Guild Wars 2: Playing together alone together

Over the last month or so of my time in Guild Wars 2, one thing I’ve really come to appreciate are the other players.  I love having them around.  By now, many have made the observation that ArenaNet did us a great favor by removing typical MMO constraints on mob tagging and resource gathering by allowing everyone to attack or harvest the same things without worrying that it would be stepping on someone else’s toes.   Now if another player shows up, I don’t shy away from them and silently curse that they’re culling my content; I give an inner cheer and naturally gravitate toward them.  Two, as they say, are better than one.

It’s starting to make me wonder if this is what Guild Wars 2′s legacy to MMOs will be, far above dynamic events and all the rest.  It’s the game that fiddled with the social pieces of the puzzle just right so that it clicked and opened the floodgates for people to simply have fun being together.  We’re auto-leveled down to match zones so we can hang out with lowbie friends without overpowering everything.  We have instant teleportation, so we can get to where our pals are.  And we are not hindered but encouraged to join forces whenever possible.

A lament I’ve often heard over the past few years from MMO vets of the early generation of titles is that people don’t talk to each other in game any more.  They say that with a sorrowful tone, recounting days when MMOs had such slow, gradual gameplay that they were often a colorful overlay for a chat window.  People talked more back then.  They bonded more.  Communities meant more.  Now?  Now it’s just a bunch of helter-skelter madmen running amok with no interest in any social connections.

Pardon me, but that’s a load of horse apples.

I’ll be fully willing to concede that there was something special and important about that early era of MMOs and how the limited gameplay or perhaps titles that focused more on roleplay tools encouraged gamers to bare their souls and form long-lasting connections.  But I’m not going to just bow to the notion that all is lost today, just because we’re under a different paradigm.

For one thing, we have a much broader and bigger crowd now than MMOs once did.  Smaller and more niche groups of players do tend to form very tight bonds, but sometimes there’s a danger of getting elitist and snobbish about it (i.e. “don’t let those unwashed heathens into our super-cool club!”).  Now MMO players are far more diverse in interests and play styles.

For another thing, the games have changed, how we play them has changed, and how other video games have evolved has changed.  New things are tried.  Some old things are forgotten.  Old is made new again.  Failed ideas are tweaked to become successful ones.  And there’s no reason that this doesn’t apply to socializing in MMOs.

You see, it’s a falsehood to say that if a social situation does not revolve around or end in spoken/written communication, it’s not socializing at all.  I’m not against talking or getting to know those I meet better, but it’s not the end goal of every encounter I have with others in a game.  Sometimes I just want to — and this might blow your mind — simply play alongside of others.  To feel the presence of their company.  To band together, as if on a sports team, to accomplish something greater or quicker.  To watch out for each other.  To make the world feel alive.

Guild Wars 2 reminds me of testimonies I heard from Journey.  Not the band, that game where you played as a silent, anonymous character who would sometimes pair up with other silent, anonymous characters.  People raved about how it made them feel connected to another person, even though there was a barrier of communication between them.  Perhaps it was that lack of direct spoken or written communication that put such an emphasis on other ways we interact, and how sometimes we just want the companionship of another person around, even if words are not spoken.

If you feel differently about this, then perhaps we might be able to meet in the middle to agree that no two people want the same out of socializing.  Some of us are way into socializing; some of us are anti-social to the point of monkhood.  Sometimes we want talk, and lots of it; sometimes we just want action, and others beside us pointing their guns or swords in the same direction we are. If you want to get super-deep into relationship building, well, there are guilds and people out there who are up for that.  If you don’t, you’re not forced to.  You have a choice instead of just one path.

After all, when I play laser tag or work on a group project, I’m not always looking to have a drawn-out conversation about one’s aspirations in life.  The most you’re going to get from either side are terse yells, the occasional taunts, and deep concentration for the game.  Yet we’re doing something together instead of alone, it bonds us together, and that’s why I love MMOs.

I feel like I’m in good company in Guild Wars 2.  The game doesn’t force us to band together (which was a mistake early MMO developers made in trying to “encourage” socialization), but gives us incentive and easy ways to work together (combos, group events) and protect each other (heals, rezzes) without having the game penalize us for it.  I don’t have to spend time yelling in a chat channel for a group or fiddling with a group finder tool; I can just get out there and be with people.

