Confessions of a Hypocritical MMO Player, In Three ActsOur June editorial finds us taking into consideration the people who can't put down their decade-old avatars.06.13.10 - 8:39 PM
Act I - Observations
I'll never forget the days of the budding MMORPG. Long before the market was saturated with free-to-play (F2P) MMOs, before World of Warcraft, in the days when EverQuest ruled supreme. Technically, even before the landmark Ultima Online there were text-based MUDs (Multi-User Domains) accessed via Telnet.
During those days, I had some respect for people who played MMOs. I had no intention of joining them, but it seemed like a neat idea at the time. However, as time passed, as the "EverCrack" label was thrown at addicts, as parents playing MMOs started neglecting their children, I decided to lump all of these players together. In my eyes, the few who were truly reprehensible became representative of the masses.
Later, as "MMO Addiction" was revealed to be a very real thing comparable to any psychological addiction, I continued to mock these players, not for their addiction but merely for their longevity. Even if they weren't playing 8 hours a day, but maybe just once in a while from week to week or month to month, I couldn't help but wonder: why are you still playing? You know, even with the existence of EverQuest II, there is still an active community of players on the first EverQuest and content expansions still happen in that virtual world.
I couldn't stand these people. I thought, "You've done virtually everything there is to do in the game. Put it down and try something else already!" That was my attitude toward these players for many, many years.
Act II - The Wiser Half Speaks
The two of you who stalk me and feed my underdeveloped ego know that there is only one MMORPG that I've played at length: Final Fantasy XI. It's my devotion to the FF brand that got me started; it was the strong story elements and the community that kept me going. I started in January 2006, but I hardly play the game anymore. I used to play as much as 20 hours a week, but these days it's more like 5 hours a month. Of course, regardless of how much you play, you still pay the same monthly subscription fee.
And that's why the wife spoke up. "You know, we're still paying for that darn Final Fantasy XI account. You hardly play it anymore. It isn't worth keeping up."
What she, dear thing, doesn't realize is that my grandiose, unrealistic plans extend beyond that. Not that I intend to, or look forward to, straddling two MMORPGs, but there is that whole Final Fantasy XIV thing happening. And, let's face it, there is an easy parallel to draw between EQ1 and 2 and FFXI and FFXIV. Some will prefer the older, some will move on to the newer, and some will try to play both. Everyone else, the vast majority of MMO players, will keep playing World of Warcraft.
Now, when I stop and think reasonably about this, I know that I will probably have to pick one or the other. Or, just stop playing MMOs altogether. I'm a father. I have a day job. My contributions to RPGFan and other enthusiast sites trump my desire to get the latest virtual trinket for my White Mage. So I made up my mind: I won't be like those people who have 10-year-old characters in EverQuest. I'll quit.
Act III - Resignation's Resignation: Or, A Change Of Heart
I logged onto FFXI the other day to make my "final preparations." My goal was to get through the end content of the Wings of the Goddess expansion so as to write a review for RPGFan. After that, I would be out. I'd let all my friends know that I was quitting, maybe offer up the paltry gil and gear I have before I go – the usual quitting spiel.
After all, I didn't want to commit to going through the three upcoming Abyssea add-ons and adjust to the game-changing level cap update (from 75 to 100, the first level cap increase since I started playing). It was too much. It was a sign I should quit. Right?
Wrong. I can't do it. I looked at my Tarutaru White Mage and smiled. He's a cute little guy! And we've been through so many adventures (thousands of hours worth of adventures, in fact). I couldn't bear to do it. So I changed my mind.
In doing so, I had to face the facts. I have become the same kind of person I ridiculed. Even though I'm not an "active" player (this terminology is relative among MMO players), I will continue to play an outdated MMORPG. The game is in its 8th year. The graphics are dated. There are inefficiencies in the game's system and structure, despite countless updates and fixes. Yet, I've decided that having invested so much time, I don't want to let go. Whether or not I try to reach level 100, whether or not I complete the events offered in the Abyssea expansions, I will keep my Taru alive.
Will I be one of those people who holds out until the servers are someday taken down? I doubt it. But for the foreseeable future, I'm stuck on my archaic MMO and my puny little healer avatar. As such, I've taken a "live and let live" approach to judging other MMO players. Unless you are actually letting these games affect your work or home life, play what you want. Enjoy the outdated, less popular MMO. I'll stop being an elitist jerk, I promise.
Who's with me?