Massively Overthinking: Are you susceptible to second-hand MMO hype?


So there’s a thing going around the MOP virtual offices lately: Elite Dangerous hype. Between Chris and Ben especially, the excitement for Odyssey is palpable. I didn’t do a formal headcount, but I bet half our staff seems to be hyped for it, and the other half is watching it with a curious eye. This doesn’t happen for every MMO, I can assure you.

Now, Elite Dangerous is one of my husband’s core games, and I’ve watched him play a lot, but I’ve never dipped my own toe in. And yet watching people I know and trust like Chris ramp up in enthusiasm for it, I can’t help but reconsider whether maybe I shouldn’t be in there too. They’re rubbing off on me – it’s like second-hand hype.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I wanted to talk about that concept. I don’t want to call it peer pressure because I don’t think anyone’s really pressuring anyone else, nor do I think I’d be judged if I didn’t go along with the Popular Thing. Are you susceptible to second-hand MMO hype? What games have you been sucked into thanks to a groundswell of hype or excitement for an MMO? And who usually does the hyping that sucks you in?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I don’t feel like I’ve ever had second-hand hype, especially for an MMO. I may give it, but never receive. I think a big part of it is that I’ve always been that I’m fairly critical, even of my own hype. That doesn’t mean I won’t try out a game people around me are playing; it’s more that I want to play with friends more than any real excitement over the game. With the latter, that’s been nearly every Blizzard game I’ve played except for Hearthstone, since I guess I had needed to feed my TCG roots, which did lead me to trying out Hex (RIP).

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): I’m susceptible in a couple of different ways. If I see a game mentioned by several people within my gaming/Twitter circles, I’m more apt to give it a serious look. Besides that, the script has flipped a bit in my household. My kids are now old enough and have enough free time that they are better at keeping tabs on gaming trends than I am. Thus, on occasion, I have been introduced to/influenced to try a game by them!

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I am – but only from specific people. Our team for sure. My guildies. My kids, even, to an extent. And a handful of people on social media I follow and respect. I’d like to say I don’t follow the herd, but in reality I just follow a very small hand-picked herd, and if people I trust say, the thing is good and fun and you should play, I at least want to, even if I don’t have the time or dough for it right away. Heck, I’m in SWG Legends right now literally because commenters I trusted said it was a good egg three years ago. And they were right!

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I 100% have been sucked in to second-hand hype. The most recent instance of this was with Guild Wars 2, specifically the release of Path of Fire, which had all of the things I cared to see in the game — mounts, somewhere that wasn’t Heart of Thorns, and an interesting Guardian epic spec — and had me buy in shortly after details were expounded upon. Looking back, I don’t think I regret being drawn in to that whirlpool because GW2 continues to be one of those “never say never” games I keep on my system, but I also appreciate how susceptible I am to hype. Just something about that shared communal buzz that makes me happy, you know?

In fact, even if I end up falling back out of the hype train, I typically look forward to moments like that. People should be allowed and encouraged to be excited for new things in their favorite game, and as a person who usually tries to find the joy in MMOs (or at least the good parts of them), I think it’s impossible to not delight in second-hand MMO hype, particularly among peers, friends, or even the nebulous community wave.

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): I am definitely one to go in for the game I am hearing about around me, as long as it is in a genre I enjoy. No amount of hype for a shooter is going to pull me in, but if everyone is talking about one strategy, simulation, or roleplaying game (MMO or otherwise), I will definitely check it out. It helps that my exposure to game hype is limited to MOP comments, a few podcasts, Discord channels, and family members.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): True confessions here! I know I am an oddball, but I am the opposite. I am all for folks being excited about things and sharing their excitement, but that doesn’t do much to influence how much I want something. My own hype is highly personal. In fact, if there is a real hype train for a game rolling along that I wasn’t already interested in, I am more likely to steer clear of those tracks and ignore it. I tend to reject the Popular Thing. It is in my nature and how I have always been: I would just lose interest in things when they suddenly became the thing everyone was doing. (RIP globe earrings.) I am that way for everything really, not just games. There is one popular book series that I still have never touched. And yes, all the “everyone’s doing it” for a certain game that shall not be named sealed its fate as a never-to-be-touched.

Beyond not really being affected by second-hand hype, I know there is an easy and quick way to get me not to like something: telling me I should! This really gets under my skin. It all stems from me having a complete aversion to folks telling me what I have to do/like. And by aversion, I mean I instantly and reflexively do a 180. Example: When young, my mom walked by as I was cleaning my room and told me to clean my room. My response? I immediately dropped what I was holding and stopped. Phrasing here really matters; insisting I do/say/feel something is a dependable way to get the opposite. You can guess my reaction when a coworker many years ago told me that if I had any intelligence I’d read Harry Potter. I recognize that I am innately contrarian (even when I read something like “Don’t touch the glass,” often my very first fleeting desire is to touch the glass!), and I have to work to overcome that so my reaction isn’t so strong. I mean, there are times and places where people need to tell you what to do — laws, jobs, safety — and you need to do it! Thankfully I am better now at just ignoring, but sometimes I still react by doing the 180 flip. (And no, I can see through your reverse psychology, so that won’t work!)

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I am totally susceptible here. The first few messages about a game that people are excited about, I can usually appreciate and move on. But then it comes up again, and again, and again, and suddenly I am seriously thinking about playing too.

Elite Dangerous just isn’t my typical genre. I love high-fantasy, but science-fiction has always been pretty “meh” for me. So I normally wouldn’t look at it twice. But it sounds like folks are having so much fun! All the while I’m over here just begging for something to hold my attention for more than a week.

So yes, I can be swayed as much by other people’s hype as I can my own.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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