Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Sense of Community

As Robert E Howard observed through his hero, Conan the Cimmerian, in 1933's "The Tower of the Elephant":
Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

Poor Scary Booster. He is losing his faith in humanity, at the least the segment of humanity that plays MMOs. As the popularity of MMORPGs has grown exponentially over the past decade or so, the burgeoning community has evolved from a relatively small group of enthusiasts to a metropolitan throng of varied participants. Many of the original core are there, though many of those are disillusioned with the current state of the "community." I've touched on this topic before. In comments on that post, it was pointed out that elements of the original community were not particularly nice either.

The theory of the Monkeysphere has been a recurring theme in my mind and my blog of late; it answers many of the issues that Scary and other gamers have with the state of the community. With so many of us spread across multiple games and mostly hiding behind our computers, there are those who feel free to act out and ruin the enjoyment of others in various ways. At the very least, most players seem selfish in their quest to reach the pinnacle of whatever mountain they are climbing, caring little for the interests and welfare of those around them. Unfortunately, this is a condition of society at large, not just the gaming world.

That's not to say I have a cynical or even negative attitude about the gaming community. I am, however, a realist. Human nature is such that, as a community grows, it becomes more impersonal. That jerk on the road may have cut me off, but do I need to get my blood pressure up over it and develop a case of road rage? Unfortunately, I have gotten road rage on occasion. It has never helped the situation, nor made me feel any better. My last speeding ticket--after decades of not getting any--was the direct result of my own impatience with another driver. I need to remember that few people are there being malicious. They are just indifferent. I am outside their monkeysphere.

After a few years of being told that RPers in MMOs are weird (by some pretty weird people themselves, I might add), I decided to role characters on the RP shards of Rift and have thoroughly enjoyed it, finding fellow players of a like temperament and maturity. I have avoided the PUGs of the past, fearing the potentially negative experience, as I had occasionally in WoW. The few times I have been involved in PUGs in Rift, however, have been pleasant, with sufficient communication and coordination to make it worthwhile.

Scary, rather than let your spirit get beat down by the rude or indifferent players around you, be friendly, courteous, and helpful when you can. Like Marshall Eriksen of How I Met Your Mother, you may be in New York City, but you can keep your friendly small-town values and make someone else's gaming experience a little better for having encountered you. Marshall has a sense of community, even when everyone around him does not.


  1. As someone who has lived most of her life in big cities, I've always just grown up knowing that that's just how the way things are. The bigger a community gets, the more indifferent the people will be.

    I don't want to sound cynical either, because I don't believe that the rude people we encounter are jerks all the time. People have bad days, and when they don't know you, there's no reason for them to invest in kindness when in the back of their minds they know there's little chance of seeing you ever again. Versus in a small community, being amiable will get you much farther ahead, especially if you know you'll see each other again on a regular basis, or run the risk of knowing that if you acted like a jerk, the other person knows all your friends and will tell everyone and your mother what a big asshole you were.

  2. I totally agree that big communities tend to be much more impersonal than small ones, online and off. However, it also varies a lot from one place to the next in my eperience. LoTRO has a remarkably good community for a game of it's size in my experience. Conversely Pittsburgh has a remarkably; let us say... impatient of fools, indecision, and strangers; community for a city of it's size.