Who knows — we may even talk while doing it.

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42 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2: Playing together alone together

  1. With my new-found interest in the “Like” function spurred by comments over at TAGN yesterday, I have “Liked” this!

    Mrs Bhagpuss was saying only yesterday that she thought the most lasting influence of GW2 might be an improvement in manners within MMOs. The removal of the irritating minor aspects of competition like racing for nodes or mob tagging coupled with positive behavior reinforcement by giving rewards for doing good things like rezzing strangers changes the whole atmosphere for the better. I’d hope that MMO developers attempting to make mass-market games in the future would see these as structural givens.

    Plenty of room for more niche MMOs to encourage backbiting, betrayal and feral competition. Nothing at all wrong with a bit of that between consenting adults. For a general audience, though, niceness is nice.

  2. I’m going to have to disagree with you here, Syp.

    From the very beginning, I’ve always felt that Guild Wars 2 set up a model where players playing “along side” each other, but not “with” each other, and that has held true through release. It’s the primary reason I stopped playing the game.

    My problem isn’t with shared mob tagging or those kinds of things – perhaps they do have a place in the genre going forward – but rather that there’s no purpose, benefit or mechanics that emerge when you group with other players.

    That’s not to say “you should have to group so you can share mob tags,” but rather it’s all of the other stuff GW2 is missing, such as class synergies. Think about buffs like “Battle Shout” in WoW (especially before it was raid-wide) in how that made group composition important and added a strategic element to it… it’s a layer of depth I consistently see missing from Guild Wars 2 combat. At minimum, a mechanical purpose to be in a group.

    Even if the combo fields and finishers derived greater benefit or interest from being executed among party members, that would be a step in the right direction.

    As it stands, grouping in GW2 simply gives you a blue dot on the map and a chat channel. That, to me, is nothing short of a travesty considering the unique selling point of the genre to deliver team gameplay (cooperative or competitive) like no other genre can.

  3. Just had this similar connection with a stranger the other day: A handful of players were trying to conquer a vista, and two of us somehow got ahead. Finally, we got close to the vista almost at once, killed the remaining guards, and activated the skill challenge. And then he said: “One last jump”.. and together we jumped to the vista point.
    It was epic.

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  5. Your Journey comparison rings false to me, because one of the points of the game was your inability to communicate with other people via written or spoken words. It was almost like a dare, telling people that they couldn’t talk or write, but would run into people. And hey, guess what, some people ran with that, as it was an advertised part of the experience.

    What you describe for Guild Wars 2 sounds very much like the concept of parallel play, with players interested in the same event but not really in each other. And certainly the feeling of life, of being amongst other people, is part of what draws us to MMOs. But it has been shown time and again that what makes us stay is the social bonds we form. People who stay subscribed for years at a stretch do so because the people they know are there. The lack of such social bonds causes us to flit from game to game.

    Now, of course, Anet isn’t charging a subscription, so their interest in social bonds and people hanging on for years after buying the box probably reflects that.

  6. Amen.

    It is so nice not to have to worry about mob tagging, node stealing or any other similar issue. In fact, I think I’ve never been happier seeing a complete stranger as when I fighting something that is proving harder than I could tackle on my own. A couple examples:

    There was a skill challenge that I knew from previous beta experience that was guarded by an annoying veteran spider. There was even a time when a guy skipped directly to the skill point while me an another player fought the spider, got the skill point then run off. When the game went live I was a bit wary of that skill challenge, fearing that kind of episode could repeat again. Instead the other player that showed up quietly helped to kill all the spiders in the way, including the veteran one. We did the skill challenge, got our points and then I proceeded to harvest some mushrooms (or was it mining? I don’t remember right now). The other player could have run off then to take care of her own stuff but she decided to hang around a bit more. Then once the spiders started respawning we killed them to make our way out of the cave. When we exited she bowed to me and I bowed back in a sign of thanks.

    A similar episode was when I was in the entrance of a cave full of ettins with a skill challenge inside. I hate fighting ettins in groups since they keep constantly knocking me down. Another player was hanging just outside the entrance too so both of us went in silently together, killing ettin after ettin. We got our skill point then headed out just as quietly. I felt this time I was going to do something different and thanked him in chat for helping me out. To which he laughed then pointed out I helped him as much as he helped me. He was right but I still think it wasn’t something he necessarily had to do.

