The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.

I awoke yesterday morning and made my way to the bathroom to begin my morning ablutions. With my face buried in a hot flannel I heard the bathroom door open then close, after which followed the distinct motions of someone adjusting the toilet seat and placing themselves upon it. Hands still pressed to my face, I turned my head slowly to the side while pulling the flannel fractionally down, peering over the top. I did not know the strange man who sat perched on the toilet seat next to the wash basin; I watched him in stunned silence for a moment, and he returned my gaze with a level look that indicated he felt perfectly at ease being there. He did not say anything to me, nor I to him, and we both carried on about our business, patently ignoring one another, apart from me passing him a new toilet roll when I saw he was going to run out. After flushing, he generously washed his hands in my bowl of clean water and dried them on my towel. He didn’t bother to close the bathroom door as he left.

I dressed and made my way downstairs to the kitchen. Sitting down at the table with my two fresh slices of toast, I leaned over the day’s newspaper which lay to one side, while my arms remained over my plate, spreading butter and jam on a slice of toast, which I then proceeded to eat. I heard the approach of footsteps and continued to stare at the newspaper, studiously ignoring the woman who walked up to the table and took one of my slices of toast, and then sat down and began to spread butter on it. I continued regardless, leaning back over my plate to take bites of my toast, while my other hand remained stretched out to the side, leafing through the pages of the newspaper. We didn’t say anything to one another, apart from this stranger barking “Jam!” at me when I failed to pass the preserve, even though I had been intending to but was waiting for her to finish buttering her toast. She wolfed down the toast, took a swig from my tea, and then left. I put the dirty plates and cutlery in the dishwasher myself.

Halfway to work I stopped at some traffic lights, and while my car and I idled, four men got in and made themselves comfortable. They travelled with me for some distance in silence, gradually going their own way when it suited them, although the chap who abandoned the car while we were doing seventy along the motorway probably regretted not hanging on a little longer.

That night I paused in the process of snuggling down with my wife, threw off the bedcovers, left the bed, and hung a big ‘Private’ sign on the outside of the bedroom door. Alas, by the time I re-entered the bedroom I found that three men and a woman were in various states of undress and in my bed, helping themselves to my wife. I looked on agape, and then in anger, before leaning my head back out of the bedroom door in disbelief in order to check the sign I had just posted. I quickly took down the Free-For-All sign that I had mistakenly hung there, and made a mental note to store it somewhere safely with the Round Robin sign, as far away from the privacy sign as possible.

It’s a step forward from enforced grouping, but y’know, sometimes the default-to-open group system in Rift can seem a little bit impersonal and antisocial.

20 thoughts on “The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.

  1. Melmoth Post author

    Rift says “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”

    There’s definitely still some Azeroth in quite a few of the players of Rift, however.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    Rift says “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”

    > /look

    You look around and try to spot the differences.
    You failed your spot check.

    > /lookharder

    You take your time and peer around more attentively.
    You think you spot a difference to the west.


    Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold.

  3. Zoso

    When are you in Azeroth when you’re not in Azeroth?

    When you’re adrift! A-drift! Ad-rift!

    Wait, I think I told it wrong…

  4. welshtroll

    *Open grouping in Rift is slightly odd, but kind of cool if you accept that most people are ok and gamers just like you, but the weird ones are super odd.

  5. Koal

    In case it really bothers you you should know the feature can be turned off any time you like so you don’t have strangers popping into your group unless you invite them.

  6. Melmoth Post author

    @welshtroll: Indeed, it certainly has its benefits too. The thing is, I’m not sure whether it helps people to be more sociable in these games, or whether it just helps people to continue soloing while using other people to complete quests that might be too hard, or for objectives that they might have to otherwise wait for; for some people at least, it seems to turn other players into resources to be used by them.

    @Koal: One delightfully anecdotal person annoyed me to the point that I decided to leave the group and set myself private for a short while to give myself a break. Unfortunately I managed to hit several options, including the Ready Check while trying to leave, and then turning my PvP flag on while trying to go private. I imagine they were so confused/bemused by my random (rage-induced) flailing, that they probably wouldn’t have bothered to try and rejoin me anyway.

