We grouse endlessly when MMORPGs omit mentoring or sidekicking systems — but what about real mentors?
Have you ever had a mentor in an MMO, someone who guided you through a game or helped you navigate a guild or learn your class? If you no longer keep in touch, what would you say to your mentor if you could? I polled our writers about their experiences with having — and being — real gaming mentors in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I’ve introduced dozens of friends to EVE Online over the years, and about half didn’t stick with it for any length of time, but the ones who did were always those I mentored directly. I invited them into my corporation, brought them along on missions or wormhole operations, and in some cases even bought them a PLEX or two to get their accounts on their feet. I also tried my hand at running a training corp for Massively readers, but we focused on PvE, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the middle of a war we weren’t prepared for. When my corp opened as a public faction warfare militia corp back in 2008, we started out as a bunch of complete newbies and some real-life friends who had never engaged in PvP before. It wasn’t long before we were flying suicide gangs of cheap-as-chips tech 1 cruisers and bagging battleship kills and tech 2 cruisers. Some of those newbies went on to join other corps, a few followed us into wormhole expeditions in 2009 and became our most trusted friends, and some ended up quitting the game later anyway. Running a corp full of PvP newbies and smashing veterans over the head with disposable ships was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in an MMO and a great way to bring new people into EVE and show them what it’s really all about.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I had a mentor a long time ago, though he might not have thought of himself as one. He was a loyal and dear friend I made very early on in Ultima Online, and he taught me all the tricks of how to survive and thrive in what was an incredibly brutal world for anyone, let alone a newbie to online games. For a long time, we shared what we earned together in our little UO business, including our grand keep and some of our characters! People just don’t do those things nowadays. Trust is different. We lost touch after EverQuest when he moved back home to the other side of the world and we could no longer play together, but I still miss him dearly, and I wouldn’t be here playing MMOs or writing this without him.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Well, I did mentor someone. She was a good friend, but she’d never played an MMO beforehand, and I was eager for her to play World of Warcraft with me at the time. I even went ahead and bought her a copy of the game, set her up on the same server I was on, introduced her to roleplaying, explained what I knew and then started exploring the game with her. It was a great way for us to keep in contact and grow closer. Our second anniversary is in October.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’ve had experienced guildies definitely help me through tougher spots, such as level 60s doing speed runs with me through Deadmines back in vanilla World of Warcraft. My Guild Wars guild was also instrumental in helping me get through all of the missions to earn those coveted Guild Wars 2 Hall of Monument points. I’ve probably had more assistance in the help of online guides, and I’ve always known that I should be more vocally appreciative of the guys and gals who take a lot of time putting builds and walkthroughs together. I probably owe a lot of understanding in MMOs thanks to those.
Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): I didn’t really have a mentor because my first guilds in MMOs were led by some terrible people. However, there were some great people in a guild I found in Star Wars Galaxies that encouraged roleplay. Not only did I start to have real fun in the game again, but that guild allowed me to stretch my wings. So that’s probably the closest I’ve had to an MMO mentor.
Mike Foster (@MikedotFoster, blog): I didn’t have a specific mentor, but I did join a noob-friendly guild when I first started World of Warcraft. Thanks to helpful guildies, I learned what instances were, how to run them, and which items I should be looking for as a little baby Priest. The guild was dedicated to being helpful and welcoming, and it made a huge difference in how much I enjoyed the game. Although I later left to go into hardcore raiding and eventually became a guild leader myself, those first six or seven months with the guild were the only reason I knew enough to consider either. Everything I learned about WoW from 1-60 was learned though that guild. I’d mostly just say thanks. Huge, huge thanks. After all, my guildies helped me build an expertise that landed me a job at Blizzard, which in turn led me to where I am today. That’s pretty dang rad. Hugs and kisses, CTS Dojo.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): When I started in Star Wars Galaxies, I knew little about the game other than a fact my friend (whom I’d just moved across the country from) was playing it. He helped me develop my backstory, told me a good place to start, and off I went. The funny thing is with our time and work schedule differences, we hardly played together! From that point on, it was a series of just good players and friends throughout games who would share with me the expertise they had in whatever area I was lacking. So I never had a specific mentor per se, but I did have many smaller experiences of folks sharing knowledge and being helpful. Maybe it was taking me through my first set of max-level dungeons, or maybe it was giving me tips on Theorycrafting, or maybe even just helping warn me away from trouble spots (or people!). It often turns out that I can share what I am strong in with the same folks who share their skills with me, so it is a mutually beneficial exchange. I really like helping others; it’s often the best part of the game for me. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a mentor, but I really enjoy showing people the ropes, giving them the goodies they need to get started, and sharing enjoyment of the game. At times I grew very close to these in-game friends who became out-of-game friends, and I keep in contact with many still. Some I lost touch with, though I’d love to see how they are, wish them well in life, see what they are playing now, and maybe share a funny story or two from our gaming times.