    Then there was last night. Some guildies were starting to form a group for a dungeon when I had just started a skill challenge (for some reason those always stick to me!). It was a tough one that ended with me dead. Then another player just showed up and immediately tried to resurrect me even though skill challenge mobs were attacking him. I said my thanks and told it was better that he saved himself instead. He just stubbornly refused. Unfortunately when I resurrected I couldn’t help much then the both of us died. By then I had to teleport to the dungeon location as my guildies were waiting. Still I feel bad for the guy and wish I could have gone back to help him out at least to get that skill point. I hope he got it though!

  7. I couldn’t disagree more, I’m afraid. I like being social because I find people interesting, and that means the good and the bad because that’s humanity! I played a bit of Pandaria over the weekend and some person ran up and tagged my quest mob after I cleared the way to it. Argh, right? Then another player whispered me to say that they saw it happen and it was quite rude, and they would help me reclear again. We played together for 15 minutes or so, and I added a new friend to my list.

    That would never of happened in GW2 because there is no option for people to work against the common good. I find that terribly boring. They may as well be NPC bots, programmed to assist me. It’s like saying that walking down the street in a Grand Theft Auto game is “social”.

    When I hit level 50 in Vanilla WoW, I had a lively and active list of in-game friends that I met along the way. When I played Guild Wars 2, no one talked to me and I didn’t talk to anyone. Ever. At any point. I’ve asked all my guildies who kept playing, and not a SINGLE one of them said they made any new in-game friends while levelling to 90. Why? Because there’s no need to interact.

    I mean hey, that’s great that you just want to “simply play beside others”, but calling that a particularly social experience seems like really poor labelling.

  8. @ Liore: Hmm. I really don’t see your example the same way you do.

    You had another player do something rude to you; that’s unfortunately common in many MMOs. A second player who was nearby noticed the rudeness and sent you a tell, which led to a friendship; that’s incredibly rare overall, and is a terribly misleading example of how socializing works in most MMOs. Your assumption is that the antisocial nature of the overall game experience somehow encourages positive social interactions. I simply haven’t seen this to be true, though your mileage may of course vary. To me, it seems far more likely that polite and prosocial people can be found in most games. That same polite and prosocial player could have befriended you without needing the negative experience to trigger things.

    The issue, then, isn’t whether nice people exist, with whom one can make friends. The issue is, simply, how well does the game support prosocial behaviour overall? And in this regard, GW2 is miles ahead of every other MMO. It’s incredibly common to find oneself working alongside others in GW2, cooperating on goals; indeed, until you play GW2, it’s hard to appreciate how very different it feels in this regard than other MMOs, where players are always in competition.

    Put another way, which situation best supports meeting people and making friends?
    * A game where other players are your competition, where your best success involves avoiding other players as much as possible, or
    * A game where other players don’t compete with you in any regard, where your best success involves being around other players?

  9. @Lethality

    It may just be different styles of play, but the only time I have ever felt the need to actually form a party with someone (outside dungeon runs, that is) has been to get exactly the things you mention. Party chat and/or map location. In that respect it works perfectly for me.

    I think what Syp is getting at here is the ability to “group” with other players without forming parties. GW2 is probably the only MMO I’ve played where I leave the Say channel visible. It has more ‘hello’s, ‘thank you’s, and other polite local chatter than I’ve seen before. So far, I have had a great experience with people out in the world.

    You already mention class combos and how anyone can benefit from them, partied or not. So I guess my question is, what are we actually losing by not needing to group with random folk out in the world when we are already able to communicate, help each other, and just play together? I think if you had to group into a party to get some *extra* benefit it would actually end up taking away from the experience because then some people would feel they are obliged to either party or be weaker than they should be.

  10. @foolsage – There are players working along side each other all over the place in GW2, but not out of interest to do so, simply out of presence. They may as well be faceless NPCs standing with you fighting… no difference.

    You’re talking about prosocial behavior, but ironically the only type of player it’s helping is the anti-social player – someone who would prefer to play alone at all costs, and can do so while hiding in plain sight.

    It completely deteriorates the fabric of what an MMO is about – and the possibilities of the genre.

