Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Musing - My Dad Is Playing An MMO

My household has been playing video games since my birth. We still have an Atari 2600, along with a full collection of NES, CalicoVision, and VirtuaBoy games. It's in our blood.

While my brother and I are strongly attached to console games, my father has always been a fan of computer games. It started with X-Wing/Tie Fighter series from LucasArts and grew from there. He tends to stick to flight simulators and shooters. Very rarely did we see him get attached to a console game. I remember him playing Metroid on the Super Nintendo and Tetris on occasion.

We have attempted a few times to get him to try out Gears of War and Halo. He's watched us play Rock Band and hum to the songs of classic rock. But he's never really played these games. He is glued to his PC. And that's ok.

This past year he asked for Fallout 3 and Modern Warfare 2 for his PC. Which surprised me, but I was happy to oblige. And while it took him nearly a year to complete Fallout 3, he still roams the wasteland scouring for quests/missions he may have overlooked. He's a completionist and becomes technical with his games. He'd much rather spend an entire week obtaining exploring a town in Fallout 3 over completing missions. When we were able to get him into Portal and Half-Life, as much as he enjoyed shooting at everything, his goal was to inspect every corner, obtain every weapon, etc. He is very much a solo player and anything that has online capabilities, he doesn't bother with.

Which is why I was surprised that he took a shine to an MMO, from a company my brother works for. MMO's are the antithesis of what my father enjoys. The game is Rift, from Trion Worlds. It's World of Warcraft with a little bit of Galaxies (old Galaxies before they jacked it up) and Lord of the Rings thrown in. Fantastic backgrounds that I could watch for hours or make into a screen saver. Gameplay, eh not my thing, but I can see it as a pick-up-and-play format best for newcomers.

My dad loves it. And I'm still trying to figure out why. He loves the backgrounds. He loves the quests. He loves the action. He loves the simplicity of the keyboard, but that you can easily make it customizable to your play style. It's very...odd. Because he doesn't party with other people, he doesn't interact with players. He quests by himself and isn't afraid to die a billion times. He wants to finish the quest on his own. It's the opposite of what an MMO is all about. He's all for no human interaction when an MMO begs for it to happen.

I've tried to ask him about this, but he hasn't given me a logical answer. Good for him that he enjoys the game and he's trying a new genre, but the no-human interaction annoys me. Probably because I'm an avid MMO player and the whole point is to talk with other people. And it's not an issue of it being a beta, there are people wandering around in Rift along with the NPC's.

So how does a solitary action gamer work in an MMO game? I don't know the answer to this yet. My dad is turning into a case study now. I really want to know how he is able to enjoy the game while he plays it as an action/shooter genre. Maybe it's a sign that MMO's are branching out to encompass multiple genres in one, though there really isn't horror/shooting/action in this game. It's a fantasy MMO that relates to WoW.

Let the study begin!

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