It’s All Cosmetic, It’s All Mini-Games

I have one social networking game left, and as I clicked things in my imaginary restaurant, I remarked to myself that I use my imaginary currency for gameplay-relevant items rather than cosmetics. Then it struck me that there was only vaguely potentially gameplay benefit from perfecting my 132nd recipe, even though that is pretty much what you do in the game. I look at some of the cosmetic items and wonder why you would spend that much (real money) on something that does nothing for you, then I wonder what good it does me to be at the level cap. Heck, I have so many “gourmet points” beyond the level cap that I am instantly at the new level cap whenever they raise it. So what does that do except for putting an 85 next to my name in a game relatively few of my friends even deign to notice?

I am rigidly gameplay focused. I am not visually stimulated enough to care about most cosmetic options. But there are no meta-ethics that privilege gameplay over other aspects of the game, nor any that say you should care much about any game. Why should anyone be impressed that you have 6 level-capped WoW characters? You know there are people who will actively look down on you for it.

I am not much of a raider. I have dabbled, but I am not drawn by what boils down to online choreographed dancing. I am drawn to crafting, but I do not expect you to be terribly impressed by my ability to grind out 600 fields of imaginary strawberries. I do not hang out at the Prancing Pony, and while I appreciate in the abstract that someone might be one of the most respected RP leaders on the server, it will not mean much to me, nor might you much care about my time writing for the events team on A Tale in the Desert a few tellings ago.

Viewed as a mini-game, MMO combat is usually pretty poor. Tab-1-1-2-1-1-4, next. Bejeweled requires more thought than solo WoW. But it is the central mini-game supported in WoW, with most of the other mini-games contributing to it. There are crafting mini-games that are even less dynamic. RP is a mini-game that can be entirely independent of the game mechanics. The economic mini-game of the auction house is probably the most thought-intensive, and that is a skill that carries over between games (and potentially into meatspace). But does it do you much good to hit the gold cap in WoW, or is it just decorative once you are past however much money you “need”? Well, does it do you much good to be at the level cap in WoW, or is it just decorative once you have enough levels to do whatever amuses you in-game? I suppose the combat and gear optimization mini-games help you with the other mini-games like completing achievements, collecting mounts and mini-pets, and having resources to buy your way to the end of some other mini-games.


: Zubon

3 thoughts on “It’s All Cosmetic, It’s All Mini-Games”

  1. That was upbeat.

    The original ‘vision’ for the genre however was to take what people loved about RPGS (playing a character and all that), replace the town NPCs and party members with PCs, and make the adventures ‘count’ more. It worked in UO.

    Then at some point ‘accessibility’ set it and now many ‘MMO’ games do their best to keep you away from everyone else so you can enjoy your adventure solo, while still being online, paying monthly or per-pixel. But without the solo-optimized gameplay of an actual RPG.

    Hence, 1-2-1-4, pixel shower, repeat.

  2. You have to tread lightly here, basically highlighting what many, many, millions of people consider a worthwhile endeavor to really be the abject waste of time that it is is a little dangerous. I agree with you, though. I, like you, am not into the raiding scene… I find spending hours to throw oneself up against a boss (choreographed online dancing… very nice), for a slight chance at a marginal upgrade seems pointless. If the upgrade was huge, then yes, it would seem worth it… but then most people won’t let you join in if your gear is that bad that it needs that big of an upgrade. So the value/time becomes so low as compared to what you already have it becomes meaningless. But this is the way of mostly all MMO’s and their endgame…

    I am unlike you because I’m not huge on crafting either. I crafted my computer system from hand, I crafted the desk it sits on, I crafted the meal I ate last night (not true… we ordered out… but this is usually true), but spending tons of time crafting a new sword, agian when the final product is marginally better at best? Meh.

    However… I still do them. Will I still craft that sword? Yeah. Will I still throw myself at that boss? Yeah (non-raiding, though, especially scheduled raiding… ugh). Why? Because I enjoy the pure entertainment of it. I could watch a movie, or watch TV, or go to the bar, or hang out with friends, or read a book, etc. These, to me, are all forms of entertainment that are comparable to each other. MMO’s tell a story you interact with with other people, as opposed to movies and books that tell a story you just read, as opposed to the bar or friends that tell a story you are a part of. But I feel sometimes, that I am truly in the minority while I play MMO’s because I don’t consider it impressive to have 6 level capped characters, or that they have the 12th-tier equipment, or that they reached max level in 3 days, etc. Its just not impressive to anyone but he who accomplished it…

    But I will still play because I do truly enjoy it, and that is the only reason that matters.

  3. @Mikey: to those who are actually interested in raiding, the gear is a means to an end (raiding harder stuff), not the other way around. Can’t claim to understand people like you that only value the gear.

    Scheduled raiding is better, as you get used to a group of people which makes it easier and more fun. You know exactly when you will be able to raid (obviously you don’t run with a group that doesn’t fit your schedule) and don’t have to waste hours trying to find adequate, willing puggees.

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