Friday, September 9, 2011

Do modern MMO communities suck?

This post over at I Have Touched the Sky (which contains one of my favorite quotes from the original Conan stories, btw) led me to this post over at Scary Booster, where Scary seems to have had some really bad experiences with other MMO gamers lately. In short, he feels that modern MMO communities are filled with asshats. He makes it sound almost as bad as X-box live ["shudder"].

You will encounter some pretty caustic personalities when playing MMOs for sure. Forums devoted to MMOs seem to be especially caustic. See the forum devoted to any new and popular MMO over at or the official Blizzard forums for example. The first time I saw someone use the response "I hope you die in a fire" in a forum thread was at the latter locale. It did not seem facetious from the back and forth in the rest of the thread, and it honestly made sick to my stomach to read it. However, I've since gotten so used to people being insane over-the-top dickheads on the net that I barely even notice such statements nowadays.

All that said, are the people playing MMOs by and large idgits? I'd say no, absolutely not in my experience. Much as in real life, when I take the time to interact with someone they usually turn out to be pretty nice in most MMOs I play. Even in the famously craptastic community of WoW, I met a lot of great people. The density of assholes there is pretty high, I have to admit. Dungeon Finder PUGs are especially bad. But I doubt the bad apples constitute even 10% of the overall playerbase. That's the worst MMO community I've encountered, by a wide margin. It's also one of the communities where I made the most friends. Really big communities have more of people every sort, both awesome and sucky, than smaller ones.

In the great majority of MMOs I've played, the community is actually pretty good. This may be shocking to those that primarily play WoW, but in the majority of MMOs you can actually get decent advice by using zone chat. When I first started DDO, I would often ask a question in the newbie channel and some random person would start a tell conversation with me to help me out. Even at higher levels, when my level 6 [characters max out at 20 in DDO] wizard couldn't figure out where to buy his spells, a random player grouped with me and transported me to the vendor I needed.

I don't consider DDO a fluke. The last time I played DAoC, I got really helpful advice on character builds using zone chat. The last time I played CoH, PuGs were abundant and every one of the dozen or so I played in went really well. The last time I logged into EQ2X, a random player was giving away absolutely gargantuan (and expensive to make) bags to newbies. I've encountered quite a few dicks while playing MMOs, but acts of random kindness from strangers stand out in my mind more.

Finally, as proof that not all MMO communities utterly suck, I want to point to the official Minstrel message board over at Minstrels are getting nerfed, and nerfed hard in the upcoming expansion. The power cost of their heals is reportedly nearly doubling. Their maximum healing output is also getting nerfed. According to beta testers, a minnie will have to get to 75 and get a rareish magic item to be able to put out as much healing as they currently can at 65. In short, it's practically the apocalypse for the most popular healing class in the game.

Check out this thread about it in the minnie forum (you need to get about halfway down the first page before you start seeing reports of how bad things are in the beta). Yeah, there are a lot of players complaining. But most of them seem to be reacting with "Yeah, it sucks. But we will deal with it. We'll just have to play better." I'm a pretty even keeled. However, if I had a high level minnie I suspect I'd be screaming bloody murder over the changes. That any message board could be largely populated by players so calm and contemplative boggles my mind in the modern internet era.

The internet is indeed filled with asshats. However, I'd argue that the places inhabited by MMO gamers are better places to be than most.


  1. It is partly design. Some years ago I queried the cap of 25 on ignore lists in WoW. I had met my 26th arsehole.

    I got a blue response which basically said we don't want it to be too easy to exclude jerks because we're worried about the jerks having a poor gaming experience.

    They didn't mind screwing up my game experience. (Neither Blizzard or the jerks).

  2. @Stabs I think they've had to up the limit. I'm pretty sure I have at least 25 jerks on my ignore just from since the Dungeon Finder started.

    @Yeebo Thanks for the shout-out. It's nice to hear about good experiences with random strangers. I've actually met a lot of helpful people in all the MMOs I've played, not just jerks.

  3. I PUG and team more often in CoH than in any other MMO I play and it is quite seldom a bad experience - if it is bad it is also mostly 1-2 people and the others are quite ok.

    It seems it may be a bit different depending on which server you play on though; some servers have a bit higher asshat density than others.

  4. This topic of community crops up again and again, and I still maintain that the bulk of those you meet will be good just need to know where to look. I know the asshats are out there, but I fortunately have had more good experiences with the community than bad ones, even in WoW. Well, for one, I don't PvP, so that cuts down on a lot of bad encounters. I also ignore general chat. And third, if a person looking for group can't even muster up a coherent sentence, I don't PuG with them because chances are if they couldn't care enough to write properly, they're not going to care enough to act like a civil human being.

    These actions alone have kept my MMO life pleasantly relatively asshole free for the last few years.

  5. @Stabs: when I first played Allod's Online, I rapidly hit my ignore cap due to gold spammers. It pretty much ruined the game for me for a while, since general chat, where you would normally go hunting for PuGs, become a constant flood of spam. They fixed it eventually. I think during development of a new MMO it often simply doesn't occur to some devs that anyone would want more than say, 30 or 40 ignore slots.

    That said, that was a pretty piss poor blue response you got in WoW.

    @Rowan: when I transition from WoW back other MMOs, I'm often taken aback a bit by how much more helpful random strangers are.

    @Sente: I must play on one of the "good" servers, because I always have a really good experience in CoX, particularly on the hero side. It's one of the few MMOs where I'll join PuGs without any hesitation. Spontatenous player runn activities such as costume contests also seem to happen pretty frequently there.

    @Mmmogamerchick: I totally agree. And those are great tips if you're playing one of the more popular MMOs. Turn off zone chat, don't respond to blind PuG requests that aren't extremely polite and well written.

  6. There is the age old problem that a single bad experience can outweigh several good experiences in our minds. It takes very few bad actors in a community to overshadow all of the positive that does occur.

    I have read in the past that it can be worthwhile for companies to ban the worst offenders (essentially refusing to take money from them) so that everyone else continues to use the service.

  7. @Anjin: isolated bad experiences can certainly build up after a time and really warp your view. It's happened to me in different settings, I'm sorry to say. Tragedy of the social commons?

  8. Yea, im still looking for a MMO were i can block out everyone else. Not only their chat also their character so i will end up with a decent singleplayer.