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MMORPGs teaches the wrong things?

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Moebius
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  • 1 month later...

I hate to say that it "teaches" these things, but it certainly exemplifies some of the worse qualities of an MMORPG. In fact, the entire Group > Solo is the entire reason I left; I had no friends who played (until nearly a year after I quit), and it was nearly impossible to level without a group past level 20.

Though really, GTA teaches better lessons than WoW? I enjoy playing GTA, but certainly not because of the warped sense of "freedom" it supposedly "teaches".

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I got to admit, it is not something I had given a lot of thought to until I read that, however I must say that he makes many good points, and after a little thought I got to say that I agree with a lot of what he said. Some of his points I have thought myself for, well as long as I knew about that sort of game.

If you can find any other gems about games, dont hesitate to link us to em.

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If you play MMORPGs (particularly World of WarCraft), there's a chance you might have read this article.

Do you guys agree or disagree with its position?

I don't particularly agree. A lot of games are meant to be explored and experienced, rather than teach something. Same thing with movies. I'd hate to hear what he thinks Katamari Damacy teaches...
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I don't necessarily agree with that article.

First, I disagree with his "definition" of fun, because it states that learning is implicit in entertainment. That's one way to fix your argument I suppose. As was mentioned, "teaching" may not be the best phrase to use in terms of the impact a game may or may not have on a person's life.

I'm an avid fan of WoW, but I haven't "learned" anything from the game's design. Now I can tell you I learned a fair amount about the social interaction that goes on in the game and how it mirrors many other internet-based forms of interaction and some of those in "real life". As to whether or not that interaction was "taught" by the game remains to be seen.

While I agree to some extent that a lot of the game's thrust is to have people work together for a common goal, and that the most of the better rewards are acheived this way, that's not always necessarily a bad lesson. People can individually contribute their own unique skills toward a common goal with other people and still be acting in their own selfish interest. And it's a fact in life that certain situations are handled better by a team of people than they are by individuals. The amount of content that can actually be experienced in this game from a solo perspective is probably quite a bit more than that which requires a party. Many things that may require a group at one point can still be achieved by a single player at some point later in the game, by some players and classes earlier than others.

Also, I've seen some positive things that can be learned. Logistically speaking, planning a raid, and in the smaller sense navigating instances, requires extensive planning and a creative use of reason and logic to bring about success. These are things that are typically figured out by individuals in the group and not by the group as a whole. The real life reward of being the guy who figures something like that out and achieves success is more likely to be a "learning" moment than whatever game item they may happen to obtain as a result. Successful Guild management is another potentially educational experience. I've seen a couple guilds rise and fall quickly as a result of the one person who is charged with keeping things going, the Guild Master. Other guilds with strong leaders and distinct organization thrive and continue to grow.

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While I agree to some extent that a lot of the game's thrust is to have people work together for a common goal, and that the most of the better rewards are acheived this way, that's not always necessarily a bad lesson. People can individually contribute their own unique skills toward a common goal with other people and still be acting in their own selfish interest. And it's a fact in life that certain situations are handled better by a team of people than they are by individuals. The amount of content that can actually be experienced in this game from a solo perspective is probably quite a bit more than that which requires a party. Many things that may require a group at one point can still be achieved by a single player at some point later in the game, by some players and classes earlier than others.

The problem with WoW's team game is that there isn't really anything that promotes individual brilliance -- instead it specifically designed a utterly egalitarian system where everyone in a particular class has a specific role which it repeats over and over and over again. In fact, there are really only three classes in WoW PVE: Tanks (damage soakers), DPS (damage dealers), and Healers. While there are some emphasis on team work in the sense that you actually need 40 people to do anything, it basically revolves around the majority of the players following simple directions (surprisingly difficult though I have to say, especially on American servers).

I agree though that WoW seem to have done the best job thus far of somewhat balancing its solo content with its group content.

