Thursday, July 02, 2009
Are we still having fun?
Wolfshead runs a blog on which the post range from brilliant but grumpy to just grumpy. His latest brilliant but grumpy post is about tackling player inertia, in which he takes the 2008 WoW zombie invasion event as example to demonstrate how much MMO players hate change and anything unpredictable.
Over time we willingly trade the feeling of wonder and excitement for the security of the daily grind and the routine. We become like the cast of Cheers. We show up in our favorite MMOs each night, occupy our virtual bar stools and embrace the insanity of tedium and repetitiveness.This leads him to the conclusion that if Raph Koster's Theory of Fun is correct, and we are having fun by learning things, we can't possibly have fun after having settled down into a routine of daily repetitive tasks. So the big question is:
Are we still having fun?Right now the answer appears to be no. I'm not playing any major MMO at the moment, spending my time with single-player games and small niche MMOs instead. I've seen various reader comments on my blog from people either still playing but grumbling about it, or not playing any MMO and loudly proclaiming hate for them all (Which makes a MMORPG blog a strange place to hang out). The most positive excitement I hear nowadays is about games that haven't even been released yet. It is easier to find somebody saying nice things about Aion or SWTOR than somebody saying nice things about World of Warcraft or Warhammer Online or any other existing MMORPG.
And not only are we not having fun in the existing games, we also strongly resist any proposal to change them. Just watch the players recent reactions to the various changes that patch 3.2 brings to World of Warcraft: Every single one of them has been blasted as bad by the players.
But if we look beyond the world of blogs, comments, and forums, an explanation dawns: The games themselves are still full of millions of players, apparently still having enough fun in the game to not quit it. If unhappiness about MMORPGs were widespread, shouldn't the user numbers be dropping? So the alternative theory to "MMOs are not fun any more" is that the people who are having fun are so busy playing that they don't find the time to hang out in blogs or forums; while the people who stopped having fun also stopped playing, giving them more time to complain about the existing games, or to express hope for the future games. People writing on forums, blogs, or comments are not representative of the average MMORPG gamer. And increasingly the writing sub-part of the MMORPG community is far more negative than the non-writing part.