Saturday, May 19, 2007

Why WoW players complain so much.

This is not a very "deep" article; if you know the first thing about MMOG social dynamics, you can move on, because this is quite literally that first thing: The phenomenon of MMOG complainers. It's not an explanation of the "how", since not even the greatest minds in the industry can come up with a satisfactory answer in my opinion as to the root causes of such behavior... just the "why" this behavior manifests itself in WoW the way it does.

Never before has an MMOG reached such a mass-market. People who are very casual game-players - the console-loving "HALO crowd" for example - play WoW in droves. Many of them have never given an MMOG a second look since everquest, and most have no idea how the social dynamics of an MMOG work. So, you have a huge proportion of the players not knowing how things generally go in an MMOG community, and a huge number of players.

What all these people would know, if they played MMOs, is that the vast majority of the bitching and moaning - and basically all of the bitchy, moaning rebuttals to said bitching and moaning - is completely ignored by everyone except for other bitchy moaners. We all have bitching and moaning to get off our chest once in a while, and when it's well-thought-out, poignant, and grammatically consistent, it can maybe, just maybe, change a small piece of the game forever. Mosty of the time though, it's drowned out in the official forum's shouting matches - and raising your voice only makes you more indistinguishable from the rest.

Without the slightest veterancy in the genre, WoW players are more likely to treat the internets like Serious Business, and wax despairing over their squandered 15 dollars a month, which in the USA probably wouldn't buy enough dog food for a single dog to survive. As Penny Arcade's Tycho has often attested, the difference between free and paid-for changes the percieved entitlement a ridiculous amount in the average gamer.

So, in general the tendency is for people who don't like MMOGs to have really loud voices - remember, these people wait years for that one MMOG they think sounds the best to come out, then are expected to shell out money for as long as they shall play - and to boot, WoW players haven't learned from history, so in terms of community it's more like a sequel to EverQuest than EQ2 can ever be.



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