The Arcade Blog: On MMOs and being a good person
- — 31 July, 2012 22:00
I've been sick since Sunday, and took Monday and Tuesday off to sleep in until 11am and hope for my cold to disappear. It hasn't disappeared, but during that time I had a lot of time to play EA and Funcom's new MMO, The Secret World.
I'm not a big player of MMOs - I've never played World of Warcraft (no, really) for fear of getting horribly addicted. I've seen it happen, and it's ugly. DC Universe Online is one of the few MMOs I've spent a significant amount of time on, but it's been quite a while since I played that, too. So when I logged into The Secret World, which is predominently PvE, I had forgotten that people who play MMOs are generally friendlier and more helpful than the average gamer. I play a lot of shooters, a lot of RPGs, a lot of adventure games, and the general attitude in The Secret World, comparatively, is actually a really nice change.
It started with a little mistake. I was completing a quest - on my own, as I prefer not to group up until I'm working on endgame content - and couldn't figure out where to find a particular item after searching the whole area. I went to the hints channel and asked for a clue - not expecting much - and no less than four people pointed me in the right direction, and without even pointing out how stupid I was to miss an item that was blindingly obvious.
Then, last night, I couldn't complete a quest. I had to defend an area, and I just couldn't do it on my own - I always got swarmed and overwhelmed. In the throes of despair, I went to the 'Looking for Group' channel and asked for help. "We don't even have to group up," I said, not sure anyone was even listening. "I just can't hold it on my own."
I waited for someone to reply to my message. Minutes went past, and no one did. I waited in the area I was supposed to defend for a bit - without triggering the quest so I wouldn't get swarmed - and no one turned up. After a little while, I gave up and walked away, but then went back to check a couple of minutes later - someone was standing in there. He saw me, and jumped up and down a couple of times, so I triggered the quest. He helped me defend against the horde. Then, a second person showed up. And a third. After I was done, we all helped another person complete the same quest.
"Thanks!" I whispered to each of the people who'd helped me.
"You're welcome," they each said, and then we went our separate ways.
Isn't that kind of a magical thing? The people who joined to help were much stronger than me, and had nothing to gain from it as they'd clearly completed the same quest before. They just did it out of kindness. In a team-based shooter, almost no one works together. There's little communication at all, really, unless a couple of guys playing together have headsets on.
What's more, when I play an MMO I feel compelled to help people, too. When I see another character fighting several different enemies, I stop and assess the situation. Are they having trouble coping? Can I help? If I think they're struggling, or that I can help them without hindering their quest progress, I always have to jump in.
I'm not sure what exactly it is about MMOs that fosters this kind of connection to other players - perhaps we feel that we're all in it together, or perhaps it's just fun to jump in and play the hero. Regardless of what I think of the game - I'll be reviewing it shortly - those little moments were exceptional for me.