How Playing MMORPGs Changed Me As A Gamer
I was browsing over a website today and saw an article titled “How Playing MMOs Changed Me as a Gamer”, and it definitely got me thinking.
I’ve been playing MMOs, or more specifically MMORPGs since 2005. That is 13 years as of 2018.
I originally started playing MMORPGs as a teenager and have seen many MMORPGs rise and fall over that time.
Over that time the MMORPG genre itself has changed drastically. As have I.
The article in question, published by MMOBro – since I neglected to point that out earlier – went on to talk about reflecting on how their time playing MMORPGs changed them, and I can relate.
How I play, the reason behind playing overall, what I do while playing.. generally, as a gamer – as a whole, even, I’ve changed quite significantly.
The Leveling Experience, Endgame And PvP
When I used to play MMORPGs – and I’ll go ahead and list my first two here since they’re the two that impacted my life the most: Tales of Pirates and Perfect World, I always made it a goal to hit endgame as soon as I could.
I joined MMORPGs back as a teenager and attempted to get to the end of the game as fast as possible so I could join the “ranks of the elite”, as it were.
I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be better than everyone else, and so I made an effort to avoid anything but grinding to get that small margin ahead of everyone else.
Granted – at the time, there were plenty of players already at endgame, but that didn’t stop me in the least. It further went on to provide an incentive for me to get my ass in gear and get there that much faster.
In doing so, I would tend to ignore what each game had to offer: I ignored their large worlds, I ignored the social aspects of an MMORPG like talking and grouping, I ignored forming relationships with people and guilds.
I tackled it like a single player game. I did everything myself, and I rushed as fast as possible – ignoring everything and everyone else.
Admittedly, that is what this generation of gamers seem to sway towards doing as well and MMORPGs are pushing that same mentality onto its players by making them so easy and casual.
Upon the eventual obtaining of my ultimate goal – endgame; what I wanted evolved into something more.. egotistical.
See – both Tales of Pirates and Perfect World were PvP MMORPGs. In Tales of Pirates you could PvP in open-instanced dungeons, arenas and large PvP maps.
Whereas In Perfect World you could participate in open world PvP and large Territory Wars.
Both of these games were a breeding ground for the creation of huge egos, smack talking and children participating in pissing contests. And I loved it.
I loved the idea of competing to show I was better than everyone else.
See, when I first began playing MMORPGs I used them as an escape from an otherwise terrible childhood. I used to play MMORPGs to get away from my real life problems as a child and this gave me an outlet.
PvP game me the outlet I needed. PvP gave me exactly what I wanted.
So PvP became my life at the time. I participated in PvE only as a means to further myself in PvP.
I became thoroughly obsessed with getting the best loot, I spent 12 hours a day, 7 days a week grinding gold to enchant my gear so I could be as competitive as possible.
I was concerned with a slight boost in damage, a slight increase in HP. Anything that could get me that seemingly insignificant margin ahead of everyone else.
I remained on this course for a solid 2 years of playing Tales of Pirates, and that became my obsession when I moved on to Perfect World as well.
After a time however, I grew bored. I was never the best – how could I be? There was always going to be someone better and I’m not ashamed to admit that. However, I was as good as I could be and I was happy with that.
As I moved on to World of Warcraft in 2008, I was introduced to an experience I wasn’t familiar with.
See, what I had been doing all this time was playing through Asian MMORPGs – MMORPGs imported over to the West that were grindy, PvP focused, void of substance.
What World of Warcraft offered me at the time – which was when Wrath of the Lich King was just beginning – was a lore rich world with so much to do, so much to see and so much to learn.
How Story And Engaging Characters Changed How I Looked At The Genre
When I first entered World of Warcraft, I went Blood Elf. Because naturally. They were by far the most attractive race and obviously still are.
I figured going in that it wouldn’t be anything special – but this was “The MMORPG”, as in the MMORPG everyone was playing – the MMORPG that everyone was claiming changed the genre itself.
What I was greeted by upon entering changed what I would want out of MMORPGs forever.
Upon logging in after creating my character for the first time, I witnessed a plethora of players, ubiquitously populating an entire zone.
