I’m a Social Player: When Did this Happen?

We’ve all been there. That stack of rainbow goodberries has been taking up a spot in your inventory for far too long. It’s time to craft. As the monotonous filling and re-filling of the crafting bar begins to lull you into a hypnotic state, a new movement in your peripheral vision catches your attention. Guild chat!

I never thought I would be a social player. When I first logged into LOTRO several years ago, I avoided other players. The reputation of elite gamers belittling new players along with my unfamiliarity with RP tainted my expectations. To be honest, I still don’t like random grouping. I much prefer completing group content with people that I am familiar with and with who I have some kind of persistent connection. Coming from single-player games, I didn’t like that MMO’s designed systems specifically to force people together. I even had to ask somebody about the benefits of joining a guild.

But something strange has happened to me over the last four years. I’ve become a social player. Some of it was out of necessity, but some if it was out of pure boredom while doing things like crafting or riding a stable horse from place to place. What better time to pop a joke into guild chat than when you’re doing nothing other than hitching a ride between Suri Kyla and Talvi Muri in Forochel! Over time, this aspect of the game became so enjoyable that I would log in every night, whether I really had plans to play or not, just to see who was around. In fact, opening the guild tab is still the first thing I do when I log into a game. That point when my LOTRO kinship stopped logging in marked the start of my interest in the game waning.

So, I guess I am a social player. Those in my Guild Wars 2 guild will probably tell you that I can be pretty chatty in the channel. However, I still don’t think I speak up as much as I did in my LOTRO kin. It has nothing to do with familiarity. I’ve known most of the people in my new guild for at least a couple of years, either through my involvement in LOTRO Players or via Twitter. What I’ve noticed is that I’m getting pulled into different aspects of the game such as the personal story or a tough event, and when that happens not only do I not participate in chat, but I’ll go several minutes without even reading chat. This is good, I think. It speaks to the quality of the story and to the immersion of other aspects.

Still, there needs to be balance. In Guild Wars 2, the amount of strategic cooperation during combat (at least in the landscape, which is where I have the most experience) is fairly low. During dynamic events, everybody pretty much shows up, fights “together” in the same way that they would if they were attempting to solo, and then disperses. Thus, the need for communication during combat is also fairly low. In order to interact with members of my guild, I usually have to specifically seek out a safe (or safer) place to stop and respond. I haven’t tried crafting yet, but I’m guessing that would be a good time to participate in a little chat. While I’ve complained about crafting systems in the past, the more mundane systems do afford us the opportunity to interact with others. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that some level of dullness should be built into the game in order to encourage this type of downtime. It may seem counter intuitive, but encouraging social engagement as an alternative to a boring task is actually kind of brilliant! Imagine if every task in the game was so engaging that guild chat stood mostly stagnant for the remainder of your play session. Some people might enjoy that, but I wouldn’t. I like catching up and joking around with guildies over the course of the night. It’s all a small part of the big bundle of unwinding that I do of an evening while in-game.

I’m a social player after all.

Featured image by David Shankbone of Flickr Creative Commons

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7 thoughts on “I’m a Social Player: When Did this Happen?

  1. tsuhelm February 25, 2015 / 12:19 pm

    I find it makes a huge difference having kin chat to fall back on when playing LOTRO… when it gets busy it can get distracting and when its quiet I miss it!

    As others have pointed out recently, having some chatter in the distance makes playing LOTRO non solo again!

    I have found that the social aspect makes a huge difference and finding the right kin makes a huge difference to playing LOTRO, even if I am far from the most active player let alone kinnie, I feel at home and game on!

    Like

  2. Jeromai February 26, 2015 / 8:23 am

    Waiting for Tequat-Godot should be right up your alley then! 😛

    And pretty much any world boss on a set spawn timer… Or waiting for folks to gather for guild missions, or start the next mission.

    I’m less chatty and social by nature, waiting too long tends to bore me and send me to do stuff in another screen, but indeed, most odd social happenings do tend to occur during downtime, and I keep a stock of over a dozen shapechanging tonics and a costume brawl toy or two for such occasions in my inventory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Chestnut Stonebough (@ggchestnut) February 26, 2015 / 9:15 am

    I also seem to have become a more social player over time. I used to be one of those “elitist” folks, much to my own personal chagrin, but I’ve mellowed as I’ve met some really awesome people, and started exploring the spectrum of different games. Broadening my horizons. I never thought I’d fall into a “casual” or “social” player when I first started MMOs, but I’m glad I have. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Liore February 27, 2015 / 2:24 pm

    Welcome to Team Social! 🙂

    Chatting with people while doing grindy tasks is honestly one of the things I enjoy most about the MMO genre.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nothing to see here folks March 1, 2015 / 4:30 pm

    Yeah, I’ve had the same experience as you have. That is pretty much why I have quit playing LOTRO as well, I log in, see no one on and log back out. I have no doubt that eventually I will get the LOTRO bug again, but for now, the lack of someone nice to talk to and the familiarity has gotten me down. I am glad to know that I’m not the only one getting sucked into personal story etc on GW2 however! I get so involved in it I forget to check chat haha!

    Liked by 1 person

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