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There’s Something About MMOGs

January 8, 2010

Let’s face it, there’s just something about this genre that sucks you in. Before you know it, the MMO monster sinks its hooks into you and you’re done for. Many of us become MMO gamers for life, and at any given time you’re either playing one or looking to move on to another.

MMOs have become more popular over the last few years as the genre reaches out to a wider audience. More people discover they like these games every day, and why shouldn’t they? MMOs appeal to our nature. Yeah, yeah, I know trying to apply psychology to gamers is just asking for trouble, but this is just my theory. Besides, what are MMOs anyway, if not social experiments done on a mega scale? As with any type of game, you have huge motivational forces at work here.

In the real world, we are driven by materialism the desire to progress. Our culture encourages us to reach for the stars and hard work is rewarded. These desires are ingrained in us. You think, maybe if I land that new promotion, I can afford that shiny new convertible. Or, hey, these shoes I have are so last season, I need to buy new ones!

You know you want it.

When you think about it, the in-game world isn’t really all that different even though you’re dealing with intangible pixels. Those motivational forces that are so deeply-rooted in our nature start to apply to our toons, which when it comes down to it, is really your in-game persona. You start off as a lowly Level 1 knowing that with time and effort you can become a less-lowly Level 2. Put in even more time and effort and you know you’ll eventually become that armor-clad, level-capped epic badass one day. It’s almost like an art form, when you consider the fact you’ll have an end result you can show off to the world. And yes, MMOs are about showing off. If it wasn’t, guild chat wouldn’t be spammed with so many outbursts of “ZOMG look what just dropped for me!!!” and public hubs wouldn’t be so full of players blatantly idling in the most visible spots showcasing their ultra-rare mounts. Admit it, you’ve done it. We all have, to some extent or another. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Getting loot in an MMO wouldn’t be anywhere near as satisfying if you couldn’t flaunt it to the world or revel in the fact that other players are probably envying you for your achievements. Still, there’s a catch–you can never “beat” the game. Ongoing MMOs have no true ending; theoretically there’s always room for improvement–as long as the developers add more stuff. Indeed, when content does get updated, we simply just follow our natural inclinations: keep playing.

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