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The Lonely Life of the Casual MMORPGer

I am so lonely.

As I sit at my PC and turn on World of Warcraft for the first time in a few weeks, I realize that I am utterly alone in this world.  Oh how I long for the golden days of my MMO excursions.  But alas, those days are over and now I find myself in one of the loneliest categories of gamer that exists – the casual MMO player.

Look! Friends!

Just a couple of years ago, I was entrenched in the world that Blizzard had created for me.  I had a guild that was like family.  We were friends.  We talked about our lives as we went on 25 person raids, leveled villages to the ground and slaughtered lower level PvP flagged opposing factions.  They were my team, the reason I eventually started signing on to play.  And play I did.  Hours upon consecutive hours of gameplay, so much that my legs would cramp from sitting too long.  I would forget to eat.  Or I would eat too much because of all the sitting.  I was glued to this world, oftentimes in an unhealthy way.  The long hours I spent leveling, grinding, raiding, socializing bore into my daily life and soon I was consumed with World of Warcraft.  It didn’t revolve around my life.  My life revolved around it.

Then one day, my guild disbanded.

There had been tension in the ranks and the guild was split pretty much down the middle.  Some people, including myself, went to another guild.  But it was never quite the same.  I felt like a child from a broken home.  It became difficult to organize times to see my friends online.  We stopped raiding.  Nothing was organized.  I found myself getting on for a few hours to grind by myself, occasionally hooking up with some of my crew for unproductive things.  Then I slowly began weaning myself off of the game.  An hour less, and less.  Eventually I left the guild I was in, having found it not very welcoming to begin with.  I was a loner, Dottie, a rebel.

Soon I began signing on only to level a skill or check my auctions or do the occasional quest.  This is how it has been for a long time.  I still sign on to play, and when I do I find that there is no one for me to play with, for several reasons.  Any of the friends I have who do play World of Warcraft usually somehow end up on a different server than I play, and when I start a new toon on that server, I am still left in the dust as far as leveling goes because of how little I sign on.  Eventually it’s not very fun to be a level 20 playing with a level 80.  It’s not fun for me and it’s not fun for them.  So it stops happening.

Wanna play with me? No? ....Okay....

 

I recently joined another guild after raiding with a couple people.  I joined out of the need to belong, the desire to socialize, and the valuable resources that a communal guild bank offered.  It seemed to be going well for a few days.  I was playing pretty regularly, leveling with some folks that were near my level, questing, and generally kicking butt.  And then the inevitable happened – I got busy in that crazy real life thing.  I wasn’t really able to sign on for more than an hour or so for a few weeks.  When I finally did I found I had been dismissed from the guild for inactivity.

 

I was alone again.

 

I can’t seem to shake my love of Warcraft, even though I rarely play it anymore.  I can’t bring myself to close my account and stop for good.  It somehow gets in your blood.  There is a need for it that is never quite satisfying unless you spend most of your waking hours doing it.  So occasionally I sign on, work on my leatherworking skill, skin some wolves, do a few quests by myself and hang it up for the night.  I rarely socialize or team up with people because I know it will be fleeting experience.  Best not to get attached to folks you’re never going to see again.  And so I find myself a lonely hunter class in the woods (I picked this class so I could at least have a pet).  I like to pretend she’s just anti-social and hermit like, living in the forest off the land, only going into common areas to make trades and get a haircut.  In a way it’s nice, but I miss the days that when I would sign on, the green text on the side of my screen would explode with greetings from fellows I knew.  Alas, those days are gone.

 

 

And I am the loneliest MMO gamer there is.

 


5 comments

  1. A heartfelt, bittersweet tale of gaming love and loss by an immensely talented writer.

  2. Hmm… I've been a loner my whole life. Only belonging to a community on a few occasions. Most of the communities I belonged to were online.

    I used to play a MUD called Darkness Falls: The Crusades. It was by Mythic Entertainment and the realm vs realm format of DFC would get modified and reused in Dark Age of Camelot. I played a lot for years, like, 10 hours a day when I didn't have school, some times more even when I did have school.

    Even in the game I usually spent time alone, leveling. I'd join up to make raids (not the kind you know… but similar) into other realms to steal their artifacts. But other than that I usually spend time alone. One time I got bored and went into the evil realm alone… lol caused all sorts of havok before they could trap me and kill me. I'm sure the evil realm thought a full invasion was on and was freaking out that they couldn't find us. But then it's a lot harder to find one man than 30. Found out years later when I popped on just out of curiosity that I was something of a legend in the Chaos realm. Heavens knows why… must of been more because I was mysterious than anything else… I certainly wasn't the badass they made me out to be.

