Gordon has an interesting post today, where he talks about why immersion matters in an MMO. There’s a great quote from one of his readers on another post that he uses which I will throw in here for you people to lazy to click:

“…It is your sense of immersion in the game world that lets you believe that you’re killing things…That suspension of disbelief is what immersion brings, and when it ceases, you are just clicking buttons in a dark room while the sun shines outside.”

Larisa today pokes the irony stick with her WoW is dying post, but there are some interesting parts in there referring to Activisions bottom line and WoW subscription numbers. And that quote on Gordon’s blog made me sit back and think. I remembered when I started playing WoW. It could have been the most beautiful day in the history of the world, but I would have stayed inside because I was completely immersed in the content. Now it seems that Blizzard feels that the only way to keep us immersed is to give us shinies. But it is not just the rewards themselves but also the way in which you get them that counts in the long run. The content has been trivialised to such an extent that it has lost all meaning. This is what I wrote about the LFG system back in January:

“… The new LFG system is also killing the social aspect of the game. Leveling my mage on a new realm, I’m not meeting anyone. The only way to do an instance run with people on my own realm is to spam local chat channel. Which is useless, as everyone is using the LFG system. I don’t have a single person marked on my friends list from meeting running around. There is nobody running around at all, everyone is doing instance runs to level. If I pick up a quest that needs 2 or 3 players to do I just drop it immediately now. What’s the point? I’m never going to find anyone to help me with it.”

I think that this has held up. If running a 5 man means that you have to actively find some people yourself, utilising your social skills to bring your group together, and then journeying through the land to arrive at the instance entrance, then you have been immersed in the game, and your experience in the 5 man will be justly rewarded. You expended effort and you were rewarded with content. The shinies are a bonus.

As it stands now you simply click a button and wait. You do not know who the people are with you, so no immersion there. No social skills required either, which is why people behave so badly in these LFG groups. You are teleported directly to the instance with the only clue to where you might be as the loading screen. Sometimes I actually have a hard time figuring out where I am. The result once again is zero immersion. And the big consequence is that you run these heroics so often, (as a consequence of the LFG tool), that the content itself becomes completely trivialised. They have taken away the fun and immersion and social aspect in the game and replaced it with a grind for shinies.

I feel that the RealID system is somewhat ironic because with the LFG system you do not need to make friends in this game anymore. If it wasn’t for Gevlons projects, I don’t think I would have met many people in the game this year. One of the reasons that I dumped enchanting was that I honestly needed a new way of immersing myself in the game, and journeying around the world with my little mining pick has to an extent done that for me. But the sun is shining today, I have a few things to do, and perhaps this evening a few of my friends will drop around and we’ll sit on the balcony and drink a glass of prosecco and gaze over the mountains, and I’ll put off once again the desire to retreat inside by myself and push some buttons in the dark.