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?