The Daily Grind: Have you ever joined a volunteer guide program in an MMORPG?

I am not supporting this lizard-shooting quest.

The recent Anarchy Online debacle, whereby Funcom dumped its long-running Advisors of Rubi-Ka volunteer program with very little notice, really irked me, even as someone who hasn’t touched AO in over a decade. I’ve been playing MMORPGs since the dawn of Ultima Online, and so I “grew up” in MMOs that had legions of guides and counselors and player representatives, a whole tier of players who helped out. And cheated sometimes, perhaps, but that was part of the cost, and the net positives of the system always seemed worth a few dings to me.

Nowadays, when startups talk about taking on volunteers to help them get a foot in the game industry or save on costs, it upsets me because it seems abusive, but the early genre’s volunteer programs seemed less exploitative and more like a coveted status. I’m torn now. But not torn on ARK because I know darn good and well Anarchy Online had long since tipped over into the stage of letting the players keep it going for themselves, which is perfectly fine with me. Taking those tools from players seems like signing a death warrant.

Enough grumping from me. I’m curious – have our readers ever participated in any of these volunteer programs over the years? Did it feel exploitative? And if you’ve never done it, did you ever have any encounters with gamers who did?

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!
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