Blaugust Day 14 – Don't be a Jerk

TL;DR – Project Gorgon… no wait, we’ll do that tomorrow. Introvert vs extrovert: don’t be a dick. Oh hey, I should be fired (from MMORPG).

I sat down to post about Project: Gorgon, which I finally got round to trying out for an hour or so yesterday, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I didn’t really get anything done other than being killed in a couple of interesting ways and trying to talk to a wolf who, shockingly, refused to respond in any way but by “Grrrr”.

As I was using my Google-fu to try and figure out where the game had put my screenshots, I saw that Twitter had some updates and clicked over to see this, from Aywren:

Click it. Watch the TED talk. Nod in agreement if introvert (vehemently in my case) or look bemused if extrovert.

And this scratched an old, old itch in my brain, one I still can’t reconcile and one which will presumably never change. Why is it that introverts can understand and empathise with extroverts, but the latter can’t seem to extend the same courtesy to us?

I’ve been here before. (I’m not going to add any other links because that post is dripping with them. The solo vs group introvert/extrovert debate has been going on since before some of you were born.)

Is it just a case of majority privilege? When white people — like me– in the West say we’re not aware of privilege, or when men say they’re not aware of it (especially white, anglo-saxon men), their saying they haven’t noticed something isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist. You may not have noticed that it’s raining but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that it is, actually, raining. (And don’t get me started on the fact versus opinion debate or we’ll be here all week.) Extroverts may not notice that pretty much everything around them is built for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Check out the TED talk, she’s much more eloquent about it than I am.

facts_huxleyI have no hard data but I’m pretty sure extroverts outnumber introverts*, just as group-type players outnumber solo-type players. And I will avoid the obvious fallacy of drawing a direct parallel between introvert and solo, and extrovert and group; even to me things aren’t that cut and dried. All the same, there are some definite parallels in terms of behaviour.

Extroverts tend to think everyone is like them — or if not, that they should be. My family has its fair share of both personality types, and it was my misfortune (and to be fair, my great good fortune) to be raised by a very extroverted mother. She claims to be an introvert but she recovers energy from being around people, which to me is one of the classic signs. She positively thrives on having people around. Me, I thrive madly for a very limited time, after which I become increasingly grumpy, bitchy, and anti-social. There comes a time when I have to physically get the hell away from everyone (or almost everyone) in order to feel like I can breathe again.

Point being, I get that my mother is like she is. I don’t tell her she needs to be more like me — I don’t even think it, because it’s pointless. She is what she is. There’s nothing wrong with being an extrovert.

And if that’s the case, why does it seem to be such a bad thing to be an introvert? Why does every last extrovert in the galaxy feel we introverts are somehow weird and mutated from the norm? My aunt (an introvert who spent her life pretending she was an extrovert and ended a bitter and angry woman) used to tell me literally ALL THE TIME to smile more. To look pretty. To smile. To not be so quiet. To not be in my corner. To smile…


To this day, being told to smile makes me want to punch something. Fortunately for the somethings I’m very conflict-avoidant and just punch myself mentally instead.

I’m generalising terribly here and I know it, but that’s because one can’t rant without drawing a few lines in the sand. So here are mine:

  • Extroverts: please, please try to understand (and empathise with) the fact that being around people, even people we love, is extremely exhausting for introverts. We are not like you. We should not have to be like you. If you desperately need other people, which I get that you do, then please find another extrovert to spend time with for a little while. Introverts are not closet extroverts who need to be dragged forcibly into the joy of in-your-face-ness.
  • Groupers: please try to understand that solo players often like to play by themselves, and respect that they do not have to justify this to you. Just because your playstyle is the majority one doesn’t mean we have to shoehorn ourselves into your mould. If you desperately need other people to play with, which I get that you do, then please find another grouper to spend time with for a little while. Just because solo players like to chat does not necessarily mean we’re frustrated groupers who just need to be taught how much better life would be if we could only learn to doublethink group all the time.
  • Introverts: please try to understand that extroverts aren’t really, literally, physically trying to suck the marrow from your soul. They can’t help being energetic around other people, it’s who they are. Understand that a little tact when needing alone-time can go a long way and that the OMFGGETTHEHELLAWAYFROMME! posture is the opposite of tact.
  • Solo players: please try to understand that groupers feel games are designed for them (you know, that MULTI- in MMO, because apparently ‘multi’ is synonymous with ‘always with others’) and that you are breaking the rules when you persist in wanting to play by yourself.

