I v C Follow Up – Responses and Thoughts
I’m very happy how the shared topic that I and several other bloggers took up has taken off a bit and begun to spread. I’m planning a round-up later in the week of everyone I can find on topic, but please point them out to me here or via email if you think you’ve found one I might have missed (which is to say, not in my blogroll and does not link to me, which is how I can track back to see who’s joined in).
I’ve gotten a lot of corrective comments, and I wanted to take to the time to address those. Some of them I agree with, some I disagree with, and some I simply can’t comment on from a lack of knowledge.
First, several people have suggested to me that EVE is in fact a collectivist game, not an individualistic one. That may well be true. I only know of EVE from Gevlon’s blog and a handful of posts by Rohan, so it may be that my source material is biased towards making it seem individualistic. I really should have considered my source before I opened up with that, or, even better, should have just left EVE alone since I’ve never actually played it. Thanks to everyone who pointed that out to me.
Secondly, I’m getting some flak, particularly on Reddit, about D3 not even being an MMO and not being designed with collectivism in mind regardless. I disagree on both points. First, simply breaking MMORPG down clearly indicates that it is an MMO. It’s nonstandard, but so is Vindictus, another MMO about which I don’t think anyone would argue with the label. By definition, an MMORPG must be massive, multiplayer, and online, and you must play the role of a character. D3 clearly does all those things; that, alone, should define it as an MMO. If we look at the “four pillars,” again, it fits. There is character progression, exploration, combat, and story. I’m not sure why people resist thinking that it’s an MMO, but that’s how and why I define it as such. If you take issue, please let me know why, and I’d be happy to discuss it. Don’t bury your comments on another site I only checked on a whim since I saw a lot of incoming links from it; come here and let’s have a conversation! I’m always open to discussion.
As for whether’s it’s collectivist or individualistic, my impressions of the game up to level 60 – at which point I thankfully stopped – were heavily collectivist. It downplayed competition amongst the group by giving individual loot. It made grouping very easy, and the difficulty level increased a reasonable amount (by the time I got to later portions of the game, which was after a patch to correct earlier issues). I found it MUCH easier to play in my group that to play solo. Additionally, certain abilities and runes were group-based, making helping one another easier. One comment suggested that grouping was more like “playing solo together.” I can’t disagree more; if you attempted to “play solo” while in a party, either by moving away from your party or playing carelessly with the group, you were killed quickly. It may be that this commentator played to the end very quickly and was ahead of the patches that helped remedy some of the problems, but that actually verifies my point. The game has a collectivist design partly because the changes that were made were to increase collectivism, rewarding grouping rather than making mobs have too much hp or hit too hard. At any rate, that’s why I feel the way I feel. I always encourage comments, though, so I look forward to hearing some responses on that.
Guild Wars 2 has been brought up a lot, too. I haven’t played it in any form, though, and since I hopped into TSW, my buddy and I decided to wait on it. For that reason, I didn’t think it a good idea to discuss it, since I know next to nothing about it. Syl, though, has an excellent post discussing GW2 that I recommend to everyone (as I do all the other posts). See below for more.
Three very interesting points commentators made were about transient groups vs. permanent groups, eastern vs. western games, and about the developer’s attempts to build community. Imakulata brought up that many of the features of WoW that I label as “individualistic” are also to improve transient grouping, whereas the smaller late-game play styles I call collectivist are also more permanent. I think that’s an excellent point. Additionally, Ophelie pointed out my Western-centric choice of games and wondered whether the same is true for Eastern games. Lastly, ausj3w3l (I need a pronunciation key, I think) brought up the difference between the dev’s attempts to make a strong community and the players’ responses to those attempts. Lord knows the WoW community is what is due to the players, but the devs chipped in a bit, too. More and more, game communities are being developed before the games are even out; consider the Secret World’s Alternate Reality Game to get players interested before the game itself dropped. I think all three are excellent dimensions through which to explore this topic, but I know too little about them to do it myself. I highly encourage anyone who knows more about those to explore them and let me know! It would be a great addition to the conversation we’re having.
I’ll do a more detailed round up later in the week, but right now, here’s who I know has posted on Individualism and Collectivism. It’s just a list now, but for the round up I’ll make it more like an annotated bibliography. Please let me know if I’ve missed someone, and they’ll be added to the final round up.
I hope you enjoy!
Stubborn (and malleable or argumentative from moment to moment)