rand(Kindness)

It’s the end of random week.  It was a good one with a guest post on managing community expectations, thoughts on MMO biological conditioning, random raid poop and balls, and I even got to sneak in an article on food.  I actually had trouble for the closing post.  Should I do a puzzling haiku?  How about writing in an errant random matter?  I could’ve started an all out attack against other blogs to find my nemesis.  It’s Friday after all.  All blogger sins are forgiven on this day.  I had considered a post on random acts of kindness yesterday afternoon, but Suzina’s latest post cemented the decision.  It is nice, after all, to have some synergy on our blogomerate.

Most devoted MMO players are protectionists.  If a player makes it past Blizzard’s fabled level 10, the player starts to care about the game.  The character gains some degree of permanence, and things start to matter.  Then this feeling grows in step with the advancement of the character.  Things like friends, guilds, and community start to become important.  The road to becoming a fanboy is paved with progression mechanics.  Eventually the MMO player becomes a defender of the realm.  Her realm.

Yet, their gaze is outward.  These defenders see gold farmers, cheaters, bad developers, and other MMO games as the enemy.  They stand valiantly against this horde willing to protect their land wherever there is an audience.  Most of the energy is simply wasted.  The good developers are already drawing the battle lines, and they can do so with magnitudes more effect than the powerless player.

If these defenders of the realm just looked inward instead they would realize just how much power they actually have.  Only instead of fighting the personified evils of the MMO world, they have to realize their power is in nurturing.  The community is theirs to create (or destroy).

There are so many actions of random kindness the defenders can take, which are so simple, and can have such a resounding effect.  A wealthy player can become a veritable Robin Hood to poorer players.  A knowledgeable player can pass on wisdom so that player-students can learn the game without being ridiculed.  Even the simple act of sticking around to help the next player with the boss spawn can lighten a person’s day.

This perfect world is but a Friday dream, but I have seen differences.  In Syp’s recent Massively column for Lord of the Rings Online, his first reason for playing the MMO is community.  Merric and Goldenstar discussed his list in their podcast, A Casual Stroll to Mordor, and compared the Lord of the Rings Online community to World of Warcraft’s, where they felt belittled at every turn.  Can it be so simple that a happy community creates more of a happy community?  Have MMO communities created an unsafe place where players are afraid to ask for any simple kindness?

I can tell you that I remember the time one of the server’s elite took hours of his time to teach my casual guild a raid.  I cannot remember specifics to any rage-quit scenarios that left us with empty spots.  I can tell you that I remember the time I gave a guildie half my gold so he could buy a mount because my gold was just sitting there.  I cannot remember any time I needed help and no one answered, though I am sure it has happened plenty.  I can remember how much fun it was to play Santa Claus to all the freshly minted players arriving out of the noob world. 

This weekend, I plan on making more good memories.

–Ravious
my simple religion

12 thoughts on “rand(Kindness)”

  1. One of the most fun things in an mmo for me is being able to help other players. It makes them happy because they get help and it makes me happy because I feel good about myself. It’s a win win situation.

    Unfortunately the level based structure of most games makes it hard to be useful if you lag behind someone. at times I have found myself lagging behind my guidlies and I hated feeling useless. A level 60 can be a big help to a level 40 but the level 40 can’t return the favour.

    1. “A level 60 can be a big help to a level 40 but the level 40 can’t return the favour.”

      I have often been the “youngster” in my groups, always tagging along at the back of the pack when it comes to levels. While it is true I could not often jump in on quests or instances to help the higher level players, there were plenty of ways I could find to contribute.

      I might have information from a forum or blog that answers a question, I might be able to help someone who is just learning a new crafting profession, or I might be able to help out using *my* crafting profession.

      And then there is always the pay it forward model. A higher level helps you, so you can turn around and help the next generation of characters. :)

  2. I made a character specifically to play Santa in Puzzle Pirates. Jollyoldelf will be the conduit that I distribute my accumulated *stuff* through one of these days. I don’t have much, but it’s fun to give. In the meantime, he’s a jolly soul, giving freely of knowledge and experience, as well as sharing a good disposition. That’s proven even more valuable.

    Similarly, I’ve spent a LOT of time in the forums, writing tutorials here and there, and helping people with forum contests. The community over there has a lot of people like me, many of whom give a lot more than I do. It really does have a very different tenor than most MMOs, and that’s one reason why it’s my MMO “home”. As much as I like exploring other places, Puzzle Pirates is simply more welcoming and fun to be a part of.

      1. I’ve made more friends in the PP community via the forums than from playing the game. Maybe I’m weird that way, but it’s a function of how I’ve approached the game.

    1. Oh, and to be clear, that may simply be because I’ve given more to it. My perception of the game community changes because of what I do for it, not so much because of what it does for me.

      It works like that in “real life”, too.

  3. “The road to becoming a fanboy is paved with progression mechanics.”

    That has a serious shot at quote of the week in my mind.

    I wonder if there are differences that we could tease out among MMOs that explain how the communities pan out. Is it niche versus popular? PvP versus PvE? Is it some mojo the CM guys manage to work in some cases but not in others?

  4. It’s fun to give someone an unexpected gift. One time in LotRO, someone was playing some music outside the Bree auction hall. I stopped and listened and struck up a conversation with the player when he was done. He was a musician offline, and found the ability to play music in LotRO to be a lot of fun. I can’t play music that well, but it’s fun to load up songs. I had taken a few of the M59 midi tunes and converted them to play them in LotRO. I had finally started making good money on the AH, so I threw the level low level character a few hundred pieces of silver. I’m not sure if he stuck with the game, but it was a generous tip for someone having fun with the game.

    Whenever I help someone, I always tell them to “remember others when they need help.” The “pay it forward” thing. Hopefully being kind to others encourages them to pass that kindness along.

  5. Why pay it forward in a mmorpg?

    We pay it forward in the real world because we live on a big dangerous rock hurtling through space.

    This shows how mmorpgs trick people into applying real life habits that pay off in real life, to a game. Much like a moths useful, navigate by the stars habit is tricked by the flame.

  6. Funny how a topic just seems to be karma What I miss while solo’ing or crafting, since I am often in far too much pain to give a group 100%, is the joy of suprising someone with gifts of a drive by spell in or weapon they can’t hope to get for a few more levels.

    so while I been busy growing the vegetables for my Hobbit Burglars 11 meals per day, I figure she can well afford to give up any seeds she has left over to some other farmer who is just as likely to have extras that the vendors will only give a few coppers for.

    It’s not the same as drive by buffs at the Orc Lift, but I will hope that even the little I can do now will get passed on t someone else someday.

    All I ask is when I start my newbie you don’t go trinking my characters, as my old guild from NWNo did, when I started playing EQ. I had to make alts and hide from them, or I would never learn how not to be a newb.

  7. That’s the worst part of playing a Warlock. I can still do drive-by-buffings, but they aren’t very useful at all :(

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