  11. @Tanek – You hit the nail on the head! You never felt the need to group up; and that is the essence of what I’m saying. There’s no mechanical benefit or additional interest available from grouping up with someone. The kind of class synergies and dynamics you can have make things interesting.

    And I’m not saying it should even offer any “benefits” necessarily… not more XP, not more power… but certainly something interesting that relies on the existence of the group. In GW2 the problem with combos is that no one is already talking to each other, so to try and coordinate their use is an exercise in futility. Stacked on top of that is the awkward “boon and condition” system with very minute time scale and often random effects, it makes the combos not worth the effort.

    So, I’d like to see a “group” mean something… give players a reason of sorts to band together if all of the other reasons are taken away.

  12. @Lethality
    “You’re talking about prosocial behavior, but ironically the only type of player it’s helping is the anti-social player – someone who would prefer to play alone at all costs, and can do so while hiding in plain sight.”

    If someone would prefer to play alone at all costs, then why exclude that person from the game? In GW2, the extremely anti-social person might be able to play alongside others just as you say and I think that is a good thing. In other games, this would either be someone labeled as a griefer, or someone who would not be playing at all. You gain nothing that way.

    People who are more inclined to be social can do so in GW2. Again, experiences may be different, but I have seen great cooperation out in the zones. Sure, we are not swapping life stories, but truthfully I have not seen that in other games either.

    What is this “fabric of what an MMO is about” that is being destroyed?

  13. @Lethality
    “There’s no mechanical benefit or additional interest available from grouping up with someone.”

    Why does there need to be?

  14. @Tanek – I agree, there’s nothing wrong with getting that person out there and playing the game. It IS a good thing. But there’s been nothing given to the players who embrace the idea of grouping and playing truly *together* – it’s all a faceless march through what is a beautiful world.

    And that’s what I mean by “fabric” – the idea that MMOs offer a potential experience that’s different than anything else… if there aren’t mechanics in place to take advantage of that, then it’s doing a disservice to progress, the opposite of what Syp mentions.

  15. Can you like or not, but I am sure the GW2 “group” model will be cloned by any MMO from now. And that show how much sucess is that model…

    By the way, just for the fun of “trolling”, how are going MoP salles?

  16. @Tanek – “Why does there need to be?”

    Because that’s what can make these games interesting and deep; a layer ON TOP of the pew-pew (which EVERY game and genre gives you.) As an MMO developer, ArenaNet not embracing the group mechanic is a huge step back in my opinion.

  17. I think the logic behind “playing along side each other without speaking is still social” would necessarily lead to claiming that your daily commute is a social activity because of traffic. I mean, after all, you’re all going in the same direction for approximately the same reasons.

    But I think we all agree that such isn’t social. I don’t think anyone but a hermit could go months on end without talking or interacting with other human beings at all except by driving at traffic times.

  18. I couldn’t agree more. :) I’ve been talking about all the social potential in GW2 for a while and your post here is a spiritual twin to some of what I’ve written in the past. there are so many glorified misconception about wow’s grouping model for instance, it takes several WoTs just to unpack what players have taken for the norm.

    the thing with cooperation and community in all MMOs is though that you need to give a game a real chance and a bit of time. whoever hasn’t even leveled a char in GW2 post launch for a couple of days or weeks, shouldn’t make conclusions based on beta impressions or “two hours during launch day”. people don’t behave their average way so early on into a fresh MMO.
    making judgements based on that is premature, uninformed and bespeaks bias more than anything else. I am so bored of that :)

    play GW2 for some longer time and actually act like “you mean it” – then we can talk again. community is a mirror of yourself and what you are willing to put into has a chance of resounding back at you. if you put in nothing, don’t expect anything. I did not meet my friends or guildmates in WoW in the first week.

  19. @Lethality
    “Because that’s what can make these games interesting and deep; a layer ON TOP of the pew-pew”

    I may be misunderstanding what you want. If it isn’t more game benefits like exp or power, and it isn’t what we already have like chat channels or a shared map, what would be an example of a grouping “synergy” that you would like to see?

    From my perspective, we have all we need. You can still play the way you want to play and can meet up with others who share the same philosophy. It sounds like you are asking for something that would make people who don’t want to play that way conform to a different style.

  20. In playing GW2, I’ve noticed a very curious emotional reaction in my own behavior. If I see someone fighting, I’ll help. If I see someone down, I’ll try to rez. If I’m killed myself, I go to the map and start looking for the closest teleport point.

