Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now listen here younglings!

I’m a first generation MMO player. What that means is that I played MMOs when they first came out so I consider myself one of the founding fathers of the MMO community. Be the current MMO gaming community a good thing or a bad thing, I in a way helped to shape it. Everyone likes to think they are special or important, and while I know that isn’t the case most the time, it is nice to think that out of the first hundred thousand people to play EverQuest, I was one of them. That would probably equate to less than 1% of the current MMO market, but everything had to start somewhere. When I first started playing EverQuest I was 17 years old and only going to school for 3 hours a day for my senior year in High School, time was in abundance. Today things are much different, I’m an adult and a parent.

I’ve had the honor of already experiencing every phase of a gaming play schedule and I’m not even 30 yet. I have played for 18 hours a day for weeks on end and I have played for less than 4 hours a week for periods of time… even months where I simply couldn’t play games. I believe I have a unique outlook on the differences in the social obligations and requirements for every range of casual to hardcore gamer.

I feel like that old man now when I hear people claim to be in a “Hardcore” guild. I’m that old grandpa telling his grandkids that he used to walk up hill 5 miles in snow to get to school. While I know that isn’t the case, the feeling is still the same. You aren’t Hardcore by my standards. Games today are not nearly as time consuming or logistically difficult as they were back in my day, yes I said it “my day” deal with it. I don’t want to go off on a tangent about how easy you younglings have it, that isn’t the point. I will just say that to raid at a high level in EverQuest took exponentially more time and planning than it does in World of Warcraft today.

I’ve also had the misfortune of having my gaming time cut to a few hours a week in the past. When you realize that it is costing you more per minute to play a MMO than it would to go to the movies, because of a limited play time, you know you’ve reached the peak of casual MMO gaming. It’s difficult to accomplish anything and coming from a super hardcore background it was a bit of an ego check. While I did enjoy my time playing it took some time to learn to appreciate the game for what I was able to do with it, a lot of time actually. I had to come to terms with not being able to raid and that I would forever be that “noob” I once looked down upon.

What does all this mean? Well I think it explains why I’m so “middle of the road” on various MMO topics. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin in many different MMOs. I can truly see the other person’s perspective because I have lived it. I also think that over the next 10 years we will see more and more gamers having to come to terms with what I already have, that is assuming they want to function in society. You can’t play video games 8 to 10 hours a day and still maintain a healthy social life outside of virtual space, a love life, and a career. Don’t get me wrong, my online friends ARE my friends. I am as close to them as I am anyone and I would never be so ignorant to say those relationships aren’t real. What I am saying is that you must have relationships outside of virtual space if you are to succeed and function at the rest of your life.

The gaming community and blogging sphere are going to slowly learn this over the next few years, at least the vocal minority will. I think Blizzard already realizes that the vast majority of their player base is on some sort of limited play schedule, thus they have made the end game more approachable for everyone. Right now I’m just one voice in a sea of bloggers shouting their opinions. I was a first generation MMO blogger and I will be playing them for many generations to come.

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