Love and Hate: MMORPG Community Chat

Each year, ESPN columnist Matthew Berry writes an article called ?love/hate?. In this article he gives opinions on why he loves and hates certain football players that year. This idea although simple, can be applied to the video game world; so that?s exactly what I did. This series aims to break down what we Love and Hate in the MMO gaming world; including aspects like a game?s economy, chat methods, leveling capabilities, and overall player interaction.

Last week I discussed player interaction in MMO gaming. One of the biggest points covered was how people treat their anonymity when chatting with others online. Lucky for gamers, many MMORPGs offer an easy function where you can block or blacklist another player from messaging you. It?s nice that personal measures can be taken to avoid annoyance, but what about when you can?t avoid poor words? There are clear benefits to love about having ability to talk openly in the vicinity of other players; but just as was the case last week with player interaction, there are also things to hate about having community chat.

Many MMORPGs offer a way for players to talk openly with characters in their vicinity. Instead of having to search through lists or hunt down a friend, people can say ?I need help!? and get it. This is a fantastic option for any game to offer because just like in real life, some people generally enjoy helping others. The nicest players and sometimes best of friends, tend to be the ones you meet when asking for assistance.

Open chat is also helpful because when you have a question, asking openly is more likely to draw someone wanting to prove they know answer. Players tend to take pride when showing knowledge of their respective games. People want to meet new and returning players who respect their knowledge and level of achievement in an MMORPG. There is obvious benefit in open communication in a massive world. I love how you can start meeting people in MMORPGs the way you can in real life, by walking up and just saying hello.

Some MMORPGs don?t shield innocent players from the rudeness of others though. Even with ability to block other players, sometimes damage can already be done. With such a variety of ages participating in MMO games nowadays, it?s very frequent that older gamers will say things in public chat that younger gamers should not be hearing. More importantly, these are comments these older gamers would likely never say in an open forum in real life. What happens when some jerk can?t stop using fowl language in the center of town, where tons of unsupervised children are first experiencing using their characters?

MMORPGs offer large virtual worlds and everyone obviously can?t be protected. Still, games should do what they can to restrict the amount of community messaging that gets processed from one individual. We all know what spam is, and it happens in MMORPGs too. Occasionally a game will allow players to continuously post ads for websites, but mostly games suffer from people who really just won?t stop talking. As mentioned, players are saved in most situations by being able to mute another character, preventing their text from appearing in chat. That shouldn?t mean players use vulgarity like it is nothing, or spam the same message over and over until being heard out.

It is just as bad when multiple people partake in what I call ?shut-up fights?. Rather than blocking each other and moving on, people spend time obstructing important game messages in community chat by yelling how incompetent each other is until one finally finds a reason to back down. It shouldn?t be every other player?s duty to blacklist two horribly annoying individuals. I hate when players spend more time verbally lashing out on others in busy locations rather than doing so in private or just playing the actual game.

What do you think about how community chat functions in MMO games? What games does it work in and what games need fixing? This is just the second of many topics to bring both happiness and pain to countless gamers. Check back with MMO ATK next week when I discuss what makes playing in massive environments such an amazing but often tiring experience.

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