because what it really comes down to what you enjoy. In the end, you should play the games you want to play, not because of what anyone else thinks. Yes, I used to only play WoW…and am currently playing it again along with a few other MMOs. Its critics can crap on the game all they want and I don’t care; they’re entitled to their opinion and the only thing that matters to me is whether or not I’m having fun. Sometime last year, however, I made the decision to experience more MMOs and broaden my horizons. It was my own personal choice, and it had nothing to do with anyone or anything else.

For me, my hiatus from WoW availed me to try many other MMOs out there and I don’t regret any of them at all. Especially now that I have this blog, I find it easier these days to engage in meaningful discourse with other gamers like the ones on my blogroll. Whether or not I agree with a certain point of view, I feel more informed and thus more comfortable now with piping up on many MMO topics than I ever did before. It’s wonderful when I find that I actually “get it” when I read about someone’s unique take on things, or their thoughts on certain playing styles. Even when they talk about a game I’ve never played before, at least I feel I can add to the discussion by drawing parallels or giving examples.

My time away from WoW has also taught me a lot about my own gaming habits. I look at the games I’ve played over the last couple of years, and see all these titles I’ve tried (EvE Online, Champions Online, etc.), subscribed to and dropped for good (Warhammer, Aion, etc.), or canceled only to be picked up again (Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.) Regardless of the result, I think each game was a valuable experience. It made me realize what I liked, or what I didn’t like.

For example, while it’s arguably one of the most polished MMOs on the market, WoW isn’t perfect. I knew that before, of course, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly why. But now that I’ve seen some of what’s out there, I am more aware of the various mechanics, features, systems and other things related to gameplay. I think to myself, I love this from Game X or that from Game Y, or I think such-and-such in game Z isn’t as well executed compared to Game A, B, or C, etc.

Playing more MMOs has also given me a new perspective on how their developers operate. Obviously, not every company has the resources Blizzard has,  and it’s interesting to see how different teams tackle the same challenges. I’ve come to recognize that while a certain solution might work for one game, it doesn’t automatically mean it can work for others. Instead of making me go, “Well, Blizzard can do it, so why can’t they?” it’s actually made me a lot more open-minded and sympathetic.

So speaking of which, if I seem overly positive in some of my articles, it might also be due to the fact that many things are still so new and fresh to me. After all, I’ve only been playing MMOs for about four years, and for more than half that time I was only playing WoW. So admittedly I’m a noob compared to some of the MMO veterans out there, but just give me another ten or so years and a few dozen more MMOs! Who knows, you may make a cynical and jaded gamer out of me yet!

All joking aside though, I thought I knew what things were like until I took a break to try new things. Some MMOs have pleasantly surprised me, others have lead to disappointment. Regardless, I’m still having fun and my eyes have been opened ever since I started giving more games a chance.

27 comments

  1. i’m actually looking forward to your WoW posts, having only really been familiar with sto, aoc, and what not.

    also, does this mean I should post about things that are not guild wars 2 once in a while? :P

    pretty good advice, especially for bloggers.


    • Well, this pretty much just came out of me looking at my game list and writing out some of my musings, I didn’t really think of it as “advice” for bloggers or anyone when I first posted it. But thanks :)

      And I don’t think you only post about Guild Wars 2, I think you have a good mix. Regardless, when it comes down to it I don’t mind reading blogs with a narrow focus or that just looks at one game, for me it’s all about the writing style!


  2. I don’t have as much time to comment since on my wrk commute. But share the same view of heart of the post in Try New Things and broaden your horizons. There are so many new games to try it’s unfortunate not to give some others a try.

    I’m a bit a focus when I play a game, but that’s due to liking to explore as well as learning and figure things out myself and self educate. But I’m always for Trying New Things. Some gamers prefer to be stuck playing just one game for various reasons.

    Endorsed!


    • I think even if a person sticks to one game because of certain reasons, like time constraints, finances, etc, as long as they acknowledge that there’s more out there and recognize that their game of choice isn’t the end all and be all to the genre, then it’s still the same effect. Some people might label that person an “armchair” gamer, but being opened minded and well informed is what really matters in my book.


  3. Oh yes, I easily dismiss people that know nothing else or always come back to WoW because they think it is so good. This is the difference between a player new to the genre and someone who got bored by a ton of MMOs already.

    It is like telling me burgers are haute cuisine; they are not. WoW is extremely well done mediocrity.

    Sure, there are tons of MMOs that have major issues and flaws that also only copy WoW. And this is their major mistake.

    WoW has turned away from a linear, guided theme park world into a dungeon and raid game. In order to make everyone able to participate, dungeons have become super easy mode. AoE your way to victory. They even eliminated crowd control, and now apparently want to bring it back for Cataclysm.

    Raids have become dancing courses. Memorize patterns and do the dance. This design style emerged early on in raiding, by now veterans can tell you how a fight works by telling you how this fight compares to the phase of this or that boss in one of the older raids.

