Last week, down in the comments of an innocuous post about gamers being nice in Fortnite, a couple of MOP commenters requested a column where MMO gamers could essentially submit “stories about random good interactions [they’ve] had with other players.” Skeptical me is doubting the viability of a column like that; after all, we already do a lot of positive coverage of charities, events, good deeds, and even obituaries for devs, and that’s just not the stuff most people click on. (Patches are the big ones, although controversies are big too for obvious reasons. And One Shots and WRUP are still great!)
But I’d certainly like to be wrong. “Positive news” websites do indeed exist in the real world and can be truly inspiring, so maybe “Massively Overjoyed” would have some traction too. We thought we’d put it to the test here in Overthinking: I’ve asked the writers to share one story about a great random interaction they’ve had with another player. And then I’ll invite you all to do the same thing down in the comments. How much do you really want to hear about the positive stuff?
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I’ll do two, actually. The first is pretty mundane. I was playing Rend and getting my butt kicked while starving to death. Since the game has factions, some geared-out ally ran up, shot my piggy full of arrows, and ran away, allowing me to chop it up and try to cook up some life-saving grub (it failed). It’s a small thing, but when you play a lot of survival games, you become accustomed to being ignored at best, slaughtered (and maybe even eaten) at worst. To have someone actually save my life and not ask for something in return feels like a big deal in these games.
The other, naturally, is from Pokemon Go. At a recent event raid, a resident of our community and someone who works at the University I formerly attended/worked finally got to attend her first raid. This is also the first time we met her. Not only was she able to get her first Mewtwo, but we then took her down the street to get her Regice, a legendary Pokemon that was literally minutes away from being cycled out. I invited her to join our group, especially since there was another event happening over the weekend. Not only did she turn out for the event, but her adult daughter decided to come out as well. Not only did I enjoy helping out a player in my local community, but I also found out various departments in my University actually have their own Pokemon Go discord channels, with the Engineering department naturally being rather hardcore. I may have to ask some of my former teachers if the Linguistics department has a channel!
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): The most recent story I’ve got happened on the Star Wars Galaxies emulator I’ve been playing on this month. Before I’d finished off my own entertainer, I trucked my bedraggled crafter into the cantina for an experience buff from a live dancer, who granted my buff and then generously refused to accept my tip because I wasn’t max level and was obviously a new player as well as a newbie. She was super nice about it too!
I’d be tempted to think that’s just a product of playing on an emulator for a sunsetted MMO; there’s definitely a feeling of solidarity there, of looking out for the newbies, but I’ve met people just as kind on live servers throughout the years. The City of Heroes taxibots, the Guild Wars runners, the Ultima Online guild that had a whole house full of donated loot for new players, the people who run zergs all over Guild Wars 2 so everyone can participate. That one uberguild dude in World of Warcraft who joined our guild foursome as a lone PUG person and spent the whole time complimenting us on our teamwork and clutch healing – I still remember that guy all these years later. Oh, and the We Drop Stuff people in Glitch, who hid neat things all over the game world for other people to find in a sort of ad hoc treasure hunt. There are so many ways to be positive in MMO worlds.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Oh geez, where to start? There are so many over the years really that I am having a time just picking one. These are often how I happen up great friends that I still have today as well as ways I can hope that gaming isn’t a doomed community. Here’s one involving the game that brought me to MOP.
Back in my early Aion days, I was a lower-level Elyos adventuring and gathering in Eltnen, which is a fairly low -level zone. After getting fairly far from the hub, I happened upon a very red, much-higher-than-me Asmodian who had rifted in. I was sure I was going to die. Instead, this Asmo set up a shop (there is no cross-faction chat but to get around it you could set up shop and type messages into your store banner that showed) and assured me he wouldn’t bother me — he was there for gathering and wasn’t interested in ganking a lowbie. Now, if a higher level came around he was going to be all for it. Using the store mode we chatted for a bit and it was a very pleasant exchange. But what struck me even more was that when another higher-level Asmo came through and was about to trounce me this first Asmo, who went silent for a minute, came back to say via store he spoke with the other and asked him to leave me alone pointing out that it would be far from a fair fight. And the newcomer agreed. Moments like this emphasize the difference between PvP and ganking.
Just a quick other in the same vein: When a friend and I wanted to rift for the first time from Etlnen into Asmodian territory, we shouted out for any who wanted to group and join us. One person did, and we ventured over into the danger. When things got super intense, this newcomer never abandoned us or went every-Elyos-for-himself, but stuck with us defending and helping us try to escape. It was the best experience ever, and that person became and still is one of my closest friends to this day.
Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): Oh jeez, that column would be amazing… sign me up to collate the feel-good, please! Imagine a column where we had such a splendid pile of evidence of the goodness found in online societies in the form of screenshots and first-person accounts: That’d be a great resource for those who try to analyse those exchanges. Heck, it’d just be amazing to remind players in general why social mechanics are some of the most important in MMOs. It’d sure be a nice change from Guild Chat, right?
More on-topic, I’m very happy to say that the majority of my MMO interactions have been positive and I could ramble on for quite a while about good stories. I feel that my time in Guild Wars 2 is probably the most positive in terms of feel-good interactions with strangers: You only have to hang out for a moment in Lion’s Arch during a busy spell to see people congratulating each other on crafting legendaries, throwing dyes to each other to have everyone’s characters match, or having costume brawls in the city streets. There is fun to be found around every corner, and that’s why it’s such a special MMO.
I’ll share the most recent positive interaction I had in-game. I love to do world boss trains in GW2 because it is a fantastic way to meet new players and encourage them to explore, collaborate, and find more players to help them out. One of my guild slots is taken up by a very large world boss run guild, and its leaders run this squad at reset daily. One member of the guild who regularly joins the squad had taken quite a leave of absence and returned recently, and when she joined chat the first thing she was greeted with was a wall of welcome back messages. She said her inbox was equally filled with messages checking in with her, so she was just blown away that so many people had not only noticed her absence, but had taken the time to wish her well or welcome her back.