The Daily Grind: How much does your reputation matter in a modern MMO?

    
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One of the memes I see repeated a lot when folks are waxing nostalgic about the old days of MMOs is this idea that reputation was something that mattered, that bound communities together, and that structures like LFG, namechanges, and shard-blending wrecked up those communities and made reputation meaningless. I agree to a point when it comes to themeparks and PvE, but I also recall that all it took was for the local toxic uberguild to decide to flip off a blacklist and jump your plane raid to render that intricate web of civility utterly meaningless.

Where I think reputation mattered much more was in sandboxes, particularly the PvP kind. As I once found myself saying, “Part of that was there was no ‘endgame’ PvE construct that turned PvE players into competitive PvE jerks, but part of it was that the toxic PvP jerks were vulnerable to being ganked themselves. The toxic PvE players in [EverQuest] had nothing whatsoever to fear.” Of course, player-driven social reputation systems were vulnerable there too; all it took was for the local band of thugs to overpower everyone else and then nobody was kept in check.

You see the pattern, I’m sure.

Obviously, not all MMOs are like that today. Or are they coming back around? How much would you say your reputation matters in a modern MMO?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Mr.McSleaz

You’re Rep was VERY important in the olden days of FFXI.

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Skoryy

I guess mine does? Sorta? I just try to be the good neighbor Mr. Rogers always thought I was.

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NeoWolf

For me not so much

I much prefer the idea of my character having a reputation (X is great healer or Tank or do you remember when he did that thing during the dungeon run etc..etc.) as opposed to me having a reputation via my character. My IN character and OUT of character are distinctly separate and NOT the same thing.

I prefer to keep everything in character. I do not play ME in games, I do not try to act or speak like ME when im playing my character, I am playing a role and that role is whatever Avatar I made it is not me the player.

In guild chat for example I am me the player, in game chat however I am me the character and I prefer to have them always seen as separate and kept separate I do not like to have them be viewed as the same thing in the same way i like to keep my work and personal lives separate.

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rafael12104

Hmm. Irrespective of the MMO, it matters. Maybe, it is a personal thing. But for me, integrity and reputation go hand in hand. If you have integrity your reputation will reflect that no matter where you are or what you are doing.

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kieranbunny

When me play games,everybody knows me a wabbit..we bunnies don’t worry bout what you hoomans think of us;we just play and try to be helpful.Course we also tell bad jokes and make (very) bad puns..you hoomans seem to get upset at that..WhEEeeeEEE!! ==(:*D

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Bryan Correll

In game terms, probably not very much. But it still matters to me.

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Toy Clown

Reputation is such a fleeting thing on the internet, mostly due to how many “competitive” players there are out there that hate anyone being better at anything that themselves, and over the years I’ve watched people pull some of the more horrible things on other players in order to topple their good reputations. At the same time, I’ve watched players skirt bad reputations by creating new accounts and new characters.

20 years ago reputations meant a lot more than they do now online, back when more people held onto real world values than they do today in gaming.

Now? I just do my best to stay in my little bubble, working hard not to rub elbows with toxic players, and go out of my way to help players genuine in how they ask and act.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Dunbar’s number pretty much says that on a server of thousands of people your reputation is pretty much meaningless. It also says that the idea of server communities are pretty much a lie as well.

If you do a specific thing in a specific area during a specific time frame on a regular basis and that thing requires interaction with others, a small group of people may remember who you are. Maybe a dozen. But if you are inconsistent on any of that, then probably a couple of people, and only if you did something bad to them.

Reputation requires an ongoing relationship. A one-time transaction doesn’t earn you one unless you’re a jerk, and then you’re likely to be muted or blocked and forgotten.

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Hikari Kenzaki

One of the things I liked about Global Names in CoH was that you knew who everyone’s alts were and didn’t have to wonder if it was that person you didn’t get along with or worse.

In RP communities, reputation is a big deal, but as has been said many times already, it’s a dual-edged sword that can be just as damaging. There are people out there who are very good at manipulating public opinion and the good majority of RPers (heck, gamers) are emotionally vulnerable.

I’ve been involved in some truly great RP communities. Mainly CoH and TSW, but they still had their problems. They still had the occasional time when I was on the outside looking in because of one bit of drama or another.

There are many games where I just play the game in my little group and never bother engaging the community as a whole and that works perfectly fine.

But the ones where I’ve been able to join and engage ICly and OOCly have been the richest experiences and those most certainly involved building a reputation.

There’s a reason Hikari is in front here (the person in the bottom left is the GM). She led, people followed.

hk52.jpg
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Bryan Correll

One of the things I liked about Global Names in CoH was that you knew who everyone’s alts were and didn’t have to wonder if it was that person you didn’t get along with or worse

Especially on one of the smaller servers (Victory forever!)

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Leiloni

Reputations matter in tight knit communities, so that varies from game to game. You tend to see it more in server based games with little to no cross server features, but if a community is tight knit enough in cross server or single server games, they can see reputation meaning something there, too.

I find it’s harder in larger games like WoW and FFXIV for anyone to even know anyone else and that’s sad. There’s so many people in the community, and so many cross server functions, that you rarely see the same people twice and there’s no game systems to add any sort of consistency. But in most other games that have smaller but still healthy communities, if the game design supports it, you will know many people and that will matter. Games like GW2 make everyone effectively anonymous and there’s little need to know your fellow gamer or their guild. But in games like Aion, ArcheAge, RIFT, BDO, even Bless Online, you knew more of the people you were gaming with or alongside, and that’s a good thing.

It’s good not just for accountability, but for pure fun’s sake. It’s more enjoyable when you know the community IMO. It makes the game and your server feel more like a home – which as a sidenote, adds that “stickyness” factor to games that we’ve talked about. Communities are important to our well being in real life outside of gaming for a variety of reasons – everyone has various types of communities they belong to, and it’s no different in gaming.