    But if I see that message, “A noble soul has started to raise you!” (or whatever the wording is), I hurry to pick a respawn point FARTHER AWAY – sometimes in a different zone. It doesn’t really matter where – just so long as I get out before anyone raises me.

    I haven’t yet been able to analyze why I react like this. I feel awkward and embarrassed when someone stops their own play to help me up.

  21. @Stormwaltz
    “when someone stops their own play to help me up”

    I’m not sure I can help you determine why you react that way, but as a starting point, maybe try to change the way you perceive the situation. The other player is not stopping their own play. Helping others can be part of the game, so in that respect, helping you is enhancing that other player’s experience, not taking away from it.

  22. @ Lethality: You said, “There are players working along side each other all over the place in GW2, but not out of interest to do so, simply out of presence. They may as well be faceless NPCs standing with you fighting… no difference.”

    You’re making some invalid assumptions there.

    First, why do you assume that people are working alongside each other without having any interest in doing so? I can assure you that this isn’t true for me, and by extension we can dismiss your general assumption that it’s true for everyone. I enjoy working alongside others in GW2; I often seek others out because it’s a game that benefits from having others around. It’s just more fun for me.

    Second, you assume that working alongside other players feels like working alongside faceless NPCs; that these other players are basically just tools to be used. Again, from my own experience, I can assure you that this isn’t remotely true. To me, those avatars represent people, making their own choices for their own reasons. If one of them comes over to res me when I’m downed, or joins in to help me kill something… that’s absolutely social behaviour, and it has meaning. In the same sense, I often help others, and that’s not the action of some faceless NPC, but a real choice made by a real person, resulting in social interaction, however limited.

  23. @ saucelah: You said, “I think the logic behind “playing along side each other without speaking is still social” would necessarily lead to claiming that your daily commute is a social activity because of traffic. I mean, after all, you’re all going in the same direction for approximately the same reasons.”

    That’s an interesting analogy. It’s not a great fit though for the behaviour we’re discussing, because people driving cars aren’t free to work together in any meaningful sense. Driving isn’t really a cooperative task, except insofar as it’s desirable for everyone to stay out of everyone else’s way. In a sense, driving is a better model for traditional MMOs, where monsters and resources aren’t shared. The best case scenario for these games, as for driving, would be to have the road more or less to yourself. The analogy fails when we come to consider GW2 though, because in that game, it’s desirable to have others around you as often as possible; in your analogy this just leads to more traffic, which is never a good thing.

  24. I’m frankly amazed at the dissenting opinions in the commentary. I guess it boils down to “you only see what you’re looking for.” I find that not worrying about competing for resource nodes or quest mobs is far more relaxing than worrying about some ignorant or malicious person coming to steal the item I have spent time and effort to reach. At the same time I have no problem rezzing or being rezzed, an extra benefit since everyone can do it, no matter their profession. How is that not social. Also my group buffs (when I have some) benefit everyone in range not just my party members. How is that not a social benefit? These player avatars are not mindless drones. They are people I can help or receive help from. How is that not social? If you don’t speak, that is you. Most people I have “played alongside” through a tough area are quick with a thank you or even a suggestion to take on another challenge nearby. With no need to form a group, we just go do it, then part with cheers. How is that not social? I have my guild for social events and chit-chat. Much as Syp said, I don’t need to have a deep philosophical conversation with someone as we kill spider. GW2 is a very social game, precisely because I am never *forced* to group with anyone for other than social reasons.

    I did a trial for WoW this past Saturday, ran through the Pandaren starting area. It only served to remind me how much MMOs HAVE evolved since 2004. I’m spoiled by all sorts of little things from SWTOR, TSW, and GW2.

  25. I can only echo what I posted a while back at Syl’s place. When I’m forced to group up, I’ll do so grudgingly, if at all, and I’ll only be using the other players as means to an end. When grouping is optional and easy, I’m far more likely to do so, and I’ll have a lot more fun with it.

    When I choose to do something of my own volition, it makes a world of difference in how I interact with others and my attitude.

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  27. And besides, who says we’re not grouped just because our portraits aren’t on the left side of each other’s screens? If we’re working toward the same goal, buffing and healing each other, reaping the benefits of a kill or a Dynamic Event, I’d say we’re grouped just as much as any PUG, and without the heartburn.