    What makes WoW about as infectious as a veneral disease is that for a new player, there is probably no better world to start in. It is just wonderful, and who can say wonderful is anything but wonderful?

    People are right to point out it is not Blizzard’s or WoW’s fault that they dominate the market. It is the competitors who someone seem unable to serve an alternative.

    The sad thing is that WoW will continue to breed tons of players that are exceptionally happy with the state of things as they are. This also has a negative impact on future MMOs.

    Richard Bartle wrote an article that I often criticized for certain points I did not agree with, but the core has become a sad truth (Why Virtual Worlds are designed by Noobs): http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2157/soapbox_why_virtual_worlds_are_.php

    Players got to love a flawed design and stick to it. The mass of players decides the future of MMOs by mob rule. I like to call it democracy at its worst.

    From the view of a MMO veteran, new MMO players get served the same old crap in a shiny package. Plus years of design degeneration. That’s WoW.

    Of course I am fully aware that there are players out there who will now lose all will to live or feel I tainted their WoW playing experience and am a sad and mean person.

    This is what amazes me all the time. When I am playing a game and like it, it does not strike me at all what anyone else or public opinion thinks about it.

    Not many things are more interesting than to explore new virtual worlds. I know players that for some reason do not want and sometimes never ever tried another MMO. This seems to be particularly common among LOTRO players for some reason.


    • You know how in my post I said that WoW isn’t perfect and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why until I started playing other games? Some of the reasons are exactly what you’ve pointed out here. I hate the fact WoW has become only about gear, dungeon and raids. I also hate how mechanical those instance experiences have become. To me, MMOs are always about the journey, and WoW pretty much kills that by encouraging players to get to end game as soon as possible because that’s where all the new content is focused now. That’s why I resolved to start over with a new character, and I’m going to take my time to enjoy the Horde content that I’ve never experienced before

      As you’ve pointed out though, WoW is a double edged sword in that it is also great for new players on the MMO scene. I’ve seen the Bartle article linked to other logs before, and I agree that a lot of people will compare all subsequent MMOs they play with their first ones, which for a lot of folks, is WoW.

      I do want to make the distinction between people who think WoW is the best thing since sliced bread and can do no wrong VS. people who may play WoW but recognize it’s not the be all and end all to the genre though…because I would have to admit, the first group deserves much of the ridicule and scorn directed at them. Thankfully, I don’t think that the blind love for WoW mentality is typical of most WoW players though.


  4. I do see a lot of WOW hate in Warhammer and AOC. I cancelled my wow sub a couple of months ago due to burnout and I that I have seen everything that I’m gonna see until the next xpac.

    For me I love different games for different things; wow I love the dungeons hands down, War I love the pvp, AOC I just started and so far has been pretty good.

    I’ll be back to wow for Cataclysm and then on to Star Wars and/or Guild Wars 2.


    • I think that’s the same way for me too! I honestly don’t think I can go back to playing just WoW or even just any one game. There are so many things I like from different MMOs now, I can’t imagine stopping now.

      Cataclysm is definitely on my list, as is SWTOR and Guild Wars 2.


  5. I think it’s fantastic that you decide to try other MMOs and experience the genre some more! WoW is a great game but it’s not the be-all and end-all of the MMORPG industry and it’s often hard to be able to maintain perspective if that’s the only thing someone has played.

    In terms of being negative or positive, I love your posts and the way you blog so it’s perfect for me :) I try to maintain a balance myself but it’s tough sometimes due to the nature of the medium of blogging. It’s easy to come across as extreme when you write or read a 500 word blog post even if the author doesn’t really care too much either way :)


    • I think for a lot of people, WoW is their only MMO. While I think it’s okay for someone to find their niche and stick with it, now that I’ve tried new things myself, I think it would be a shame if they never go beyond WoW to see what other MMOs are out there. I have to say, it does change one’s perspective.

      And thanks, I love your blog too because you frequently write about very unique topics :D


    • Hear hear! We like GeeCee for the same reasons!


  6. I dislike WoW for its players and I’ll tell you why.

    No other MMO had players that are so nasty and narrow minded in general. I’ve never seen a game where people are so selective about who they play with for nit-picky reasons. When I played you needed to fill out more information to join a guild than I do to get most jobs and then once in allow some raid leader to tell you how you must gear and spec your character. I’ve seen this behavior push people to betray friends in one way or another just to get gear and more prestige in the eyes of the elitist community.

    If i wanted to have to climb social ladders by having nice clothes, kissing ass, and accepting social norms imposed on me by others I’d join and exclusive country club and Golf.

    I simply don’t need that sort of headache to play a game where i want to relax and have fun.

    Sure in other games there are specs that are better for things and gear is required as a gating process but in my experience the players don’t force get as power hungry or force you to do things to be part of the club. Or perhaps its just because I’ve found options in other games to avoid that atmosphere where i couldn’t in WoW.