    Later became a big part of the Unreal Tournament community. In that one I actually participated and belonged. But the community was fractious and filled with immature malcontents. It shattered over and over and people who started off friends often ended up on opposite sides of debates till the community was fractured and spread over dozens of different sites, forums, and chat networks. Eventually people on those nets were mostly just idling, no talking, just a name in the channel list. Eventually I only showed up on the net out of sense of responsibility. Being admin was important to me and I had put a lot of effort into trying to do my job right over the years. It had made me unpopular with the other admin and many of the users. Eventually I was removed as admin (heh… politics) and had no reason to remain… so I left. Again popped back on long time later, they still remembered me… still got a big welcome… but there was nothing in it for me. The "community" was still just a bunch of idle names in a channel list.

    Haven't been part of an online community since. I played WoW for a long time. But I mostly spent time alone grinding and questing. The guild I was in was small, barely 10 people, we didn't raid… though we did occasionally take on non-raid dungeons above our level.

    But I never got into the game or the guild. I guess for the same reasons. I had had my "addiction" to massively multiplayer style gaming and gotten over it with DFC. WoW is nothing new to me. If anything its more work for less benefit. And I have no interest in getting involved with a new community because I've been there and done that… and while it was great and something I remember fondly… I don't expect to find such a thing again.

    No these days I try to spend my time hanging out in the real world. Bars, movies, parties, diners, foot ball games, and the occasional lan party. I've certainly not turned my back on gaming… but I've found I enjoy a good story with my games more than tournaments or community. I've got "community" on speed dial. Good stories are much harder to come by.

    /2cents

  3. The vast majority of MMO players seem to go through this very same scenario. I, myself, am no exception to it. The simple fact of the matter is that things change. Real life dominates every aspect of what happens in a fantasy MMO. There are just too many real world factors that will change a persons behavior in life and otherwise. Many folks play such games for the great potential that lies in the community. However, in a MMO, options and activity are limited. Things eventually become stagnant and redundant. It seems that either people get bored and move on, or something occurs in real life that further limits them from being as social within the game as they desire. There is also the addiction factor that has them log in out of habit. This usually makes for a drab and nonproductive session. Without going into further detail, the bottom line is that s#!t happens. The more people involved, the more s#!t is bound to hit the proverbial fan. Be it in-game, or in real life.

    It is my opinion a MMOs greatest strength is also its greatest downfall. Community. So many objectives rely on the need for others to assist for completion. So much so, that in order to become competitive you must have a dedicated team. Not only that, but the time required to do this is an obstacle by itself. MMOs are designed to eat up as much time as possible. The more time required to accomplish anything is more money in the designers pockets. Its a brilliant scheme, really. Force players to unite for extended periods of time to make a profit on pixelated fictitious items and currency. MMOs are nothing more than glorified chat rooms with pretty graphics. Yet, that is the appeal. Finding other people who share common goals and execute them as a community. A veteran player knows how difficult this can be. How often has an event been planned well in advance only to be canceled because of lack of participation?

    What I hope most for MMO gamers is that they learn how to manage their time so that they are able to do something worthwhile when playing. If anything, keep in touch with your community and maintain open and poignant communication with those you care about. If you really have family-like bonds with others in a MMO then it isn't any harder than staying in touch with your "real life" family/friends. At least not in this day and age (Facebook, e-mail, etc.). However, one of the most important things that many people don't seem to realize is that you cannot rely on other people to make your experience thrilling and fun. It is up to you to make certain you are there to have fun in what you do and have the time to see it through. Time and time again, you will be let down if you depend on others to be ready when you are. This becomes especially apparent when the "new car smell" wears off. When that happens, the developers suck you back into the vicious cycle with an expansion.

    There really is a happy-medium when juggling time online and offline. Finding it is usually a difficult task, however. It can be done and you can still become something fierce in your MMO while maintaining a healthy life in the real world. Self control and discipline are definitely ingredients in that recipe. It is a shame that there comes a point when good people decide it is better to quit than to put up with all the hassle that comes standard with MMOs. To this, I do not blame the players or the community. Instead, I point a finger at the developers for not accommodating to their loyal and dedicated player base. Casual or not, a MMO should provide content enough for both types and all in between. Yet, I suppose that is just too much to ask for.

  4. I feel your pain, I was in the same cycle myself (also a Hunter), I was lucky to join a great guild in WoW, one that had strong leadership that had been around for a long time, traveling from game to game. I quit Warcraft and bounced around to other MMO’s, never finding what was missing, and honestly not knowing why I was not satisfied. Then I found my old guild again playing another game and rejoined them, it felt like coming home, all the names I have known, the fun conversations. It is like an online family, and once you find one hold on to it… Thank you for reminding me that friends are more important than a game.

    • This show is the only thing that keeps me sane when I have to work on Saturday mornings (I start at 6am). Bad thing: why is the shwiugold on an American server :< Now there's no way I can join you all.

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