Friday, October 16, 2009

MMOG: Have we forgotten the RP?

Of the approximately 450 World of Warcraft servers, only 35 are designated as 'RP.'

When I started my Wow existence shortly before the release of the Burning Crusade expansion, I joined the friend that got me into the game on Argent Dawn, a 'Role Playing' designated server.

The RP tag, however, seemed to have very little to do with what actually took place on the server. Like most good little budding Wow fanatics, I was rapidly sucked in by the amazingly creative and immersive world, and focused on learning how to play my rogue as I leveled him to 60, then 70. My interactions with 'RPers' were limited to the occasional request for assistance from someone blurting things like "Mine Good Sir, Culd I Request Of Thee Thine Good Efforts on My Behalf?" or being accosted by would be in-game wenches as I passed through Goldshire (as quickly as possible). For the most part, the term RP carried the negative connotations of someone who essentially did nothing in the game, made up imaginary activities, and generally didn't actually level, quest, or raid.

Personally, when picking up a quest I rarely read the text, merely skimming it for my objectives. I paid no attention to lore and simply focused on killing 20 of mob X or getting 15 of drop Y and min/maxing my performance. That big boss? Who cares why he's there. What you need to know is that he's especially vulnerable right after he does a shadow blast. Kill him! I found myself not really noticing the artwork in the world or even very much in instances; the world was there as a means to an end. The gear didn't need to be pretty. Sure, I liked a nice axe model as much as the next person, BUT: does it have good stats?

Killing bosses. Maximizing dps. Getting gear to maximize dps. Next boss. More Gear. More DPS. And on and on around the mouse cage of Wow we go.

I suggest that losing touch with the RP in MMOG has eviscerated our online gaming experience. We've allowed our priorities to be skewed completely to accomplishment, and not enough to enjoyment. We've allowed the poor souls locked in the King's English to put an acrid taste in the mouths of us all, leading us to forget to engage our imaginations while we play. As many an author has lamented the loss of creativity and imagination that seems to accompany the transition into adulthood, I lament the loss of my/our use of imagination and connection to our avatars as we wander Azeroth, Outland, and Northrend.

I'm not talking about walking around and speaking in silly jilted verse full of 'forsooths' and 'kind sirs.' I'm not going to stop attempting to maximise my raid performance.

Rather, I'm going to BE the Death Knight conquering the forces of evil in Northrend (as least in that imagination space in my mind). I'll pay attention to the art, the land, the world of Warcraft.

As Robert Brady commented regarding his granddaughter in an out-of-the-way blog (and the author's current blog): "she saw how it all worked, how to tell her own stories and it was ok, it was a part of her, that big doorway in her mind that she could open anytime to anywhere, and so she did and passed on through and back again..."

I pledge to endeavor to open my mind.
I pledge to open my mind to the possibilities of my life with my children, my spouse.
I pledge to open my mind to the possibilities of my life's work.
I pledge to open my mind to the experiences of Wow, and to the adventures of Hinenuitepo and the other cast of characters.

Silly, yes.
Simple, definitely.

And so much the better.

I pledge to put the RP back into MMOG.


  1. Very good point, although I do not RP (well, seriously at least), I still take the time to view the scencery of WoW as well as read through the quests a bit.

    Boredum? Maybe, but I do like to see the world "change" a little when I complete quests. This is in the sense that I feel as if I am actually doing something when I complete that chain in the Plaguelands, or I am really seeing Darion change at the end of the DK Starter Line.

    It is funny how few RPers there are now a days!

  2. As I said, I shunned RP until recently.
    I've realized 'Serious' RP doesn't have to be the kind that ignores the game itself. You CAN have your RP cake and eat it (raiding/'hard core') too!

    The RP I do will be in the realm of imagination - participating in the interactive experience of wow and my characters. My guildies will probably never know I 'RP' :)


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