Whiny Post Day: What would you sacrifice at the altar of progression?

A couple of weeks ago, Klepsacovic came up with the idea of Whiny Post Day.

And so I announce to you, the first annual Whiny Post Day of March 17. On this day, bloggers everywhere are allowed to make one whiny post in solidarity with their fellow bloggers who are also making whiny posts.

Tobold and Larisa have already taken up the challenge, and I’m very intrigued to see what other bloggers come up with. I suspect that for all of us, the topic we select here is fairly core to how we feel about blogging and MMOs.

It’s a game, why do so many people want to make it like work?

I have been a gamer for most of my life.

My great aunts taught me to play Rummy and Poker. My grandmother taught me to play Scrabble. At family gatherings, we often brought out the board games. And let’s not forget the epic sibling battles over Monopoly which often wound up with the board upended and pieces all over the floor. Later on, I played RPGs with cousins, and with friends at college. And there were computer games – single player and MUDs/ MUSHes. Collectible card games like Illuminati. And so on.

But aside from the single player games, all of those gaming activities were social. The games had objectives and we played to win, but they were social activities. We played because we wanted to play together.

I thought in the beginning that MMOs would be like that also. They weren’t so dissimilar to our MUSHes really, just with extra graphics, more grind, things to do with other people … and less roleplaying.

But the basis of MMO relationships isn’t the same as with RL friends. Friends in MMOs form because they want more progression and think you can help. That’s the basis of all MMO relationships. In many ways, it’s like being at work where networking and cultivating ‘work friendships’ is important for your career. This isn’t true of everyone, of course, it is possible to wind up with a tight knit group of people who all have similar attitudes and goals and work on your progression together. But you will likely meet because you all wanted to run the same instance, or blast through some quests together, or work on some other joint progression-related goal.

This is why friendly guilds so rarely work in WoW. Everyone can act friendly as long as it suits them, but as soon as they have to choose between sticking with the friends and progressing together or jumping to another guild with faster progression, the majority will jump. Again, it’s very similar to a work atmosphere where no one would ever expect you to delay your personal career for the team.

I’m not immune to this lure, I switched raid groups during the last WoW expansion for this exact reason. But it was only recently that I had more time to think about exactly why this pressure made the game less fun for me. And it’s because I don’t play games because I want to play ‘being at work.’ Maybe that’s fun for students who are intrigued by the world of work. Or maybe it’s fun for people who want to play at corporate career making if they’re not happy with how their real job is going. Or maybe for people who are high flyers at work and can’t switch off.

But I am a social player. There is a limit to how far I can enjoy a game where people are more friendly to me when I am leading raids (because they want a raid spot) and will ditch me as soon as they get a better offer. I expect that at work, where it is both logical and pragmatic.

And I think I come full circle now, back to appreciating gaming with RL friends and family. Not because there would never be any pressure to guild hop or progression hop in MMOs if we all were playing together, but because I know that our friendship is based on something just a little more.