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Individualism and Collectivism in MMOs: Roundup

August 25, 2012

Dear Reader,

It was a very interesting and controversial week around our little blogosphere in regards to our shared topics.  I want to thank the original bloggers who agreed to this little experiment with me as well as all the others who participated after the fact, expanding on our ideas and continuing the conversations.  If I learned anything, it’s that I shouldn’t call D3 an MMO, but they don’t call me Stubborn for nothing. (;

Below is the round up of posts I found on our shared topic.  I’ve included a very short blurb about each so you can find the ones that speak most to you, though if you have the time I’d really recommend taking a look at each of them.  Every different blogger brings a wildly different and often opposite perception to the conversation.  I’d also encourage you to write your own, of course.  Finally, let me know if I’ve overlooked anyone, and I’ll happily read them and add them to the list.

The “original unspeakables” (to paraphrase Klep):

Apple Cider Mage writes on how to make your guild more collectivist.  I found this article particularly interesting as it seemed like a remedy to the very woes I frequently have complained about, without the two of us having preplanned such a topic in any way.  You can find her here:

Klepsacovic reviews some of WoW’s current and past options in regards to building a collectivist culture.  Looking at a guild’s reputation, LFD, and the vote to kick system, he draws several interesting conclusions about the balance between comfort and community.  His entry can be found here:

Shintar reviewed Star Wars’s design and found it to be relatively individualistic with a dash of collectivist thrown into the lore.  She looks at the story quests, grouping systems, and faction pride that Star Wars has inspired.  You can find her post here:

Rohan investigates collectivism in guild cultures, finding that the more hardcore a guild, the more likely they behave in a collectivist manner.  He also identifies what he believes to be the driving force behind individual’s willingness to submit to the will of the group: reciprocity.  You can find his response here:

Syl took her excitement about GW2 and channeled it into a post about how that game is trying to promote a more collectivist culture.  She reviews the games, like WoW, where “necessity bred cooperation” and discusses how GW2 has evolved beyond that idea.  Her blog can be found here:

The Conversation Expanders:

Tobold looks at the possibility of ever having a truly collectivist MMO.  He discusses this through the lens of world politics, EVE, and A Tale in the Desert, two non-standard “MMOs.”  His article can be found here:

Clockwork does an extensive review of Planetside and FFXI in terms of collectivism vs. individualism.  Having virtually no experience with either game, I was fascinated by his (or her?) findings.  He goes on to discuss WoW and how developers could make games more collectivist, coming to several unique conclusions.  His contribution can be found here:

Rimecat examines whether nor not the topic is even a fair one.  He wonders about the freedom factor: that we choose to play games, whereas we do not often get to make that choice within our own societies.  He comes to several conclusions about how limiting a truly collectivist game would be.  His post can be found here:

Liore takes a contrary view to Syl’s about GW2 and the “improvement” of collectivism.  She details how intent and obligation are crucial aspects to identifying individualism or collectivism, ending on a discussion about how our social obligations are precisely what builds a community.  You can find her blog here:

Spinks takes an intellectual look at our topic and focuses her attention on the importance of guilds, asking about their role as true organizations or simply chat channels.  She also examines WoW, labeling it “the game that can’t quite decide if it’s individualist or collectivist.”  Her article can be found here:

Azuriel writes about the importance of player personality in this debate, declaring that collectivism is something that players bring into the game, not part of the game’s design.  He (she?) makes several good points about how player perception greatly defines a game’s outcome for that player.  His (or her) blog can be found here:

Christopher “River” Cavelle lists three specific elements needed to make a games more collectivist, going into some detail on each.  His post can be found here:

Siha continues the conversation about GW2, discussing some problems she’s encountered with the game.  While her post isn’t fully about our topic, she ends discussing problems with grouping.  Her post can be found here:

Gevlon Goblinexplains that the main reason that games fail to be collectivist is that they fail to reward it in any way.  He suggests improved rewards for beating content difficult for your level, which would emphasize teamwork over solo level grinding.  His post can be found here: MMO “individualism”: lack of quadratics.

Doone writes an extensive review of collectivism and individualism, then focuses on sandbox games.  He then works on defining MMOs in general, adding a fourth requirement beyond the typical Massive, Multiplayer, and Online: Persistence (which, after a lengthy discussion here on the topic, I tend to agree with).  His post can be found here: On Individualism And Collectivism In MMOs.

So as you can see, we gathered a lot of different opinions one a variety of games.  I couldn’t be happier with the turnout, and of course, if you’ve noticed someone I’ve omitted, please let me know, and I’ll add them to the list.

I hope you enjoyed it!


Stubborn (and fulfilled)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Samus permalink
    August 25, 2012 2:28 pm

    Actually, one thing I don’t really see anyone talking about (Azuriel somewhat hints at this) is how much a game can really change how individualistic or collectivist a player is. No matter what game you put him in, Gevlon is still going to be Gevlon. And it seems reasonable to assume the other side as well, that a fairly collectivist player will still find collectivist ways to play, even if the game is incredibly individualistic.

    • August 29, 2012 2:24 pm

      That’s an excellent point, and one that I hope someone does decide to write on. I’m sure that WoW made me more individualistic when I was into hardcore raiding, but now I’m moving back to my more normal self. Perhaps you should bang out a post on that one? Might be the start of something grand!

  2. August 25, 2012 4:27 pm

    Thanks for organising this whole thing, Stubborn. I have to say that this was a topic that I wouldn’t have thought of writing about myself, but what is the blogosphere good for if not to broaden our horizons?

  3. theerivs permalink
    August 27, 2012 11:09 am

    Thanks Stubborn for the link love, and putting this together. It really made me think about the things I do in the virtual world.


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