So me and my friend put on our rose-tinted glass and was reminiscing about our MMO days of old. We were talking about Ragnarok Online until my friend popped out this question, ” So what made RO so good? If you really think about it RO, unlike other MMOs, doesn’t actually has quests or a main story. Meaning it’s open-ended where players can do anything they want. Most of us just…grind, grind and…grind, but yet RO is so addictive!” His question really had me there because he is right, most of my game time in RO is spent grinding but yet, RO is great for us.
Why is it so? Is it because of the rose-tinted glass we are wearing? *takes it off and throws it away* Is it because it’s our first online game, so it is memorable? Not really; because I know players who played MMOs before RO and they also admitted that RO is great. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is the first online game we played WITH our friends. We played a lot MMOs but this is probably the only MMO where MOST of our friends play as well, hence the fun. Which is probably true. Personally, I believed RO is a great game because it appeals to the masses, same goes to WoW. If you develop an MMO, you don’t solely target a specific audience, you will want to target a bigger crowd so that more will play your game, but who are this ‘masses’ and ‘crowds’ that I speak of? How do you target this ‘masses’ and how does this ‘masses’ determines the success of an MMO?
With much research I present to you, the psychology of the community that drives the MMO community. I will be making this into a series cause it will be too long to put into one single post. So do tune in, and without much further delay…
Before going too deep into the subject, let me first talk about Murray’s Theory on Psychogenic Needs so that you will understand my perspective. Personality based on needs are a reflection of behaviors controlled by needs. While our needs are ever-changing, some of them are more deeply embedded into our nature. Here is the list of needs as suggested by Murray, each person has different level of each need.
1. Ambition Needs
- Achievement: Success, accomplishment, and overcoming obstacles.
- Exhibition: Shocking or thrilling other people.
- Recognition: Displaying achievements and gaining social status.
2. Materialistic Needs
- Acquisition: Obtaining things.
- Construction: Creating things.
- Order: Making things neat and organized.
- Retention: Keeping things.
3. Power Needs
- Abasement: Confessing and apologizing.
- Autonomy: Independence and resistance.
- Aggression: Attacking or ridiculing others.
- Blame Avoidance: Following the rules and avoiding blame.
- Deference: Obeying and cooperating with others.
- Dominance: Controlling others.
4. Affection Needs
- Affiliation: Spending time with other people.
- Nurturance: Taking care of another person.
- Play: Having fun with others.
- Rejection: Rejecting other people.
- Succorance: Being helped or protected by others.
5. Information Needs
- Cognizance: Seeking knowledge and asking questions.
- Exposition: Education others.
With all these 5 needs in mind, we can kinda summarize it a little by asking ourselves “what makes an MMO good?”. What do we enjoy about them? Why do we play an MMO?
1. For Achievements
Some gamers takes the game very seriously and sets in-game goals (usually pretty hardcore goals) and vows to see it done no matter the cost. These players are the ones you see in-game solo-ing non solo-able bosses (lol) and those that do stupid things to get worthless achievement just for the sake of the achievements.
2. For Explorations
Discovery of new things are thrilling to many players. Discovering the world and finding secret spots that only you know about, or discovering a unique combo/rotation that nobody knows about. Going to places that people dare not venture and discovering a whole new world.
3. For Social Activities
Some people play MMOs to meet new people and sees the game as a social outlet to relax while playing the game.
4. For Imposition Upon Others
What to say but some of us just play the game to make live a living hell for other players lol.
If you noticed; things that people look forward to and enjoy in an MMO is also part of Murray’s psychogenic needs. With this you can split players into 4 sub-types, the achievers, explorers, socializers and killers. Interesting? So which one do you think you are? I will leave the suspense button on while you ponder of your own sub-type. The next part will be focusing on the sub-types. You will be surprised how negativity in games are needed to balance the community even though they provide bad experiences to other players.
Until then try to see which one you are and while you are at it, check out this interesting write-up on the death and end of friendships in MMOs nowadays. From what you’ve read here, you should be able to see some connections on why games needs to be designed carefully to fit all 4 sub-types. 😀