Also, I've seen some positive things that can be learned. Logistically speaking, planning a raid, and in the smaller sense navigating instances, requires extensive planning and a creative use of reason and logic to bring about success. These are things that are typically figured out by individuals in the group and not by the group as a whole. The real life reward of being the guy who figures something like that out and achieves success is more likely to be a "learning" moment than whatever game item they may happen to obtain as a result. Successful Guild management is another potentially educational experience. I've seen a couple guilds rise and fall quickly as a result of the one person who is charged with keeping things going, the Guild Master. Other guilds with strong leaders and distinct organization thrive and continue to grow.

Planning a raid definitely nets you social and organizational skills. But frankly that applies to probably less than 0.1% of the WoW population. The author actually acknowledged this point on his blog where he responded to the comments to this article.

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The problem with WoW's team game is that there isn't really anything that promotes individual brilliance

I'll grant you that, but then I personally don't play games (necessarily) because they promote brilliance. I play games to have fun, and in most instances to get away from "serious thinking", to relax my mind not strain it further after a long stressful night of "serious" problem solving at work.

Planning a raid definitely nets you social and organizational skills. But frankly that applies to probably less than 0.1% of the WoW population.

Perhaps, but you can't blame that on the game. It's typically acknowledged in all aspects of life, not just WoW, that most people are followers not leaders. To be honest, you really can't credit the game design (sheerly in terms of mechanics) with doing anything in regards to how guild management can improve someone. The game merely allows for the existence of guilds, but the manner in which they are run is entirely based on the individual(s) who are in charge of the guild. However, that being part of playing the game can perhaps allow younger people who may have budding leadership skills to develop them to some degree, to learn what it's like to try to get a group of people working in a common direction. That can be quite a daunting task in the game and in real life.

And didn't even go into some of the rudimentary things that can be learned about economics in the game.

I think my main objection is that the author criticizes the game based on the premise that it is something that it isn't. It's a game and not a tool of learning. They can be the same thing, but they are not necessarily the same thing. If he were addressing something like "Little Bear Learns About Life" (fictional example) which was targeted at pre-school kids and teaches them that sacrifice and socialism are good things then I would have to agree.

In my opinion, most of what can be learned from the game, good or bad, has to do with the interaction between the players in the game, and less from the game design itself. But as I mentioned before, this is something that can just as easily be attributed to a forum, email, chat rooms or whatever.

Edited by RationalBiker
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I'll grant you that, but then I personally don't play games (necessarily) because they promote brilliance. I play games to have fun, and in most instances to get away from "serious thinking", to relax my mind not strain it further after a long stressful night of "serious" problem solving at work.

I understand where you're coming from, although when I say "personal brilliance", what I mean is simply being better at something relative to others -- more skilled, in other words.

I play games to have fun too. But for me the fun comes from mastering something and applying it, whether I am playing poker, basketball, or video games. The idea, essentially, is that the better you become at the game, the more fun there is to be had. By practicing, becoming better, understanding the nuances of the game, and finding competition or challenges. This obviously isn't the same way that everyone approaches "fun", but since the author was at one point a competitive world-class Street Fighter player, this is what he is saying when he talks about "fun" and the lessons he learned from games. These are also the exact same lessons that I learned from playing sports as a youth.

The very design of WoW from the get-go is contrary to the idea of personal skill. In WoW, the idea is simply that the longer you spend playing, the more powerful your character become, regardless of how good you are at the game (not strictly true, but the learning curve is designed specifically to be extremely flat). Skill, in other words, is internalized in the character instead of the player. This obviously makes sense from a business point of view, given the the whole business model was created to hook end users to the product for as long as possible. For instance, 99% of the game revolves around "quests" that are basically variations of "kill X number of creature Y, receive reward Z", repeated N times.

