Perfect Ten: 10 things we’re thankful for in MMO gaming

    
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In my experience, people who invest heavily into being grateful and thankful for blessings don’t have a lot of excess room for negativity and cynicism. They’re also a lot more enjoyable to be around, on the whole. And while I’m never as thankful as I should be in my life, I do try to be more aware of just how good I have it in so many ways — even in gaming.

Yes, for all we bellyache and whine about MMORPGs, studios, and unnecessary nerfs, there is so much we get to enjoy on a daily basis in these games. I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a week to acknowledge the good that’s out there and that keeps us happy and humming along. So let’s put aside our gripes for the time being and see what there is to be thankful for in MMOs!

Oh boy.

Uplifting social circles

I don’t know if anyone’s ever bothered to inform you of this, but there are other people in our MMORPGs. Truly! And some of them are actually quite nice and like to band together for mutual progress and social interactions. It’s so nutty it just might work.

Time and time again, I find that the friendships I make through MMOs (including writing) are the highlights of these games for me. Finding that great group of online pals can make logging in feel like you’re Norm coming down the steps into Cheers. This home-away-from-home is made possible by people, not systems and features.

Passionate developers

Journalists are called to scrutinize and observe devs as part and parcel of our job, but that scrutiny can elicit praise as much as criticism. I love seeing developers and studios who are just as nerdy as we all are, except that they’re in the position to actually make virtual worlds for us to explore. Devs — from the public face of the studio to the unknown artist with his or her nose to the grindstone — pour in so much work into these games, and often it’s done without recognition or thanks. So thank you, devs, for a great year of content and diligent fixes.

Sheer choice

Long, long gone are the days when we only had one business model and around three games from which to choose. Now there’s practically an MMO for every personality, gaming type, budget, genre, and size. And if we aren’t already trying to drink from the fire hose of offerings today, there are dozens upon dozens of additional titles in development for our future. Having this amount of choice is heady and daunting — but it’s also exhilarating!

We’re finally in a post-World of Warcraft clone era

For a good long while after World of Warcraft smashed onto the scene, slavishly trying to copy Blizzard’s winning formula was all MMO studies tried to do. It took years of failed WoW clones to finally divorce the industry from this notion, and even though it was painful to live through, now we’re in an era where we truly are seeing more experimentation and gaming diversity in the genre. Not everything will survive and thrive, of course, but some will. And you can sense the excitement from studios as they are freed from the shackles of WoW to go in new directions.

Budget-friendly gaming

Out of all of my hobbies, MMOs are probably the cheapest. I spent more last year on bikes, books, and TV shows than I did on online games — yet I probably spent more time playing MMOs than engaging in those other activities. If you’re a frugally minded player, there are so many great options for cheap or even free out there, and that is tremendous indeed.

Maturing titles

While brand-new MMO launches are certainly thrilling, I’m finding an ever-increasing appreciation for maturing MMOs these days. Titles that have been around for years enjoy the benefits of more stable design, increased content and features, a dedicated community, and long-running characters and guilds. In no other video game genre do we see titles that are up to 20 or 25 years old still getting regular patches and expansions. In MMORPGs? We certainly do.

Player-friendly design

One of the best trends of the MMORPG genre was getting away from rather unfriendly and obtuse game design and mechanics. Early on, MMOs weren’t the easiest to understand or access, but their novelty and limited selection meant that players had to adapt or else. Since then, we’ve seen a revolution that’s made online games incredibly accessible to all players as these titles have worked hard on better tutorials, friendly designs, and disability helpers.

Rogue servers

Let’s raise a goblet and toast those hard-working volunteers today who are investing a great amount of effort and expertise in game preservation. It used to be that the end of an MMO was just that — the end. Now it is often the start of a groundswell rogue server movement, where the title gets a second (or third or fourth) shot at life. Some of these rogue servers are so good that they’re seen and treated with just as much respect these days as official MMOs.

Long-lasting character journeys

Your character is, in a way, a bank. Or a sponge. Ehh… let’s just say that it’s some sort of depository that collects experiences, achievements, and connections over its lifespan. A hallmark of MMOs is world (and character) persistence, and many of us bost toons that have been with us for years and years now. Being able to go on those lengthy journeys and feel like it all mattered is part of what makes this genre special.

MMO gaming isn’t dead — far from it

It’s long been trendy in certain circles (and on certain subreddits) to decry MMORPGs and predict that they’re dying. Or dead. Or a shambling corpse of former entertainment. It’s the sort of jaded talk that comes from jilted ex-lovers ex-gamers who want to feel better about their decision to leave MMOs. Yet this claim is dashed to pieces on the rocks of reality, where millions of people still play, talk about, and get excited about MMORPGs. Trust me, this is coming from a guy who logs into MassivelyOP’s newsroom every morning to see scads of news pieces ready to be written. A dead genre would never look this alive.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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