Okay fine, that last one was a bit obnoxious; but I am very, very tired of a battle that’s been going on for years. I will never surrender, which makes it even more exhausting. Being in a minority does not make it wrong to be me — because if that were true, then on a global scale that makes it wrong to be male. Yes, it’s that ridiculous. Or left-handed (which I also am). Come to think of it, being left-handed was seen as wrong until not so long ago – my left-handed mother had that hand tied behind her at school so that she could learn to write the ‘right’ way.

Being in the majority does not make you the only possible iteration of a thing. Being the ‘norm’ doesn’t mean that the non-norm is wrong, except possibly at the extremes of that case. Please bear that in mind next time you mentally castigate someone for being in your face, for not being in your face, and for wanting or not wanting to group.

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As a final aside, I found this while I was looking for an old column I wrote on the solo/group subject. As the more astute among you will deduce, that’s my real name. Wait, no. It’s my pseudonym! Whoops.


The forum post itself doesn’t seem to be there anymore, which is a shame since I never saw that at the time — or maybe it’s a good thing. I didn’t read comments and forum posts over there because of the inanity and vitriol-quotient, so it’s probably for the best. But I sure did like to stir shit among the masses now and then. And no, I don’t really have Bruce Campbell’s chin — there is only one Bruce Campbell.

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* Though apparently not by as much as we introverts tend to think


12 thoughts on “Blaugust Day 14 – Don't be a Jerk

  1. I’m not sure I can take the opinion of anyone seriously who misspells the word “column”…but then I can be a bit of a dick.

    The majority rules is, unfortunately, the thing that steers design in MMO’s. Fortunately, though, we are seeing a lot more games design for and focus on niche markets and playstyles, allowing those who are not terribly social to feel a compulsion to be forced in to group actions. Games like No Man’s Sky and Camelot Unchained’s crafting designs immediately spring up as examples. I hope the trend continues forward, even though I’m not what would be termed as a “classic” introvert. Honestly, it’s nice to have privacy once in a while.

    1. I think majority rules steers design in basically everything, not just games — which is all well and good, but the minority has a right to claim their identity now and then.

  2. Just between us I never read the comments on my MMORPG column because I just don’t wanna be bummed out. I think on my very first one the top comment was something like, “Oh my god did no one edit this, she’s the worst writer ever.” and I noped out pretty quick after that!

    1. I quite intentionally never looked at them — with a few exceptions, just to see what was going on, but it was inane for the most part. I stopped after the Xth accusation that I was just a big game company’s stooge. 😛

  3. Do you really think most MMO players are, by preference, group players? I’ve always thought that the group structure was an aberration, one that most people put up with because developers imposed it on them not because they liked it. My strong memory of playing EQ in the pre-WoW years is that there was a constant, sustained and vociferous demand from the playerbase for the game to be made more solo-friendly and that one of, if not THE key reason given at the time for WoW’s rapid ascendancy was that it was an MMO in which solo play was supported and encouraged.

    As a player who solos a lot more then he groups and always has done I’ve always thought of group players as a somewhat persecuted minority in most MMOs. It seems to me that the history of development of the genre supports that view too. The last decade has seen a wholesale adoption by MMO developers of core mechanics that make MMOs primarily a solo activity. True a lot of cosmetic work has been done to make it appear that players are socializing and grouping but in every meaningful respect the players with whom they are “grouped” are recruited and treated as NPCs.