Now, you will probably find that both types of games (skilled games vs time reward games) have real life parallels. Assembly line workers, corporate paper pushers, and McDonald burger flippers more or less operate under the "repeat relatively simply tasks N times and receive paycheck at the end of the month" model. Creators, skilled artisans, and competitors operate under the "meticulous preparation, nuanced understanding, and mastery of your art" model. Note that I am just talking about real-life parallels, and I am not in any way talking about the type of people that play those games. It seems obvious that these games do in fact embody and express two different types of values.

Now this is really all irrelevant if you have a clear set of values. Furthermore, most people presumably do not derive all of their values from video games. Although it is also true that these games can and does teach some sort of lessons that's applicable to life, particularly to children or young teens (or anybody for that matter to whom the game is an important part of their life). So I guess the question is, if your kid was going to play games either way, which type of game would you prefer that they play? Maybe you don't think it matters, and maybe it doesn't. But for me the answer is obvious.

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If I was to personally criticize the philosophy of the game (and this is more based on impression than serious analysis), I would attack something I think is more fundamental. Even though the two factions (Horde and Alliance) are enemies and at war, there is no clear good guy or bad guy side. I think by toon design, the Horde is represented by less attractive races which suggests but is hardly enough to establish them as the bad guys. More importantly, the content of the quests (and by extension the storyline) suggests that each side is "justified" in their war against the other.

Perhaps you (moebius) have a better grasp on that than I do. To be honest, after a while I just turned on the "quick quest text" option to speed up grabbing and turning in quests. I suppose I could be wrong on this bad guy / good guy thing.

I will add the disclaimer that outside of WoW I'm not familiar with the Warcraft mythology. I did not play the RTS games of that universe.

I think it would be interesting to see what types of people typically pick one side over the other and why. I tend to play on the Alliance side, but I will play horde as well. However, there are some people that will only play one side strictly over the other. I had a friend who refused to play the Horde. He viewed the Alliance as the good guys and did not want to play a bad guy.

I do have some comments I want to add in rebuttal to your take on the skill in the game but I want to consider it more before doing so. However, in general I agree that as far as character development goes, virtually anyone can make it to 60 or 70 if they play long enough.

Edited by RationalBiker
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  • 2 months later...

This is the story of my entire experience with MMORPGs. I started playing MMOs back in the old days when Ultima Online was fresh and shiny and new. To be honest, I'd attribute the current state of MMOs to what happened with UO from the years of 97-2000.

Back then, you could PVP freely and without bounds. Combat was non-consensual and completely skill based: who had the fastest fingers, the best strategy, the best combo. There was no such thing as a best character.

Lots of people couldn't handle that, though, and the whining got to a point where the game was massively changed. Of course that served as a springboard for EQ, followed by Asheron's Call, AC2, Star Wars, Shadowbane, WoW, Dark Ages of Camelot, Planetside, Eve, etc. Since UO, though, I can't think of a single game that didn't have levels and experience.

Ah, to be in those days again, running around with two or three of your friends attacking people while you communicate and coordinate mana dumps in teamspeak or ventrilo until you yourself get attacked by a group of five. Sometimes you outmaneuver them and win, sometimes you get lucky enough to escape with your skin, and sometimes you get crushed horribly in one blaze of mana dump.

:rolleyes:

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  • 1 year later...

I have been playing City of Heroes for a couple of months now, and I must say that I have been enjoying the experience a great deal. The experience is very different from Warcraft in that you have defined sides of good and evil, and you don't have to spend a LOT of time on it to gain experience, for example--- you just need to learn how to spend your time wisely. You can play the game solo (if you choose to play characters that are either Scrappers- essentially your Batman types- or Tankers -Superman. The other kinds such as blasters and controllers do somewhat well solo, but really thrive in teamwork the way Archers did in medieval warfare) or team up for the moment, or join Super Groups. The system therein is very different from the Warcraft Guild system... all in all, I prefer playing a heroic character.

