The Daily Grind: Do you engage in ‘parallel play’ in MMORPGs?

    
29

Thanks to a random Tweet in my timeline a while back, the term “parallel play” has been rattling around in my brain lately. According to Wikipedia,

“Parallel play is a form of play in which children play adjacent to each other, but do not try to influence one another’s behavior. Children usually play alone during parallel play but are interested in what other children are doing. This usually occurs after the first birthday. It usually involves two or more children in the same room who are interested in the same toy, each seeing the toy as their own. The children do not play together, but alongside each other simply because they are in the same room. […] The image of parallel play is two children playing side by side in a sandbox, each absorbed in his or her game, not interacting with the other.”

The idea is that it’s typically something that small kids do on their own – or are directed to do by educators – before they’re capable of coordinating their play. But I can’t help but see the adult version as being “alone together” play in online games. Unlike the tiny tots in the psychological scenario, MMO gamers are capable of coordinated and cooperative play – but they don’t always want to engage in it. And we’re far from the only people to wonder about this; there was even a study in 2013 that found that parallel competition in video games “resulted in both high enjoyment and future play motivation and high physical intensity” compared to other types of play.

Do you engage in “parallel play” in MMORPGs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
Advertisement

No posts to display

29
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Tom De Laet

Doesn’t every ‘social’ guild provide this experience. Everyone plays the game the way they want, occasionally talking to each other or helping each other out,before going back to what they were doing?

Turing fail
Reader
Patreon Donor
Turing fail

Apparently I parallel IRL as well as play…

Reader
kalech

Yes and I think this is how most people enjoy a lot of things. It’s normal and common, and you’ll find it in a lot more places than just gaming. When I go to ceramics group with a friend, we don’t both sit around trying to shape the same ball of clay. Just because I’m not actively collaborating with the other members of my group doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the group.

I’m reminded of every time I’ve heard someone say that they’d rather study at a school than do online courses, because they miss being around people.

People enjoy being around people, even when not actively interacting. Yes, @every deluded boomer, EVEN young people.

Reader
Michael18

Nice term! I guess it roughly means “together alone”, but without the biased connotation.

Reader
Croquantes

Parallel play can describe basically most Minecraft servers. Usually the only time you run into other people is when you’re scoping out their bases or they’re scoping out yours. Sometimes people get together for public builds like the spawn point but those are exceptions and not the norm.

EmberStar
Reader
EmberStar

It sort of seems like this would be my default state in online games. I don’t normally team with strangers if I can avoid it. I’ll open chat sometimes and answer questions – in fact I become slightly more likely to do so when someone seems genuinely new and gets “go google it, noob” as a response to something that’s not *that* difficult to explain. I tend to mostly just do whatever it is I’m doing, by myself. Although I *will* offer to help someone I can see if they seem like they might need it.

“You um… you’ve got a lot of Space Weasels chewing on your head. Would you like a hand getting rid of some of those?”

I did play Space Engineers on one of the Official Servers for a while last year, and I guess “parallel play” is as good a description as any for how that went. I took my little starting ship, flew as far *away* from any of the planets as I could, and then spent a few weeks out in the middle of nowhere mining and building myself some better ships. I eventually got to the point where I had enough resources that I started building ships I didn’t really need, just for something to do.

Since that game has a hard cap on how many “points” of ships you’re allowed to have, I ended up just giving them away. Nothing groundbreaking, they weren’t battlecruisers or massive trade freighters. Just “better than the default starting ship” sorts of designs. I gave one to someone who claimed to have been wiped out by one of the PVP gankers that was creeping around. I had spent a while just chatting with someone in a private text channel, and they mentioned that a friend of theirs wanted to play – they got a ship. I gave another to a faction that was directly fighting one of the PVP gankers… and apparently earned an in-game death mark with the PVP ganker faction for it.

But mostly I just stayed at my little hidden asteroid base way, way out in deep space and built stuff to sell to the NPC trade stations to earn credits. I suppose I could have *sold* my excess ships to other players, but I built them just because I could – I didn’t need them, and since Official Space Engineers servers don’t allow script blocks I couldn’t actually fly more than one at a time anyway.

Reader
Bryan Correll

“go google it, noob” as a response to something that’s not *that* difficult to explain.

Those people really piss me off. They put more effort into belittling the person asking than it would take to just answer them. There isn’t an MMO out there that doesn’t need new players (except maybe FF14 in the current climate since they can’t accommodate the inrush they’re already getting) and you don’t keep them by insulting them.

Reader
Barnoc N'Draak

Yeah, probably. Kind of like the whole ambient sociability discussion from a few years ago.

I tend to drop in and out when I have time, so anything more structured is usually a little stressful.

It’s one thing to be polite to the people around you but it’s another to feel like you’re on a team that’s depending on you.

Reader
SmiteDoctor

Isn’t that basically what Open World content is in GW2, If that’s the case then I’m all about it?

Reader
Jon Wax

Whatever consenting adults do behind closed doors is up to them. We don’t judge.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Ashfyn Ninegold

Yup. Occasionally while in the sandbox with other kids, I’ll hand one a shovel or a bucket they need, put an arrow in an orc or veer off a quest mob I can see they are after, but otherwise I try not to interfere with the fun other kids are making for themselves.