We have some fun here in Perfect Ten land dealing with lists. That’s kind of the whole point. We’ve done columns about the races of every MMO, the classes, even the stock bestiary of every MMO. But there’s an important element that I don’t think we’ve ever tackled before: the players you find in every MMO. (If we have done that, don’t tell me. I was proud of myself for coming up with this topic and so we’ve all agreed to just let me have this.)
You might think that every player type is prevalent in every MMO, even though, say, hardcore PvP players don’t really exist in Final Fantasy XI. Or you might think that this is more about content enjoyed, like the progression players showing up in every game. But that’s not really what I’m talking about here. No, this is much more about the attitudes that show up very consistently across games, and sometimes they overlap rather notably. You’ve almost certainly met them. Heck, you are quite probably one of them. So, you know… tag yourself.
1. The perpetually clueless
MMOs are big and complicated, and some people choose to deal with all of that complexity by never having an idea of what in the hell is going on. Some of these people are, of course, new to the game or returning after a long absence, and they thus have an excuse for not knowing things. But some people go beyond that. Even when told what they need to know, these players are ones who simply hear it, file it away in a little bin marked “to be ignored,” and then ask the same question in a couple days’ time at most.
They frequently overlap with other player types, and there’s nothing like someone who has no idea what he’s talking about going on an extend rant about the right way to play the game, let me tell you.
2. The focused player
For this player, the game consists of two kinds of content: what he cares about and everything else. Everything else is irrelevant, stupid, and basically wasted development time. What he cares about is always not being given enough attention. This is true even if the content in question is enjoyed by a vanishingly small percent of the playerbase and what he thinks is irrelevant is what actually keeps people in the game.
Woe betide the studio that sees someone like this and thinks, “He’s the guy to keep our game afloat.” It rarely ends well.
3. The roleplayer
Even by the standards of other MMO players, these are nerds. These are people who have a huge amount of fiction in their heads about their characters, what they represent, how they grew up, what they like, and so forth. And it’s amazing. You meet a roleplayer and she cares so much about her character that she has poured her heart into this fictional person, and it’s so good and wonderful. Come on, this is me writing this column, what did you expect?
Her personal life is probably a mess, but here in this corner of fiction she’s thriving, and that’s wonderful.
4. The joker
You know this guy. You probably don’t like this guy. This guy is the one who says that you’re taking the game too seriously. He’s probably screwing things up because he thinks it’s funny “just to see what happens” when the run had otherwise been going well. He’s got a name that’s some kind of meme. He’s just generally trolling you all over the place because, you know, it’s “just a game.”
This guy is also usually some combination of perpetually clueless, drill sergeant, and/or not actually very funny to begin with. I do not like him.
5. The merchant
The old joke about MMOs is that you win the game by finding a number and making it go higher. This player saw a number on her character screen representing how much money she had. She wants to make it go higher. And by gum, she is going to do whatever needs to be done to make that happen. Whatever can be sold will be. Whatever goes into making gold will be done. The money will be made, and no matter how worthless it might be in the larger scheme of things, she will end her play time sitting on a truly massive pile of in-game currency.
No, you can not have it when she quits.
6. The guest star
Some people just don’t have a whole lot of staying power in MMOs for one reason or another. They’re like guest stars. They show up, play for a month or two, then they’re off to the next shiny thing to look for some enjoyment there. Those of us who tend to not flit around see them as flighty. They see it as having a more diverse set of experiences. They can overlap with a lot of groups, but being as they’re usually only around every so often, it’s a more vague association than normal.
7. The drill sergeant
Do you know how to do this content? Well, this guy will tell you! He’ll tell you with curse words! He’ll berate you if you fail! He can easily overlap with being either the joker or perpetually clueless, this making him someone who is very loud, very insistent on how you’re supposed to do things, very angry if you contradict him, and also very, very wrong about almost everything!
Life is hilarious!
8. The butterfly
Where the guest star flits from game to game and never really settles down, the butterfly is stuck in one particular game. He’s the opposite of the focused player, though. He lights on something for a while, gets his feet wet, then he’s fluttering off to the next thing and treating it like this is going to be his thing from now on.
“So, wait, those two player types can’t overlap?” Oh, they absolutely can. You can absolutely have a focused player who flits to a type of content, goes absolutely ham on it for a few weeks, then totally abandons it after not too much time to become equally focused on something else within the game. At least he seems to be having fun.
9. The accomplished
Some people just have the gift. They know what they’re doing and who they are. They may overlap with other types, but they may simply be just… accomplished. They’ve got a lot of the game behind them, a lot of things done, lots of stuff unlocked, and lots of experiences over time. These are the people who stick with the game, stick with content, and stick it out through thick and thin when things get tough.
Of course, these players can also be perpetually clueless and just blithely succeeding through luck. But at least it’s accomplished luck.
10. The bitter ex
There is always someone in Game X whose sole purpose seems to be to state that Game Y sucks. Doesn’t matter what. I’m pretty sure even Ultima Online had these players whining about MUSHes. Just accept it and move on.