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  • 1 month later...
I have been playing City of Heroes for a couple of months now, and I must say that I have been enjoying the experience a great deal. The experience is very different from Warcraft in that you have defined sides of good and evil, and you don't have to spend a LOT of time on it to gain experience, for example--- you just need to learn how to spend your time wisely. You can play the game solo (if you choose to play characters that are either Scrappers- essentially your Batman types- or Tankers -Superman. The other kinds such as blasters and controllers do somewhat well solo, but really thrive in teamwork the way Archers did in medieval warfare) or team up for the moment, or join Super Groups. The system therein is very different from the Warcraft Guild system... all in all, I prefer playing a heroic character.

I realize this thread is old, but since the OP, the game has been changed fairly dramatically.

There is much more "solo" content, although still repetitive. Daily quests; old world quests have been toned down in difficulty and need of a group and give increased experience (shortening game time); raids dropped from 40 people to 25 and 10, thereby increasing the need for skilled players; and Arenas are currently setup to award more skilled players on a ladder system. There is still an emphasis on group play and increased time = increased reward with dungeons, heroics, raids, battlegrounds and arenas, but just less-so. They basically made the game easier for individuals to progress their character, and by doing so, made the game much easier for group play.

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I also realize this thread is old but I've played a great number of single player games and MMOs and I think I have a good response to the article from the original post.

RationalBiker mentioned a lot of good reasons why the author of the article got it wrong about WoW. I will start by acknowledging its faults: WoW -is- set up to reward players for time spent. Skill means nearly nothing until you start getting up to doing raids and instances. In PvP arenas skill is less important than your class combination. But, this is where WoW got it right:

Leveling can be done completely solo (I've been playing since the BWL patch, which was less than a year after WoW came out) players have always been able to level up to 60, 70, or 80 (depending on which expansion you're on) completely solo. It is even easier -now.- This is for those introverts that hate playing with people. Personally, I hate playing with strangers. I have a very close group of friends on WoW that I play exclusively with.

Classes are easy to play, tough to master. This is important, the player needs to feel that the class he is playing makes sense, that he knows what he's doing, but there also has to be a point at which the player knows so much about his or her class that he can be leagues ahead of others who play the same class. WoW does do this.

Guilds are the same thing that every single other MMO that I've played has. From Vanguard, to EQ, to City of Heroes, Guilds are exactly the same thing. There has always been a way to form an organization of players that you can chat with and work together on a regular basis. This is a good thing, the quality of the guild is completely dependant on the players. If you're in a guild with a bunch of megalomaniacs, or socialists (yep, I've been in them) then your experience is quite likely to be completely horrible.

Now, could WoW use some improvement? Yes, it could. It lacks in many areas. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is a sub-quality game. But it is important that you know the scale. WoW is a bad game to me, but it is still -the best- MMO I've played. That says really bad things about other MMOs, but it's true. To butcher a Winston Churchill quote, World of Warcraft is the worst kind of MMORPG, except for all the others.

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I also realize this thread is old but I've played a great number of single player games and MMOs and I think I have a good response to the article from the original post.

RationalBiker mentioned a lot of good reasons why the author of the article got it wrong about WoW. I will start by acknowledging its faults: WoW -is- set up to reward players for time spent. Skill means nearly nothing until you start getting up to doing raids and instances. In PvP arenas skill is less important than your class combination. But, this is where WoW got it right:

Leveling can be done completely solo (I've been playing since the BWL patch, which was less than a year after WoW came out) players have always been able to level up to 60, 70, or 80 (depending on which expansion you're on) completely solo. It is even easier -now.- This is for those introverts that hate playing with people. Personally, I hate playing with strangers. I have a very close group of friends on WoW that I play exclusively with.

Classes are easy to play, tough to master. This is important, the player needs to feel that the class he is playing makes sense, that he knows what he's doing, but there also has to be a point at which the player knows so much about his or her class that he can be leagues ahead of others who play the same class. WoW does do this.

