A few weeks ago, there was a supremely contentious thread on the MMORPG subreddit, one so contentious that the original poster deleted the thread and his account after being hassled and tone policed in the replies. Its title asserts that “nuking all forms of wikis/guides would actually improve” our genre. “I truly do think the MMO genre has an over reliance on these,” the post explains. “I actually sometimes find it hard to enjoy MMOs now because many of them are built with the knowledge in mind that players will know everything and everything will be found.”
“I really never-ever like using wikis or anything unless I absolutely have to. I feel like it ruins my experience and my journey. But it feels like more and more games are just embracing that, just accepting it as a fact. […] This seems to infect basically every game I have. All of these games advertise that you can build your character how you want, play how you want! But you really can’t, if you aren’t playing the most optimal builds of the latest patch you can go **** yourself. There is a vast world for exploration and discovery! But all games just tell you everything about the world anyways. The games advertise player-driven economies and an elaborate marketplace! Except that everybody knows the few best money-making methods. […] I know its not something feasible or something that could ever be done, but I feel like all of this min-max and “race to the end game” attitudes I’ve seen have sort of ruined the MMO genre. I can’t ever ‘experience’ a game. I can only ‘optimize’ it.”
I wish the OP hadn’t felt he had to delete it because his rationales are completely fair and the replies equating his argument to burning history books are dumb. This guy is right: Part of the joy of old MMORPGs was not knowing what the heck you were doing, and more importantly, being immersed in a world where most other people also didn’t know what the heck they were doing. And though even in the earliest MMOs like Ultima Online and EverQuest there were online databases and printable maps, it still felt really different from 2020, when a lot of people just won’t even do content at all without guides or optimized gearscores, as if they’re paralyzed, trained to not just play for playing’s sake.
I think there are really good examples on both ends of the “knowing too much is bad, actually” spectrum. I’m not a big fan of combat parsers, for example, despite having used them for years. Outside of a few specialized elite endgame and PvP cases, most of the time those parsers provide unnecessary and easily misused information to people who will without fail use their half-understanding of that information to be jerks to other people in content that really doesn’t require elitism. On the flip side, there’s something like a global auction hall and global pricing information, which as I just argued on Napyet’s podcast actually equalizes the playing field for newbies in a game economy and is therefore a net positive.
The downside here is that just recognizing that too much information can rob you of joy doesn’t actually solve the problem. We can’t actually delete all the wikis, and I don’t think he was proposing anyone try. He was simply lamenting that they’ve changed gaming, and not for the better.
Where do you stand – would we all be better off without MMO wikis and guides?