There has been some critical concerns about the anticipated gameplay of SWTOR – namely that it you, the gamer, will end up playing large parts of the game solo. This is a concern that echoes design decisions made in other products as far back as reducing the grouping size in SWG from 20 to 8 or Azerothian mobs being stripped of their elite status and becoming easily soloable. “The MM in MMORPG means ‘Massively Multiplayer’! Why play a ‘massively multiplayer’ game if you’re going to play it solo?” was the argument put up against these changes. Luckily for me and my absolute inability to post here more than a couple of times per year, Zubon has recently touched on this very subject in his post, Unforced Grouping. But I think there’s a more subconscious reasoning going on than the low investment requirements of soloing or the high potential for a bad grouped experience. I think we’re afraid.
Two things I learnt from the whole Blizzard/RealID brouhaha:
1. Something something privacy something schadenfreude something something srs bsns man!
2. There is no hope for the human race.
I’m not going to discuss the merits of Blizzard’s ex-proposal because it’s a) complicated b) I don’t particularly care and c) I’d probably come down in favour of Blizzard’s plan A as anything that causes that amount of upset is highly likely to be A Good Thing. Anyway, I don’t want to offend anybody reading this as, statistically speaking, there’s a 128.3% probabilitized chancical factor that any single one of you could be an unhinged lunatic who will track me down and kill me to death.
So let’s just all agree that the RealID scheme was bad. An excellent and incisive comment on a metafilter thread about RealID covers a lot of the salient reasons why this is so. The tl;dr version is this:
- Girls will get harrassed.
- Minorities will get harrassed.
- WoW players will get harrassed.
- Non-WoW players will get harrassed.
- Parents of players will get harrassed.
- Parents of non-players will get harrassed.
- (By inference) Non-parents of players and non-players alike will get harrassed.
- Trolls will still inhabit the dingy depths of the Blizzard forums, harrassing people.
- And, probably, being harrassed.
Over at Eating Bees, Community Management goddess, Sanya Weathers also reckons that Blizzard would eventually have gotten sued for wrongful death. Yes, she said death and no, she’s not overreacting. Meanwhile, Alec Meer, games journalist and writer over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.¹ tweeted a little tweet about the topic:
“I’m trying to not be sensationalist about the Real ID stuff, but if even one nutter uses it as a stalking/murdering tool it’s indefensible.”
Now it’s all very well me being glib and sound like I’m taking the piss out of these guys but I’m not. Because they’re not wrong. Except Alec. Who is wrong and is being sensationalist and I know this because while we’re up in arms about RealID, we’re taking our eye off the metaphor and not demanding that other systems or games be removed because of exactly the problems that were foreseen if RealID had gone through. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s try some variations on Alec’s tweet:
“I’m trying to not be sensationalist about that Facebook stuff, but if even one nutter uses it as a stalking/murdering tool it’s indefensible.”
(“Did Facebook jealousy lead to murder?“)
“I’m trying to not be sensationalist about that Counterstrike stuff, but if even one nutter uses it as a stalking/murdering tool it’s indefensible.”
(“Video game fanatic hunts down and stabs rival player who killed character online“)
“I’m trying to not be sensationalist about that Internet War Games stuff, but if even one nutter uses it as a stalking/murdering tool it’s indefensible.”
(“German war games fan ‘killed British student due to obsession with girlfriend‘”)
Here’s one last one:
“I’m trying to not be sensationalist about the internet stuff, but if even one nutter uses it as a stalking/murdering tool it’s indefensible.”
(You can find your own links for that one. Share them, if you like. Think of it as a sort of “show and tell” exercise. Or not.)
As the cat said, they are in ur gamez, plnning ur demize.
I could follow this through to a mind-blowing philosophical conclusion but I’m not going to because a) it’s self-evidentially a priori south-facing or whatever it was my philosophy lecturer kept interrupting my afternoon snooze about b) I haven’t got a conclusion and c) Mother told me not to talk to pretty girls or digress off topic.
So it would seem that the real reason we want to solo in MMOs is because, deep down, we suspect that every other single player in our MMO du choix is, in all likelihood, a sociopath and will plot dire and lethal revenge against us if they in any way suspect that we think their gear is not up to scratch. Perhaps sensibly, it’s a reason that we’re not really admitting to ourselves. We’re certainly not admitting to anyone else – Mrs Beeton never explained the proper etiquette about telling someone that you don’t want to group with them because you suspect they’re a cucumber sandwich (with trimmed crusts) short of a picnic.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.
¹Carling don’t make websites about PC gaming, but if they did, it would be Rock, Paper, Shotgun