I’ve spent the past few weeks chilling out at a nice hotel on Lombok, looking over the Balinese Sea. So no online gaming, which kind of sums up the year for me. Sure I’ve played a bunch of games, but MMOs haven’t been among them. I didn’t invest in either SWTOR or GW2 principally because I knew that their inherent flaws wouldn’t be enough to get me over the line. It’s a big deal for me to invest the time in an MMO now. I did play around in the City of Steam alpha, (Lombok didn’t allow me to get into the Beta), which was good fun. I’m not sure that I can see myself investing in it long term though. For me an MMO has to become like a big warm security blanket. You get home after a long day at work and you can plonk yourself in front of it and immerse yourself in what you know while hanging out with other gamers whose company you like.
That last part is kind of why MMOs have died for me this year. I don’t seem to meet gamers that I like any more. Or perhaps more accurately, I don’t make the effort to meet people online because too often they turn out to be internet jerks. Whether it be on forums, chat-boards, games or whatever, the internet is now populated with the type of person whose immediate response is hostile tinged with a burning desire to say the most cutting remark in the coolest way possible. The internet was originally seen as the way to open up the solitary world of video gaming to a broad audience, but nobody really took into account the rise of the lowest common denominator. The more ways we find to communicate the less real communicating actually seems to be going on. I find no resonance with people who feel the need to tweet aspects of their apparently fascinating lives at every available moment.
Where does this leave MMOs in 2013? I’m not too sure. I will continue to offer my occasional insight into the genre, but mostly I think my attention will continue to be held by single player games. I will continue to closely monitor the unfolding mess at Pathfinder Online. It is another interesting exercise in observing obvious mistakes being ignored by the weight of social pressure. Human beings never change.
My pledge for 2013 is to be a nicer person online. I hope you all have a safe one. Thanks for hanging out this year.