    • And you’ve touched upon yet another thing I found I dislike about WoW. I think that’s one of the biggest differences I’ve seen between WoW and other games — the community.

      I think people who nitpick and exclude in-game are as bad as people who think WoW can do no wrong or that it’s the be all and end all of the MMO industry…because you know for them it’s only about GEAR GEAR GEAR! And I don’t think that should be the point to any MMO at all.

      I’ve seen this type of attitude in WoW a lot, and have heard many horror stories. Thankfully, I have never been on the receiving end of such elitism because I tend to play with my friends or guild. The best guilds I’ve ever joined are always those that invite you based on who you are and not how you can button mash or what your gearscore is.

      You can still find pockets of good community in WoW. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve found people to play with who are still into the values of friendship, cooperation, mutual support. So while I agree with you that there’s a prevalence of narrow-mindedness in WoW, thankfully I think there’s still a good chunk of people who still play for the right reasons.


      • WoW does have a pretty horrid community in some ways. The stories I’m hearing about the dungeon finder sound like a tony slice of hell to me. However, I’ve also met cool people there every time I’ve played it. It’s one of the few MMOs I’ve made real life friends in.


  7. I know I’ve been hard on WoW too lately. A lot of the commenters above all have valid points so I won’t repeat everything. What got at me lately was WoW players trying other games with a narrow mind expecting to find WoW.

    I know I was pretty much an ass about that in my latest post and it was on purpose because I’m tired of hearing things along the lines of “Feature X sucks, in WoW we …. “.

    I’m glad to see your open minded about trying new stuff and not expecting to find WoW.


    • LOL I didn’t think you were being an ass in your last post. What you’re saying is true :P

      You’ve brought up another good point in your comment though. I should have also emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind when trying new games. It does bug me too when people try a new game with their minds already made up that it’s going to suck or that it’s not going to “be as good as WoW”. I didn’t think to make a distinction between that and actually trying new games in the spirit of expanding your horizons.

      An attitude like that defeats the whole point of trying something new, to be honest. It’s unfair to oneself as well as the game to try something for like five minutes only to ragequit because it’s now WoW-like enough.


  8. I really enjoy trying out different MMOs. Even if it’s something I play for a weekend and move on from, it’s really interesting to see how the basic mechanics of different games work.

    For example, the Chronicles of Spellbourne absolutely failed to hold my interest past the six hour mark. But I still got to fool around with a very interesting combat system, and experience an odd setting. Six hours well spent.

    On the subject of WoW, it’s a pretty good game. After leveling two ‘toons to the cap (and numerous others to the 20-45 mark) I became so burned out on it that I could hardly stand to log (in this state I remain). The solo leveling game is also a bit too easy now to my tastes. However, the vitriol that WoW inspires in certain circles is pretty irrational to me.

    On the other hand, it does irk me when someone that hasn’t really played anything apart from WoW takes a dump on an MMO after a single afternoon of play. If you have only played one game, the merit of your opinion as to the overall quality of another is more than suspect.


    • I agree, even if I come away disappointed or unimpressed, I still think it’s time well spent. Good or bad, all experiences are worth having, and you know what, sometimes I do end up finding something great.

      And I too find all forms of irrational vitriol a bit sad, regardless of whether it’s inspired by WoW or some other game. Whether through ignorance or driven by a personal vendetta, those who only play WoW and dump on another MMO after a single afternoon of play I think are just asking for it.


  9. It looks like Yeebo already said everything I would have contributed. I guess that’s why I like his blog so much. :)

    I’m all for expanding your gaming horizons. You never know what you’re missing out on until you actually try it. At the same time, I don’t have any trouble with someone going deep into a game if you find one that you really enjoy.

    Life is to short to complain about how other people spend their free time. Like what you like, share your views, and don’t be mean.


    • I can’t agree more!


    • “Life is too short to complain about how other people spend their free time. Like what you like, share your views, and don’t be mean.”

      Well said :-)


  10. I don’t really have anything to say that hasn’t already been said, but I would like to echo: I don’t talk much, but I follow this blog religiously because I like mmogamerchick’s style. Don’t make apologies, GC, just continue to be yourself and post your opinions. :)


    • Thank you, that really means a lot to me :D


  11. Woot, awesome post. I’ve been sucked away by Real Life for the past week (last week of the quarter, with me writing some papers and grading others), but I’m going through and reading all these thoughtful posts of yours.

    I’m in a sorta different boat than you – I’ve never stuck with one game for very long, so I’ve actually taken many little sips from all over, but never drank deeply of one game. I just don’t think I have any grounds upon which to compare one MMO to another!


    • Ah, let me welcome you back from the world of academia! Haven’t been seeing you in game or on the blogosphere and was wondering what you were up to, but I guessed that it had to be stuff to do with grad school.


      • Yes. If you want a sense of how I feel, watch this (it’s a Downfall video).


      • LOL! That is one of the best Downfall parodies I’ve seen.



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