Guilds are the same thing that every single other MMO that I've played has. From Vanguard, to EQ, to City of Heroes, Guilds are exactly the same thing. There has always been a way to form an organization of players that you can chat with and work together on a regular basis. This is a good thing, the quality of the guild is completely dependant on the players. If you're in a guild with a bunch of megalomaniacs, or socialists (yep, I've been in them) then your experience is quite likely to be completely horrible.

Now, could WoW use some improvement? Yes, it could. It lacks in many areas. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is a sub-quality game. But it is important that you know the scale. WoW is a bad game to me, but it is still -the best- MMO I've played. That says really bad things about other MMOs, but it's true. To butcher a Winston Churchill quote, World of Warcraft is the worst kind of MMORPG, except for all the others.

What he said. I still think the game is fun despite some of the drawbacks, like time spent = reward. I've been leveling all the classes, skilling up all the professions. I think it does lack in terms of class and spell balance (in PvP), but with a game this size that has 10 classes and each class has 3 specializations, I can't imagine the work required to balance them all.

Overall though, I think the company has done a great job with WoW, and even all it's games. WoW is definitely the best MMO out there, and I may be wrong, but I think it's also has the highest number of players for any game. The only thing that can beat WoW is Blizzards next MMO, and even that is probably risky.

And yeah, there seems to be an awful lot of socialist thinking guilds out there. In fact, my server has one named <COMMUNISM>, and they recruit anyone and everyone (surprise surprise).

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I don't understand why the time spent is special in the case of an MMO. I realize that time is a very (the most?) precious thing a person has, but why is it any different than rationing your time wisely for any activity in life. The point is not to make the choice to spend unreasonable or unproductively large amounts of time on an MMO or any hobby. Would it matter if someone invested many long hours into tediously placing stamps into their stamp collection books, or making trips to the craft store to buy more materials to meticulously build their dollhouse? Personally I think that refurbishing old cars is totally boring and uninteresting, but I don't have a problem with someone spending a lot of their time and money doing so if they derive personal value from the activity. It seems like an obvious question to me of what is a value to whom and for what reason. Gaming period like any hobby is only as engrossing as you decide to make it.

The article also appeals to the old "fair" argument, which is just as vague and undefinable as it is in politics. I also can't help but see a tone of self-victimization in the authors article. He approaches the issue as though if you participate in an MMO you are forced to take certain actions which is a ridiculous but very common notion. If the time spent on MMO gaming is not of value to someone the answer is obviously not to do it.

On a related note, the owner of Brass In Pocket blogged about the selfless aspects of MMO gaming recently, I hope she doesn't mind if I mention it here.

http://raemeg.blogspot.com/2009/01/plays-w...ith-others.html

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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Whether WoW is explicitly an educational tool or not is irrelevant. An MMO is a social environment like a culture, and just as someone raised in America tends to develop American values, so someone "raised" in WoW tends to develop WoW values. I use "quotes" because WoW's influence over one's development is usually nowhere near as strong as one's domestic culture - but the point is that it does have some influence, and it's a bad influence.

The issue with heavily rewarding time spent playing may be clearer if you compare it to seniority rules in a company. An employee gets promoted and rewarded because they have invested 30 years into the company - despite the fact that their performance is pathetic, and they are not the most qualified candidate for promotion. In WoW, a player can duel you in the Player vs. Player arena, and despite the fact that he consistently makes the wrong move, he still wins, simply because he has invested more time into the game and thus has stronger stats and spells.

I have chatted online with the author of the article several times (his website is www.sirlin.net - he has some fascinating articles on game design and psychology). Though most of his complaints are just as valid as they were 4 years ago, he does admit that WoW has significantly improved since then.

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Since when is World of Warcraft an educational tool?

Something need not be an educational tool for someone to learn something from it. When I was a kid I learned some things from Playboy and I don't think that is supposed to be an educational tool. :)

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