Players running around, players doing quests, players killing monsters for that little bit of additional XP, players talking and conversing with one another.
I saw life – actual life in an MMORPG, something I hadn’t really taken into consideration was actually a thing based off of what I’d experienced up to this point.
This provoked me to begin conversations with players. This prompted me to actually read a little into what was going on – there were players everywhere talking about what was going on with the story at this point.
So it had me curious, and – inevitably, I began to develop a slight change in my disposition towards story in MMORPGs.
The more I played through World of Warcraft, the more I grew to enjoy the story that was unfolding. I felt like I was a part of what was going on. I enjoyed that for the first time.. An MMORPG made me feel like I had a purpose.
You were met with an ever-growing story that took you over the world, had you meet various characters that either played a part in the grand story unfolding, or played a part in the story of the zone you were in.
Something I hadn’t experienced before.
This helped me understand what happened to each zone, how each zone came to be. Some of the storylines connected with characters from the main story as well, detailing their backstory and giving insight into who they are.
Then you had silly, downright ridiculous characters that to this day are still some of the funniest things I’ve come across in an MMORPG.
Since that point – Blizzard has had an active subscriber in me. I’ve played through World of Warcraft every year since 2008, and I’m an avid fan of Overwatch as well. But that’s beside the point.
I grew to appreciate the story that the game had to offer and the world the game was a part of. I began to enjoy reading through the sillyness of some of the sidequests and the ridiculousness of some of the things that played out.
I felt like with this new sense of appreciation – I could go out and find new MMORPGs that could sate the desire to see and experience new things like WoW allowed me to.
Experiencing Other MMORPGs With New Found Purpose And Appreciation
I left World of Warcraft, having experienced something that changed how I perceived MMORPGs and what I wanted from them, so I began looking through various MMORPGs for something I would like.
I found games like Silk Road Online, Fiesta, FlyFF, Florensia.. yes I’m aware there were a lot of MMORPGs that began with F. I swear that wasn’t intended.
All of them were more or less copy paste clones of each other though.. start off nowhere, with no purpose. Just.. go off and grind. Keep grinding until you’re bored and log off, then come back to grind some more.
I went through so many different MMORPGs looking for something that would allow me to experience what WoW did.
Although nothing gripped me for quite a while like WoW, the fact is that I enjoyed exploring each world I now found myself in.
A lot of the games were fairly similar and offered nothing really in terms of something new or exciting, but that didn’t detract from the fact that overall, I stopped worrying about being the best.
I stopped worrying about rushing to endgame. Instead I enjoyed what each game had to offer. Some games had quirky visuals. Others had unique combat mechanics. The occasional one was hardcore PvP oriented.
Play The Game To Enjoy It, Not Beat It
So learning to enjoy the game is one of the most important lessons I learned.
It’s not about being the best.
It’s not about finishing things first.
It’s about playing the game, finding what you like about it, and enjoying everything it has to offer before you eventually grow tired of it. Because we all do.
Unfortunately no MMORPG is capable of holding your attention forever and thinking otherwise is just inane.
Why I Play MMORPGs Now
Outside of the obvious – being the channel, the reason I play MMORPGs currently is to meet new people, experience new things, and continue my passion.
My wife, Adrienne loves MMORPGs and I love MMORPGs.
We both enjoy progressing through new games because they’re constantly evolving and they always offer you something new to experience.
We enjoy exploring, we enjoy the story, we enjoy running dungeons for new gear and enjoy duking it out in PvP as well.
Granted, neither of us are very good at our classes in any of the games we play but we enjoy them nonetheless.
So to sum all of this up.. how have MMORPGs changed me as a gamer?
Where I would originally rush to hit endgame to attempt to “finish” the game, where I would attempt to be better than everyone else, normally ignoring everything the game had to offer, I now instead appreciate the game.
I appreciate the journey to hit endgame. I appreciate hitting endgame and seeing what it has to offer with my wife. I enjoy looking at everything we’ve done and being satisfied that we’ve explored everything the game can offer us.
How have MMORPGs changed you as a gamer?