Throughout this week I’ve been posting a bit about key concepts of MMOs which I think they’ve picked up from D&D. I think the last characteristic of MMOs is almost more influenced by the players themselves than with the game, but certain game elements can definitely either reinforce this or make it a minor aspect of play. Another key aspect of MMOs is social interaction and is something that helps define MMOs from single player video RPGs.
I am utterly convinced that while an engaging MMO, with lots of variety and interesting content, can keep a player’s interest for some time, it is the community and social interaction with others that helps keep that player in for the long term. Being able to explore and play an MMO with others can add to a player’s enjoyment. While the novelty of playing sections of a game can wear off, experiencing the same content with others can make for more rewarding play. It’s the witty banter, failures and triumphs, and in general sharing the experience with others that adds to the appeal.
Granted the importance of this characteristic is something I feel in flux with MMOs. While having a requirement to play much of the content with a group is not ideal, I also think having most content geared to the solo player is not a solid choice. Having a relationship with others in an MMO, whether being in a huge guild, or with a fellowship of 2 other people, keeps players into a game. That quality of social interaction holds an important role in maintaining a player’s interest. It is a slight balancing act to reinforce group play, while at the same time not sacrificing the experience of the lone player. However, a good MMO will foster player interaction.
So this last characteristic of MMOs might be a stretch saying it’s influenced by D&D. In reality, I think you could say just about the same for any game and the people that play them. Participating in the joint experience of a game and enjoying each other’s company, that makes for a fun game. I’m a firm believer you can have the most astounding RPG system at your fingertips, but with crappy people having a crappy time, the end result will be an unpleasant evening for most.
So yeah, it is a bit of a wash. For the sake of completeness I’ll bring up interaction. To claim that MMOs have taken this from D&D is a false statement. However I do think that both types of games get so much more out having a joint play experience with others. The enjoyment people have with adventure, exploration and character progression is muted in D&D when not sharing it with others around the same table. That key factor of social interaction is what makes D&D shine, something good MMOs can (and should) pick up on.