It ain’t what it used to be
Time-zones can be a bitch, but they can also be quite useful for inspiration. See, by the time I get up my little British (and Euro) chums have already done their morning posts and, as I peruse them over coffee, I can get all sorts of ideas I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.
This one is Spinks’ fault, again. The post itself is on MMO burnout and how to avoid it — a feat I’m not sure is actually possible — but a passing comment in the text was what drew me to comment and then, shock-horror, made me have a thought of my own.
Here’s the catalyst:
The first thing that strikes me is that many players (probably the majority) don’t ever go through the mastery and burnout phases. They hop straight from ramping up to casual, possibly even skipping the ramping up phase if the game offers that option.
The original posit comes from Nick Yee’s gaming life-cycle idea. (As an aside, if you’ve not read any of Nick’s stuff you really should. It may not be entirely right all the time, but it’s a pretty awesome body of work.)
What caught my eye on Spinks’ commentary was her assumption that casual players aren’t interested in mastery, which is defined by Nick Yee as “The player is at the higher-end of the game and is either well-situated in a guild and doing raids, or happily soloing high level quests, or competing in PvP content.” [My emphasis.]
Spinks sort of ignores the soloing stuff in favour of saying — I think — that mastery basically means raiding, and that most players aren’t hardcore enough to ever want to master their character well enough to raid. NOTE that I am doing a bit of a hatchet-job on paraphrasing her because I’m trying to get to the point a little more rapidly than I usually do; her post is, as usual, well worth reading for its own content We’re still in the ramping up phase here.
(See what I did thar?)
I chipped in with my usual “Power to the slackers!” comment, in which I — fairly, I think — pointed out that while I don’t raid I do like to master what my characters can do and get the feeling that I’m playing competently. I may claim to be crap but that’s more often than not modesty, with or without a dash of false. I don’t move in exalted expert-player circles so although I think I’m actually pretty competent with my chars, I’m never really sure. Besides, as far as I’m concerned char mastery should be a zen thing: you can always learn to do better.
I’m also mostly nit-picking with Spinks because I like to hold up my little “Slacker” placard on her un-noobish hardcore site.
But then I had an actual thought.
We’ve spent so many years assuming that raiding is a mastery activity, because it used to be. But is it still?
Everyone knows I don’t raid, so I’m not necessarily competent to expound on this subject but I sure as hell can speculate since that’s free and requires zero skill. I do also have a few friends — no, really — who raid, and I’ve been listening to stuff they’ve had to say for some years now.
And one of the things they say boils down to “Raiding ain’t what it used to be.”
So if the only hardcore thing about raiding is giving up half your spare time, because the actual challenge of the raids has pretty much gone bye-bye, how hardcore is that really?