Sunday 29 March 2009

What sort of player am I?

I’ve decided to attempt to understand the type of MMO player that I am, in an effort to be able to balance my judgement of a game against the travelling circus of prejudices that I bring with me when I roll into town at any specific MMO.

I’ve only just begun the journey of analysis, and therefore I don’t have a lot to report as of yet, but I thought I’d document the beginnings of the journey here, partly to put the idea out there, but primarily to remind myself of what I’m supposed be attempting when I get distracted by the next shiny object tha

Sorry, shiny object.

So, having gone back to WAR to give Slayers a try, the first thing that I’ve realised is that I am very much a player who is motivated by mid-term goals. For example, getting to level ten in WAR gives you extra bag space and a couple of very useful abilities; level twenty gives you the chance to add a surname to your character and more importantly access a mount for faster ground travel. I find that with some ‘major’ level to aim for that is achievable with a relatively modest amount of effort, I can keep playing through the relatively mundane intermediate levels. Note that I rate effort over time here: I don’t necessarily need to get to my mid term goal quickly, but it needs to come before the feeling of senseless grind sets in. Also worth noting is that just gaining a level and a new ability doesn’t seem to register as much of an achievement for me, I’m not sure as to why, but perhaps it’s because this is just what every MMO seems to do, or perhaps it’s because the speed of levelling that WoW has introduced – where levels are given out like candy at children’s birthday party – has meant that there’s little sense of achievement or satisfaction to be had from gaining a level, you just shove the free candy into your mouth as fast as you can and ask for more. Therefore, even if the goal is something as fluff-like as a character surname, it’s enough – or at least it’s different enough from the norm of level gain – that I find I can aim for it and be encouraged to keep plodding away on the levelling treadmill. Of course, it would be better if I didn’t feel like I was plodding away on a treadmill at all, but that’s something to be analysed at another time.

In essence I think I’ve become acclimatised to the current trend of fast XP and even faster levels in MMOs, and therefore I need to have any number of significant intermediate goals between my character and the level cap in order to make me feel like I’ve achieved anything of worth in my questing efforts; I may try to test this theory by finding and playing an MMO with slow level gain, such that each level itself becomes an achievement worth aiming for.

Clearly I’ve got at least one foot in Bartle’s Achiever category, but this is only the beginning of my analysis, and I know for certain that I need to mix in some Explorer to realise my true MMO playing self. I hope to find out more about that self as I continue on my MMO playing journey, now that I’ve opened my eyes in an attempt to realise my prejudices and preferences it’s amazing how far I can see that the journey could potentially take me.

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