Elementalistly took to writing what I consider to be a spirited discourse on why the MMO community is beginning to disappoint him, and while I understand his sentiments, I cannot say I completely agree with him.
While I won’t try to refute all his points (another writer, Nightwreath of Massively Multiverse, seems to have done that ahead of anyone else), I do wish to point out something I’ve noticed about the gaming community at large.
By some measures, it can be said that there is a significantly larger number of gamers now as compared to during gaming’s infancy. Comparatively speaking, the number of people playing MMORPGs during the Everquest I era were far fewer when placed against the era of World of Warcraft’s dominance. Couple that with the fact that console gaming is a significantly larger enterprise now when compared to gaming on personal computers, and you have the stirrings of a large console gaming base that could potentially spill onto or share commonalities with the fanbase of MMORPG games.
That said, there is one thing that made me think when I read Elementalistly’s post, and that had something to do with what I call the Chun Li -Bison Dichotomy.
During the latter half of Street Fighter: The Movie, we are introduced to Raul Julia’s famous conversation with Ming-na, set as a confrontation between M. Bison and Chun Li:
Chun-Li: It was twenty years ago. You hadn’t promoted yourself to general yet. You were just a petty drug lord. You and your gang of murderers gathered your small ounce of courage to raid across the border for food, weapons, slave labor…my father was the village magistrate. A simple man with a simple code: justice. He gathered the few people that he could to stand against you. You and your bullies were driven back by farmers with pitchforks! My father saved his village at the cost of his own life. You had him shot as you ran away! A hero… at a thousand paces.
M. Bison: I’m sorry… I don’t remember any of it.
Chun-Li: You don’t remember?!
M. Bison: For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day of your life. But for me… it was Tuesday.
The Chun Li-Bison dichotomy is the term I use for the situation wherein two entities have a disconnect over the perceived value of a particular event. The analogy holds firm in the face of two masses of gamers, and this is where the main discussion point begins.
I feel that Elementalistly fails to take into account not only the overlaps between the console and PC gaming communities, but also the inherent perceived value individual players have over what makes a game worthwhile to spend time on.
My awkward reference to a game being “worthwhile to spend time on” is written specifically to avoid confusion and to necessitate a thought process with the reader. One person will find a game is worthwhile to spend time on because of a variety of factors that will potentially differ from the next person. In my personal case, a game is worthwhile to spend time on if it provides me with an experience that I can lose myself in temporarily, regardless of whether I “finish” the game or complete my objective or not. For another person, a game may be worthwhile to spend time on because it allows for decidedly short-term bursts of entertainment or amusement. For yet another, a game is worthwhile to spend time on because of the achievements and recognition one can get from mastering it.
The MMO community at large has changed from the time of Ultima Online. The Community is no longer a few thousand strong but is, instead, a society of millions connected by different games. To say that the MMO community is disappointing seems to presuppose that everyone places the same value on a game one holds dear when compared to other available games, when most games are, as Elementalistly would put it, damn fine games.
If a game has provided a person with what he needs and values most in his leisure, then that should be enough, and few should remain disappointed if they have enjoyed their time, found their personal tastes to be more attuned towards something else, and moved on. If a person has found a game wanting and moved on, respecting that others may find a game more to their liking than he, then is he not an upstanding member of the gaming community at large for being mature enough to cut ties cleanly without blaming someone for purchasing something that ultimately did not agree with him, regardless of how much or how little time he spent playing the game?
It is only when one sounds the death knell of hostile criticism and negativity upon leaving that I become concerned for the well-being of a community. With that point, I must say, if we took negativity from all comers as a sign of the impending doom of the things we love, then what are we truly left with other than disconcerting emotions and an utterly useless Street Fighter: The Movie analogy?