It’s funny to be 33 years of age and starting to feel really old in the MMORPG community. Sitting below me are at least one, and probably two, new generations of gamers, all with their own ideas on what makes for a good MMORPG – and all of these ideas are wildly different to my own.
This is causing a serious disconnect in the industry as games developers, to my mind, try and chase the future and what they think “the kids” want to do in the year(s) ahead. And, in doing so, they are neglecting the game mechanics that my generation still believes would be the best underpinning for MMORPGs in the future.
OK, so it’s a lot more complex than this but, to paint it in broad brushstrokes, games developers are looking at the generation below mine which seems to think that an MMO: allows you to be the hero; allows you to level fast; shouldn’t be a “quest grind”; and is essentially about reaching a level cap and end-game content comprising raids and PvP, preferably for unique loot to deck out their characters. Because that’s an MMORPG, right? Not to my mind.
My generation, I feel, is more about: you don’t need to be “the” hero; you don’t need to have levels, but rather, skills that you can advance through use; and an end-game that is less about raids and PvP and more about continuing the journey, particularly via the use of sandbox tools and an imagination. And do you know WHY I think this is?
It’s really simple when you think about it. You see, my generation remembers a time when PCs and consoles WEREN’T in everyone’s home and, shock horror, we used to make our own fun with anything from action figures through to actual pen and paper RPGs, sitting around a table with our friends and families, socialising.
That’s why I feel the generation below me tends to treat MMORPGs like games that exist to be defeated, whereas my generation (and those older, too), wants to treat MMORPGs like virtual worlds that we are actually living in, where our level progression, loot, ability to raid, etc, is secondary to community and story and “being there”.
What do you think? Am I over-simplifying things too much? Or is there something to this? And, if there is, will we ever see a developer come up with a great concept and then stand tall and have the balls to say, “You know what? Our game isn’t about levelling and raiding and PvP… it’s about getting back to the roots of what an RPG is…”?
I hope so. But I’m not holding my breath, either.