Massively Overthinking: Self-imposed ‘rules’ for MMOs


I have a couple of rules of thumb when it comes to MMOs. When I start thinking about watching a video while playing an MMO, it’s boring enough to be over and I should move on. I don’t buy gambleboxes, ever, no matter how much I want the foozle. I turn off toxic general chats because nobody there is going to say anything that helps me grow as a human. And I try to play the way I want to play, not how the game is pushing me to play, because this is supposed to be fun and I don’t work for a game.

I don’t really think hard about these rules or put MMOs through a checklist, but these are the things that guide my basic play.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I thought it would be interesting to hear what self-imposed “rules” our writers and readers have. Do you have time limits? Rules about guild participation? Content you won’t do? Let’s hear it.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I think these days, the big rule for me and clear-cut MMO is “Will this positively affect how I deal with other people in the real world?” Especially during the pandemic, I need to make sure that the game(s) I’m playing are going to help my social needs. It’s probably a big factor in me playing smaller-scale online games, as they tend to be more accessible for the general population. Sadly, at this point in my life, most of the MMO players I gamed with seem to largely play intense games I couldn’t hope to bring a RL friend in to play, or they’re not playing anything anymore. Oh, except for my brother, but I just can’t get excited for WoW Classic and even he’s sounding burnt out. We’ll see how Crowfall goes, though!

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): Not buying gambleboxes is one that springs immediately to mind. It’s a holdover from one of my real-life rules: Know what you’re buying. I don’t buy the “mystery flavor” Doritos for $5, so why would I buy the mystery game shiny for potentially much more?

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): In addition to my rules above, I have more that are a little more granular! I seldom Kickstart MMOs and definitely not games that have a wisp of dodginess to them. I don’t do overt gankboxes anymore no matter how interesting the rest of the mechanics are (I did my time and got the t-shirt; nobody’s doing anything that wasn’t already done 20 years ago, I promise). And I usually won’t bother with betas unless I want to see something specific for an article. Oh, and if a studio’s acting like trash, I take a break from its games. It’s not a formal boycott or anything; I just don’t like feeling dirty when I game.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): The only personal rule I have when it comes to MMOs is that if I find a punnable opportunity, I take it.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Honestly, I’m having a hard time answering this question. I generally go with the flow for the most part, though there are certain habits I have like disengaging global chat and trying to come up with a vaguely lore-appropriate character name (just in case RP is encouraged or proliferous enough).

I guess the only self-imposed rule is to try not to worry about what waits at endgame, assuming an MMO has one. Metas and raid requirements and demands of gear score are alnost nothing of consequence to me, and if I find a game is that limiting, then I move on.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I don’t play if it becomes a chore or an obligation. I don’t raid. I don’t do Elves. And I try really hard not to let FOMO or peer pressure keep me from playing what I actually want to play.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): My main self-imposed rule is to never join a guild run by someone else. I started my MMORPG journey in one, and while I met a couple life-long best friends (and birthday twin to boot!) and some amazing memories, the inevitable drama fallout that came with it nearly broke me. Even though I helped run the guild, I had to deal with a scary copycat and the wrath of a guild leader whose advances were rebuffed — both things that blasted into my real life. I literally fled to another game and holed up with my best friend. By running my small and cozy guilds, I can keep a lid on drama and toss out those who want to inject it. I did relent and break this rule once for Aion, and while I have good memories there as well, adding a psychotic and paranoid wife of the leader who targeted all women in the guild in game and IRL as well… and yeah. Just, no. Even if I am a guild of one, I am not going to give up control of who has that kind of access to me and my game experience.

Another steadfast rule of thumb is that I keep my private and roleplay and my streaming/public characters completely separate! See aversion to drama reasons above. The last thing I want is someone from RP to hunt down the real me, nor do I want my private play to reflect on my workplace. Other rules of thumb ebb and flow with the needs a situation/game brings up. Watch, I will remember three more the moment this gets posted…

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I promise I’m not saying this because I’m the PvP columnist, but I always start my inspection of an MMO by checking out what sort of PvP will be available. If there isn’t any, I basically write the game off. It takes a Herculean effort by my friends to convince me to still look into it more.

Next, the game needs to have a gear cap or some method of capping max player stats so that strength isn’t determined by when you started playing.

As far as content I won’t do, it kind of ties into time limits. I basically won’t look at content that a single session needs to go over two hours. I typically don’t have that much time available at a single sitdown without interruptions, and I can’t put that on other players to deal with.

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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