Lately, I’ve gotten back into playing Lord of the Rings Online, and, not all that surprising, I’ve noticed a distinct difference between the WoW and LotRO communities. On the WoW forums, you’re bound to find multiple posts detailing why exactly things are going to hell in a handbasket or complaining about the latest changes. The LotRO forums, however, are different. I’ve seen some posts complaining about different things, but on the LotRO forums, I don’t feel like I’m going to get judged for voicing my opinion, which, I have to say, is kind of nice.
However, there’s something that I’ve noticed in LotRO (both the forums and in-game) that has made me a bit uncomfortable. Now, I’d like to point out that the following behavior is in no way restricted to Lord of the Rings Online. However, this is where I first really noticed it and then began to see similar behavior elsewhere. And, quite frankly, it was a bit disturbing to me.
One night while in game, a new player had mentioned they had come to LotRO from “another game run by Blizzard”. Now, the fact that they would avoid mentioning the name of the game was a bit strange to me, but I didn’t question it. The only other MMO I had ever seen anyone mention up until that point had been Everquest, and that had been on the forums themselves. I could only assume that this person’s WoW experience had been so mind-blowingly horrible that they wanted to avoid mentioning the name of the game at all costs. (Not that I could understand how horrible their experience had been, mind; I’m still quite taken with WoW.) However, the conversation took a rather horrifying turn for me when the chat channels turned into nothing but a stream of how much WoW sucked (mixed with various other expletives that I won’t repeat, mostly because I can’t remember them). I had to log off. I couldn’t take it.
I had thought it was a one-time thing, but then I saw something similar the next night. And then it seemed like I kept seeing it everywhere I went! Rift came out and some people were going on about how superior it was to WoW! WoW players would go on about how it was superior to every other MMO under the sun! Some LotRO players will go on and on about how it’s superior to WoW! It’s like a never-ending cycle of attempting to bask in their own superiority and failing miserably.
The whole thing made me start to think, though. If you strip away the setting-specific things of every single MMORPG out there, you’re left with one main thing: they’re all MMOs. The setting doesn’t matter. The races and classes don’t really matter. They’re virtually the same thing. I may get skewered for saying so, but you know what? Its true. The core mechanics of every single MMO out there are pretty much the same thing. You quest for things, you turn in the quest to get rewards. You heal, you tank, you work together to take down some big bad enemy. You gain levels and new skills and abilities. You get some of the best-looking armor out there.
You guys see where I’m going with this?
At the end of the day, we’re all playing an MMO. Sometimes, we’re even playing for similar reasons. We may want to immerse ourselves in a fantasy world of some sort. We might just want to hang out with friends who play the same game. But the point is, we’re all playing something similar. So why all the hate? Why must there be this mentality of “our sandbox is better than your sandbox”? Why can’t we all just get along?
Maybe I’m some sort of hippie in that regard, but I honestly cannot see why the various MMO communities can’t just coexist peacefully, and, quite frankly, it upsets me. So, guys, please, can we put aside our hate and just share in our love of playing MMOs? At the end of the day, we’re not just Rifters or WoW players. We’re gamers. Why can’t we embrace that?