    1. I won’t argue that most grouping mechanics these days are, if anything, *counter*-productive for anything but the basic kill-the-boss reason. But yes, I’m fairly sure the majority of players in MMOs are groupers — though to be honest my evidence is drawn solely from forum experience, other people’s blogs, the comments thereon, and my experience in a number of small and one large guild.

      Maybe it’s just that groupers are louder, as the introverts tend to be. But bear in mind that the EQ and WoW group content was designed by groupers. If soloers had been so prevalent, wouldn’t they have had a say in creating what I would consider to be more meaningful reasons (and rewards) for grouping?

      Dunno. My ‘evidence’ is not very empirical but I do usually provide plenty of caveats to that effect. 😀

  4. I’m an Introvert, and definitely need to recharge from people interactions. I do like people and enjoy them immensely, I just prefer one on one or small, known groups.
    In games, grouping seems to be presented mostly in the form of PvP, which isn’t much of a social interaction. Player as NPC with a (usually) better AI than developers can provide.
    A good dungeon group is an opportunity to work cooperatively with others, and to test out how you’re playing your class.

  5. Great post here and as a fellow Introvert, I really feel what you’re saying. Glad that posting that video (as random as it was) could springboard an interesting conversation!

    It does take time and explanation to help extroverts understand our position. My best friend of almost 15 years is an extrovert. I tend to be able to spend a good bit of time with her and not get too burned out for some reason. But she likes group settings, and that’s where I tend to nope.

    It’s taken us this long but I think we’re finally starting to come to an understanding. I do try very hard to step outside of my comfort zone for things like grouping with people, especially since my friend enjoys grouping for things (and FFXIV requires it). But lately, she’s been the one to champion my need to not always raid or run group stuff, explaining it to other members in our guild why it is I might politely decline an invite when everyone else is so ready to do all these runs.

    I don’t think she ever feels that kind of drain that I feel, but she’s come to understand enough (even as an extrovert) to explain and defend my choice not to be social and group when I’m just too worn out to do it. She didn’t always get it at first, though, and there were plenty of times she thought she was helping me out by trying to get me to get out more and meet other people. XD

    So, if you give extroverts time and patiently explain how things effect you, sometimes that goes a long way.

  6. I’m totally an introvert. I can’t stand other people and never ever need attention. Nope no attention for me please. Just the thought of it is scary. You should read my blog because it is introverted. /shudders!

    Great post by the way!

  7. There’s a tendency for people to make in-group and out-group generalizations very quickly these days, it seems, and Psychochild has been covering a bit of that impulse this week with regards to how polarizing social media is. “You’re either with us, or not like us and therefore the enemy” seems to be the unspoken line of thinking.

    I find it’s always helpful to bear in mind that these things exist on a spectrum. One will always have extremes on either end (and in the case of introversion, I am a definite case of extreme I, when I’m in save my sanity mode, I use OMFGGETTHEHELLAWAYFROMME without one iota of regret. 😉 )

    You almost always never hear about the middle grounders, eg. The “centra-verts,” I think they’ve taken to calling themselves, or those who are ok either soloing or grouping. Which is odd because if that spectrum follows a normal curve, the ones in the middle are the most plentiful.

    Oh, and I was curious about MBTI in relation to gaming, and MMOs in specific and wrote a post on it some time back. In the course of researching that, I stumbled across a 2004 paper that discovered there was a comparatively higher number of introverts (plus those with the Feeling preference) playing MMOs as compared to the number in real life – which is somewhere approximately 3 E: 1 I or thereabouts.

    So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the soloing playstyle was a strong preference in MMOs, especially when compounded with how naturally awkward it is for groups to have the same schedule/purpose to meet up, and how competitive oldstyle MMO design pitted each player against each other…

    Still, it’s an old study, just around the time WoW got popular. It’ll be interesting to find out if that ratio has changed now, what with the mainstreaming of the Internet and games.

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