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The social soloer

December 6, 2009

In the eternal solo vs team debate around MMOs there are sometimes arguments that playing solo is somehow not social and that teaming up is the way to be social.

I find that teaming in MMOs inheritely have very little to do with social activities. I am social with people I choose to be social with. Being part of a team in an MMO is an organised way for a few people to reach a somewhat common goal, but so is taking the Metro to work.

In fact, there are plenty of occasions where teaming forces me to be less social than I was solo. Playing solo I have much better control of how my time is spent and I can choose when and how and who to interact with. In a team there may be less chance to do so, especially in PUGs where people are somewhat unknown entities. You may have to put more focus on the game mechanics and what other people are doing – if you do not know them well that will take extra effort.

I do like to team up though, either with friends or when there is some more interesting content to be experienced in a team formation. In the latter case the team could be real people, or NPC allies. Real people matter when the AI is not good enough.

The point here is that teaming is something that has very little to do with actual social interaction in games. It may happen, but it is not because people happen to be in a team. There is certainly enjoyment from team play also, but that is a different kind of enjoyment.

Categories: MMO Games
  1. Tesh
    December 6, 2009 at 20:51

    I’ve always seen groups as rather mercenary, actually. The “best” rewards and loot are found in group-exclusive content, and people who want it really aren’t necessarily grouping because they like playing with other people.

    I’ve said it before and will again: until playing with other people is in itself a reward, and fun to do, all of the “incentivization” or peer pressure to group up is really just pushing people the wrong way.

    • howtoloseyourlifetoanmmorpg
      December 7, 2009 at 07:06

      A 51 year old member of my RoM guild, who said he’s played MMO’s since they were invented, told me one night “In the end, MMOs are very selfish games”

      I don’t hold this to be a self-evident truth, but there is a lot of truth in that statement.

  2. December 6, 2009 at 22:39

    Yep. Grouping /= socialising. And the people who tell you to be more social in games are *actually* whingeing because they want other people to help them get their phat loot and they think it’s not fair when other people don’t immediately drop what they’re doing and accede to such reasonable demands.

    Can you tell which side I’m on? I’m a very gregarious and social person, but I am damned if I’m going to party up with a bunch of strangers to get phat lewtz I have zero interest in. I’d rather spend the same amount of time talking to my friends. đŸ˜›

  3. December 7, 2009 at 02:04

    I just don’t like people in general. I have to deal with idiots and morons all day at work, so why would I want to deal with them in a game that I am playing to get away from everything?

    But I agree with both Tesh and Ysh.

  4. December 7, 2009 at 02:29

    That’s a good point about grouping not always equating to socializing. I hadn’t really thought about it, but at least half of the PUG’s that I’m in there is very little chatting beyond what’s needed to complete the group’s quest. Often when it’s just a quick group with others in the same area doing a simple quest, there’s zero chatting.

  5. December 8, 2009 at 23:37

    To echo many here, great point. I’d say this is one of the more novel contributions to the great solo/ vs group debate that’s been raging across the blogosphere lately.

  6. JustAGuy
    December 22, 2009 at 22:58

    Through a few major MMOs I found myself pushing the boundaries of other people by asking why they tend to be so silent while grouping. It always struck me how un-social( if there such a word )people online actually are. On numberous occasions i found msyelf feeling wierd for showing interest in knowing who I group or simply asking something trivial to start a normal conversation. Perhaps its just me.

  1. December 7, 2009 at 14:11
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