Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If You Have An Hour To Kill...

Monthly contributor Tim Rogers has provided an article for Kotaku regarding MMO's. Final Fantasy XI in particular. It's a lengthy read. If you want to be lazy, here's the gist of it:

Tim has an online friend whom he has known for years but never knew that he played Final Fantasy XI. So he took a few hours one day to talk with his friend and determine why he plays. Tim knows squat about MMO's or any of the terminology. There are a few paragraphs about fun-stealers, some relation to gaming in Korea, how gold selling changes the game play, Fable II, FarmVille, Facebook, and chess. Whatever the main point of the column was, it got lost about a third of the way through.

I bring this up because I found the article quite interesting to see from the perspective of someone who has never been involved in MMO's. And in Tim's case, he really was clueless. He had to ask his friend about a myriad of terms that are common to most gamers. Even what gold farming/selling was. Which is a surprise since Tim speaks in the article about playing Gears of War, along with Fable and a myriad of other console games. Even things such as "guild" needed to be explained. Not what I was expecting. The most hard core console gamers that I know who never pick up PC games know what a guild is. World of Warcraft has seeped into the minds of all.

What I did like about the article was the first third before it delineated into non-sequiturs. The dialogue between Tim and his friend opened up why Final Fantasy XI works and doesn't in the MMO world. I also appreciated that Tim wasn't for or against the learning aspects of FFXI. I say that because his friend has a form of autism and FFXI helped him to become more social, i.e. not be as awkward around other people in what is considered "normal." And the fact that this is coming from a non-MMO gamer made the article more appealing.

The concepts that Tim's friend brings to the table are blunt. He plays the game as a means of learning what it is like to run a corporation. So he bought a linkshell and started his own business. In so many ways running a guild is just like running a company. And people wonder why I don't want to work in another corporation. Tim's friend calls the endgame linkshells fun-stealers. I couldn't agree more. When you get to the point in a game where you have to act like you're running a business, the fun stops. The fun of the game becomes broken down to a job where you pay (in hours and in monetary value) with meager hopes that you will achieve some form of pixilated gear. This part spoke to me greatly, and it's something I have experienced a multitude of times (most recently as Monday, and the article was posted Tuesday >.>).

The endgame linkshells, guilds, etc. they all change how people perceive MMO's. What you may believe is fun has now become a job. At one point, we all become fun-stealers in order to obtain that last little bit of high end gear. How depressing. And that's why I still keep my social linkshell around. Anytime I feel that someone is trying to take the fun out of the game, arguing over pixilated gear, I know that I have my social ls available to keep me in check. We all have the same mentality about keeping the game fun. We do the things that we want to do, such as go on missions, advance the story-line, play with the silly holiday events, because we enjoy those aspects of the game. It's not about the hardcore life of endgame. A good number of people could learn from Tim's friend. He's looking at FFXI from a good perspective and it can be applied to all MMO's. What's wrong with playing a game for fun?

Not to shove aside the social aspects, the one thing that has kept me playing FFXI is the forced human interaction. To get to the next story plot, the next mission, the next whatever, you need to work with other people. I'm going to keep this brief since that could be a giant article in itself, but it's the need to work with others in FFXI says a lot about the human experience. I'd recommend reading the article. If it becomes too droll, as I said Tim loses his focus about a third of the way through, read up to the first embedded video.

Oh and apologies for the random pictures. I wanted to use something from my massive stash that didn't give away any story pieces from the most recent expansion pack, and didn't give any character names.


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