A few weeks ago, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote about the intersection of social anxiety and MMOs. It was a surprisingly popular article, with gamers coming out of the woodwork to post about the stress of PUGging with total strangers in particular. A number of you recommended specific tools to help shybies survive in harsh online worlds (and others to avoid completely, like damage meters — the last thing a shy or anxious person needs in a pick-up group is judgy strangers yelling at him over deeps). Actually, I was quite impressed with our community’s response to that post because it never veered into “shyness is a problem and you should fix it” territory. Kudos.
But it did make me wonder about which MMOs are best suited for folks with social anxiety or who are shy, people who want to play in these fantasy worlds but are held back in some way by nerves or stress. I’m thinking the ones with really great tools for grouping and communication would apply; let’s nix games whose content virtually requires voice chat, for a start, or games that refuse to implement group- and guild-finders. Games with face-to-face-trade-or-bust are probably out too. I’m thinking that making social experiences low-stress and easy is the key; how great was it to walk into a Star Wars Galaxies cantina and just click on a musician for a buff, interacting without being required to rush into chat? How about getting a “run” in classic Guild Wars, where all you had to do was stand there and chit-chat while everyone’s goals were achieved?
What do you think is the best MMORPG for shy gamers or gamers with social anxiety?