Massively Overthinking: Do you have a ‘mental block’ in MMORPGs?


Back in June, MMO blogger Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut penned a fun blog about having had a mental block against tanking.

“Something happened though during Shadowbringers that sort of broke me. I am not sure how or why it happened, but I stopped being willing to queue for random groups with strangers. I would still be willing to tank for my friends, but those groups became fewer and further apart. Instead, I started spending most of my time on a DPS alt, because it didn’t really require anything of me to join a group and blend in. I am not sure if it was my lack of willingness to take responsibility for the success or failure of a group, or that the community as a whole was feeling less friendly than it did previously. Whatever the case I developed a mental block against tanking that held for roughly five years.”

The good news is that he’s broken his block (and you’ll have to go read his piece to hear the whole story). But this is Massively Overthinking, so naturally we’re going to Overthink it. I’ve asked our team whether they have a mental block against something in MMOs, either in the past or currently. What is it, how did it come about, and if you’ve broken it, how did you do it?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I guess I could kind of say I’m that way with my PC MMOs these days. I like a lot of the concepts, but as a lot of my meat-space friends and guildies have moved on/out of gaming (MMOs) or reverted to shiver just WoW, I’ve needed my MMOs and online multiplayer to be more mobile-friendly. You’d think COVID would have been the perfect time to MMO, but between Animal Crossing exploding into mainstream, Jackbox at home parties, and Pokemon GO making itself more user-friendly (RIP lockdown-era Niantic, you were the best), it felt like I was getting a good dose of online multiplayer that was more broadly accessible and understandable to a wider variety of people than when I was playing Darkfall or Project Gorgon.

This has gotten worse since getting my new pup, as she may sound the call to action at any moment, or friends will suddenly have time to help me with pup-projects (she’s gonna be big, so she really needs to be well-socialized). Don’t get me wrong, there are still good PC-based MMOs. I still wanna try more Throne and Liberty, and despite never liking Monster Hunter PC ports, I’ll most likely jump in with Wilds, but being bound even to my gaming laptop, which needs an external cooling unit, is just too restrictive for me these days. Maybe if I found a meatspace circle of PC gamers after my pup has grown and gotten into a regular schedule things could shift, but until then, my phone and consoles will be getting a workout.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I definitely have a mental block against joining new guilds. I have been in the same guild of friends for such a long time that joining other guilds just feels super weird to me, even if I’m the only one of us playing. It’s not that it feels disloyal or anything, just that I was used to a certain level of deep familiarity and love and trust with my guildies, so joining other guilds elsewhere feels superficial and hollow, like I’m using them or something if I’m not looking for the same level of friendship. I know it doesn’t make sense.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): I made two new years resolutions this year: listen to my wife more, and take up crafting and more lifeskill things in MMOs. I’m still listening to my wife, but I can’t for the life of me ever get into crafting. I tried. I tried getting into lifeskill things like having a cool house, tried doing some crafting, and attempted gathering professions in various MMOs, but I still cannot do it! So many of my fellow writers seem like they’re having the best of their lives moving their cabinets two inches to the left or finding that nice rock or something, and I feel like I’m missing out but NOPE! I think when it comes to MMOs, I just love whacking things with my stick until one of us dies. Maybe I’m just not built for that kind of stuff.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I 1000% resonate with this because changing from tank to DPS in FFXIV happened to me too for much the same reason – I was tired of being the lynchpin/doormat for PUG content and didn’t want to put up with it anymore. I haven’t been a tank in a PUG in that game since, and more and more it’s feeling like playing that class that I love in other games is a similarly bad idea (I’m looking at you, every grouping experience I’ve had in Elder Scrolls Online so far).

Overall doing that has been a turn for the better in the long run, even if short-term it sort of broke my heart. I’m much happier in FFXIV now ever since doing so, and I can still get some tank good times going through the game’s Duty Support system or tanking with friends and family. I don’t think I’m ever going to break it, either. I don’t want to.

This has happened for entire character concepts as well: Once again I look to FFXIV, when my very first character I made ended up being such a miserable thing to experience both in terms of gameplay and roleplay that I wholesale deleted her and replaced her with my current main. Sometimes the best way to break down a mental block is to destroy it.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): My mental block is against the idea of “Just ignore the quest dialogue, it’s bad,” or more specifically, “The story is bad, but the game is good.” To me, if the plot is nonsensical, the text is poorly written or translated, or the voice acting is amateurish, then in my head, the whole game is bad. It doesn’t even have to be a great story; a lot of Guild Wars 2’s story, especially early on, is just kind of serviceable, and it’s my favorite MMO. Maybe this is less of a mental block and more of a preference? But there have definitely been games that I’ve played that had everything else going for them, but the mediocre storytelling just ruined the whole experience for me.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I have a total mental block against raiding. There’s not even a good reason for it. I think I’m just so self-conscious about drawing attention to myself, and if I do something wrong, I just want to shrink away. It’s definitely uncalled for, but it’s part of me.

I’m doing better trying to join open groups, but I still find myself being scared to draw attention. I don’t know. I’m trying, though. I’m starting slow in my small game raiding with 33 Immortals and Rabbit and Steel. So hopefully that helps me out.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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