Quote of the Week: Togetherness

When you play with a set group, much of the ‘content’ is experiencing the stuff together, so even bugs or grind can become a source of amusement because you have 10 people in vent bitching about it and laughing rather than just you smashing your head into it solo.

This is something I address frequently, but from another direction. If you the player are supplying most of the ‘content,’ it does not matter what the game is. We just need something as an excuse to do it together. I, as the customer, tend to demand that the game keep up its end of this transaction by contributing something, sometimes anything to the process. It is dumb to pay a monthly fee to a company that is not comparing favorably with playing Hearts. Many games contribute negatively, making it harder to play with your friends. Don’t pay for that.

Just because you had a good time does not mean that it was good. “So bad it’s good” is still bad. The items SynCaine cites are still bugs and bad grind, even if you can find a way to enjoy them. It would be objectively better to have good content to share and discuss, rather than simply “misery loves company.”

Our guild has a lovely time gathering for the 30-second cut scene reveal, but the event did not add much beyond creating a Schelling point. We created the content by being there, but we can/have done that nightly be declaring guild events. We had a guild event the night before: the Mad King’s Clock Tower. Many of us had a good time talking, groaning, sharing advice, shouting about norn and charr, adjusting graphics settings, etc. We all got the achievement. We appreciated the art, and we recognized which aspects were not conducive to a good experience.

I am not looking for products and experiences where I get out of it what I put into it. I can get that anywhere. The things I really value give me back more than I put it. Demand more.

: Zubon

9 thoughts on “Quote of the Week: Togetherness”

  1. I’m not convinced that any human activity can “give me back more than I put into it”. Not, at least, when what’s being put in and taken out can only be experienced and quantified subjectively, which applies to all known forms of entertainment or amusement. If it wasn’t in me to begin with I can’t imagine where it would be coming from.

    Re SynCaine’s observation, I do wonder just how many MMO players regularly “play with a set group”. I wouldn’t take that to mean “with people in the guild I am in” but to mean something like TAGN’s “instance group”, people who have played together in a single group for a number of years. I did do that for a couple of years back in 2002-2004 and while there are things about it that I miss, on balance I would definitely say I prefer the more solipsistic way that I play today. Bit of both is probably best.

  2. The context matters. Inq had a sizable group for GW2, yet that game fizzled faster than most for us, mostly because what it provided we would get (in better form) elsewhere, while not really giving us a reason to play together towards something. On the other hand, Darkfall, with all its flaws, gets the long-term group-goals aspect right, and at least based on our retention, that counts for a lot more.

  3. Counterpoint: In my (admittedly very particular) case, demanding more would be asking for a more engaging and fun experience, regardless of how many people are participating in it. Other than roleplaying, I get exactly zero more enjoyment of game activities when they are group activities.

    I don’t see anything magical in group activities that increases the fun level by (n) just by the virtue of having others there. And historically speaking, whatever fun I had in group activities happened -despite- others being there rather than -because- they were there, which speaks about the thing in itself and how fun it was rather than the other players around me and how many were there.

    Let us be seated now and turn to Psalm 134 of the Holy Online Litany; “O Lord, Why Doth He Play MMOs At All”, sung by the Commenter Choir.

    /cue organ.

    1. “Other than roleplaying, I get exactly zero more enjoyment of game activities when they are group activities.”

      Okay, but you enjoy roleplaying with other people then? You are not completely the “hates other people and engages in group activities all the time just to prove it” type, right?

  4. My experience after six years of a regular standing group indicates that the game and what it provides totally matters to us.

    Games that individuals in the group are not enjoying, for whatever reason, get dropped. And “too easy” is clearly one of the factors, which is why we stopped playing WoW, why I worry about Rift after patch 1.11, and why GW2 isn’t likely. (That last is based on two people in our group who are playing GW2, not my external opinion.) We need something that challenges us to some degree, but which isn’t insanely hard or broken, and in which we can accomplish something in our standard three hours on a Saturday night.

    As a parallel, I was in a group that played cards together every other week for 15 years. We tried a few different games and ended up with a rummy game we all liked, and we played that for most of the run of the group. We did other things together as a group, but never on cards night. That was about playing cards. The group ended last year when two of the four regulars moved out of the area. We were there to play cards and we always played cards when we were there.

    My wife, as a different example, used to have a monthly scrapbooking night with friends at our house. For a while they scrapbooked and had martinis. Then they sat around with their scrapbooking stuff packed up and just had martinis. Then there was a push for honesty, along with a desire to not carry around all that damn scrapbooking stuff, and the monthly even was simply renamed to martini night, and it is just friends getting together and it does not matter what they do. Sometimes they just talk. They have played Rock Band. There was a jewelry party one month. That is the group that could be playing hearts because they would just be hanging out still.

    Our regular instance group isn’t like that. The game matters to us.

  5. I think it is a mix of the two; the game has to conform to certain levels of the groups desires but when you have several that do, I do think that the game becomes less important than the group. They’ll settle on one of those options and stick with that. My WoW guild played it far longer than any of us were genuinely interested in WoW because it was a game we could all play together (we had varying skill levels and it was fairly accommodating). So I agree that the group is often what makes things fun.

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