In the land of the grind, the one-trick pony is king.
Applying the generic MMO philosophy to real life would mean that my boss asking me to write some code would inevitably result in me having to kill at least fifteen people or animals before the task was done.
Thankfully there is a distinct lack of wolves and boars hanging aimlessly around the office, but that pair of third floor accountants by the printer look as though they might aggro if I try to collect my hard copy.
I still find it interesting to consider ‘Why primarily combat?’ for a large number of MMOs. You may view that question in different ways depending on your prejudices, but it needn’t automatically be considered a failing of developers; indeed, many MMOs have tried other approaches without staggering success, so perhaps players have been seen to reject these alternatives. Again, though: why primarily combat?
Because combat provides an easy win condition? To satiate a fantasy which we cannot experience in real life? Because it is an easier system to encapsulate in lines of code than the alternatives? Because it’s a system which easily satisfies the input–>reward philosophy of gaming? Because we have yet to be offered alternatives which provide the exhilaration of the fight?
I’m not sure of the answer –or whether there even is an answer– otherwise this would have been the Revelation of the Day.