  7. John

    Just curious, when someone joins your open group, do you say hello? It makes a huge difference if you do.

  8. Gankalicious

    @Melmoth- brilliant, just brilliant. I couldn’t help but think, while reading, how very English of you to hand him the loo roll :)

    Did you give him a firm look that said you might, if pressed too far, write a stern letter explaining you were rather put out by it all?

  9. Melmoth Post author

    @John: Yes, indeed. And I do have people on my friends list from impromptu groups, I’m not saying they’re a Bad Thing. I just wonder if MMO culture has been trained for too long to ignore strangers while playing with them, taking them for granted, as it were.

    @Gankalicious: Upon my honour you can rest assured that I sighed really quite loudly, and I even threatened to raise an eyebrow; yes, I know, but I felt the transgression had approached such a level of seriousness.

  10. Jim

    This post played out like a David Lynch “Mulholland Drive” take on the dark sexual anonymity that is the true driving undercurrent of the mmorpg market.

    I felt so afraid logging into Azeroth knowing I was no more than an Ivory Coast sex slave dropped off in a container at the Port of Stormwind. I’m less alone now…thank you.

  11. Tremayne

    Public grouping doesn’t make MMO players sociable. However, by letting people cooperate and share quest objectives, at least it reduces the incentive for players to be actively anti-social towards each other. After six years of WoW conditioning players to be complete jackholes to each other, let’s just take it one step at a time :)

  12. pkudude99

    So, someone invading your private space, stealing your food, and raping your wife is analogous to both of you getting quest updates rather than fighting over who gets to tag a mob?

    Methinks thou dost take the analogy into absurdity.

    My experience with the public grouping has been uniformly positive. I say hi when people join, thank them when we finish a quest together, talk to them if it’s a longer quest or if we have multiple quests. Yeah, sometimes it’s just “join, kill mob, leave” but even there I find that not needing to fight over who gets the mobs is a big positive to my gaming experience.

    Too bad I can’t do that with people in the other faction who since I’m on a PvE server I don’t want to (and can’t) fight so why can’t I group with them again?

  13. Zoso

    Methinks thou dost take the analogy into absurdity.

    Extraordinary, isn’t it? It’s almost like that’s what he set out to do…

  14. Bristal

    Agree with pkudude99 that your analogy is a bit much. How about this:

    I glance and smile dispassionately at the ticket agent as I hand over my boarding pass, drag my suitcase toward the waiting airplane. I barely acknowledge the beaming steward as he greets me with fake enthusiasm. I smile at an attractive passenger as I pass by, inspecting her gear, then choose a seat. I sincerely acknowledge my seat mates, thanking them for rising to let me in, and ask for a mana biscuit. I pass the next 90 minutes in silence after a very short conversation about the weather. We politely wish each other safe travel as we depart into the terminal.

    I would not compare my home life with any “enforced group system”. Mass transit, now THAT’S enforced grouping. And we all acknowledge and consent to it. And it’s not so different from an MMO.

  15. Melmoth Post author

    Hoom, blogger-sense tingling, Tobold must have made a post linking to us: the comments are suddenly redlining the patronisation-o-meter. And to think that he has to deal with it on a daily basis. T’ch.

    Okay, for the recent comments of the 29th:

    For those who would actually like to learn, start here, then go here.

    Then understand that the analogy is not designed to sum up the entirety of the experience of open grouping in Rift, it is aimed at expressing one aspect of it – which the concluding sentence clarifies – and it is done so in an absurdist way because that is the nature of my writing on this blog.

    Heckling because you don’t like my sense of humour is accepted; claiming an absurdist piece of writing is too absurd and then offering a less absurd piece is, frankly, absurd. Which is ironic. Absurdly so.

  16. FraidOfTheLight

    > For those who would actually like to learn, start here, then go here.

    Perhaps anyone who wants to comment on KiaSA should have to submit an entrance exam first?

    Here’s a starter for ten: what kind of fish is not recommended for cutting down the tallest tree in the forest (especially after a recent spate of shrubbery-gathering)?

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