Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Why do we play? - Introduction
Over the coming weeks I'm planning to write a series of blog posts exploring various aspects and possible answers to the question of why we play MMORPGs, or rather why we play them for so much longer than single-player games. Single-player games that last for a hundred hours are few and far between, but our favorite MMORPGs are often played for thousands of hours. But then there are other MMORPGs that we give up on after having played the open beta for a few hours, or during the free month that came with the box when we bought it. Why do we play one game, but not another, similar game?
This is something I've been thinking about for quite some time now, but never managed to comprehensively cover in a single post. So finally I decided to split up the discussion into various aspects, different elements of motivation that might make us play. For example storytelling, character development, challenge, social interaction, "polish", or achievements. So every post of the series is going to be titled "Why do we play?", followed by the element I'm covering in that particular part. I'll use examples from various existing and announced games to illustrate my points, but don't be surprised if a majority of the examples is from World of Warcraft: It simply is the best point of reference, best known both by myself and most of my readers.
I don't think we'll come up with a final answer to the question, because obviously there is a lot of personal variation. But I do think there are some general trends. And seeing how many games were published in the last 5 years which either failed completely or at least failed to meet expectations, I don't have much confidence that the game developers have the answer to the question of what motivates people to play. If by looking at various aspects, and hopefully good feedback and discussion from you, we can illuminate a bit what is likely to work and what isn't, I think we can produce something worthwhile and interesting.