Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Deeper into the community

I've been reading about work place cultures lately and formation of different types of cultures. The fact is, these theories and studies, when done and written properly, are more or less transferable to any group of people involved with similar interests.

Thus I've been making some connections with the stuff I've been learning for work and with the Metropolitan Players post I made a while ago. In that post I compared the current state of WoW population being that of a population of a metropolitan city: busting with action and no interest or concern over what the passerby is doing, thinking or planning. In the worst case this goes as far as the random dungeon experience, where you easily treat the other player characters as moderately working AI characters.

As in all societies or groups of people, there are bound to form structures. Call them tribes, creeds or guilds. The stuff that drives these groups forward is the motivation to work for a common cause. In special circumstances these groups of people will exceed the individual level of expertise of its members, but usually it is the lowest nominator which states the achievable results.

In MMOs - and in WoW particular for being so huge - the problem is to show the values of the guild to form a tightly knit group of individuals willing and motivated to work together to the fullest. Usually the guilds are advertising with the general terms like "nice social levelling and raiding guild", "good mature guild" or "mature group willing to raid later on". Very seldom - if ever - you will actually see something stating about the values or aims of the group in question.

Due to this and lack of general social tools in game, it is neigh impossible for a player outside of a group they feel their own in spirit to find one. There are no actual meeting places to find like minded people save the dreaded guild hopping from one to another till something clicks. The LFD tool took the last bit of server reputation off of your shoulders and at the same time took away the only spot where you could have made those connections with people on the same server, which might have given you any sort of direction to look for a group with same thoughts about the content or life in general.

WoW community, which is so much discussed everywhere every now and then is in fact an infantile community. It revolves around the Me, Myself and I in the elitism and respect, with certain aspects from This Game Sucks and My Game Sucks. For well performing guilds, which are not driven only for the individual gain of the GM or an elite officer group, it may go to the common good ground of We Are Good.

For the lonely soldier in the levelling trenches, to find that group in which one can state that We Are Good is a part time job alone. For it is not enough to feel that I Am Good, when the ones you are bound to be compared are already raiding at highest level with their own special group.

Especially when there are no connecting points in the community to introduce yourself, your personality, your skills and your abilities to the groups desperately seeking a team player.

The groups seeking a specialist are in another pit: they can get the specialist, but what might be the personality and how will that fit into the group?

And will it be determined fast enough to avoid any damage?

MMOs at the moment are enjoyable group endeavors to those who travel within their own social contact group. They are a massive single player game to those who are not in any existing group, and there are less and less possibilities to find people with similar mindset in the typical DIKU mud due to the achievement oriented power levelling culture which is present in the games. Like the destination is more important than the journey, the way it IMO should be.

It is not the destination that determines the hero, but the journey during which his integrity is put on test.

Maybe public quest types can be of some remedy to this?