Today we’re going to play a game I like to call “I saw a cool thread on Reddit months ago and saved the link, but by the time I got around to reading it, the OP had been voted down to oblivion and deleted the whole thing.” It happens a lot around there. This time, it was a Reddit thread that declared “MMOs are too focused on making players suffer instead of having fun.” The author deleted everything but the title, so I’m not going to dive into his points, only his thesis because I think it’s worth some discussion.
I’ve argued before that harder-core roguelikes are absolutely masochistic, and some of that intentional death and punishing grind has always spilled over into online RPGs. I still think that way. Some MMOs tear you down and make you build yourself back up, only to tear you down again with death, with destruction of property, or even with gear and level resets that come with expansion content. Maybe you could say that the “suffering” is part of the friction of the game world that makes it challenging and engaging, at least for certain types of gamers, but it does mean that in a very real sense many MMOs are focused on creating just enough suffering that you’re willing to keep trying and striving rather than just quitting.
What do you think – are MMOs obsessed with suffering?