  28. I tend to disagree, as many, on the “with” others, and join the “alongside” choir.
    When you play with others, you move together, act together, wait for the late, decide where to go together (and chat, a lot when you’re on a vocal).
    When you play alongside others, you don’t depend on anyone, arrive when you want and leave when you’re done.That’s a much more egoistic way of playing.

    Of course, it’s smoother and easier to play his way (and you could even meet people this way), but you don’t really socialize (frankly, when in an event, do people even look at the other characters’ name? I must admit I don’t). On the other hand, when you have to group, you get to know people, as the more rigid structure pushs you towards communication.

    And as far as I’m concerned, I’m much more happy with “savage” grouping to complete a quest together than with this “alongside” feature thatalways make me feel guilty when I leave the (non-existant) group…

  29. I have to say I find the GW2 experience at least as sociable as a typical session in other MMOs. For the life of me, I can’t see why a bunch of people coming together spontaneously to deal with a dynamic event is any less social than a random dungeon finder run where nobody speaks except to say “FFS noob” before ragequitting.

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  31. There is one thing that I find intriguing because it absolutely puzzles me.

    You have, in arguments like this, a number of people who proclaim how incredibly social they are, how they love being social, how, to them, being social is the whole purpose of the game.

    And then they go around and say that when they played Guild Wars 2 they didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t make any new friends, and considered all the other players around them as nothing more than NPCs. They go on to say how they’re pretty much only social when they’re forced to work together with others.

    I’m sorry, but if you’re really that social, if that really is the core of why you play MMOs, then you’re social regardless of the actual game mechanics. At least be honest and admit that you’re not that social and need the help to be forced to be (as I know I often do).

    And for that Guild Wars 2 has Dungeons (where you get all the forced grouping and required socializing you want, right down to needing to work together).

    Beyond that I do strongly feel that Guild Wars 2 creates a much more social atmosphere than other MMOs because it creates a much more cooperative and friendly environment where every other player is portrayed as a potential friend instead of potential competition, encouraging socializing. And encouraging, to my mind, is always better than forcing someone.

    “When you play with others, you move together, act together, wait for the late, decide where to go together”

    I have done all that and more in Guild Wars 2, all without being in the same ‘party’ with those others. In Guild Wars 2 socializing is much more organic where in other games, to me, it often feels artificial.

  32. Just last night, my lovely bride and I were attempting to reach the Breached Wall Vista and Skill Point. There were several people who helped out a lot encouraging us, helpfully showing the way, and fighting together to get through the jumping puzzle; and yes, we used chat/say. Another player with a funny name fought alongside us in a dynamic event. I complimented him on his cleverness, and he thanked me. Not long after launch, my guild was doing the Weyandt’s Revenge jumping puzzle in southern Lion’s Arch. A random player spent almost hour illuminating the pitch black cavern so stragglers from our group could get through. These are just a few examples of highly social behavior, not forced by the developer, but encouraged through the removal of competition over resources.

    Contrast that with my weekend experience in WoW, where I never saw another person talk, was constantly irritated by inconsiderate players taking resources or quest items as I fought right next to them, and forced to choose between old friends and new allies, by the DEVS.

  33. I’m playing both GW2 and WoW atm and I have to say that I *much* prefer Guild Wars way of ‘socialising’. I’m heartily sick of people in WoW running past mobs I’m fighting to get to a node or quest item. Players could do this in GW2 as well I know, but they don’t seem to. At least that hasn’t been my experience.

    I’ve had random players start following me (or me them) as we work towards something and I’ll often start a conversation in /say. Either ‘in character’ or normal chat depending on the response I get. I’ve had a ton of polite and fun conversations in GW2 so far. I’ve had NONE in Pandaland whatsoever.

    In GW2 people seem to go out of their way to rez a fallen ally, even while still being beaten upon by mobs – and I find I end up doing the same. If I see that little blue ‘fallen ally’ on my minimap then I’ll often head over to help just because I can, not because I need something from that area.

    Tl:dr, the community in GW2 has been a delight. WoW has been pretty horrific. I doubt I’ll be extending my sub.

  34. @Ayane

    All I can say is, I remember the names of the people I ran into and played with last night out in Pandaria. I do not have that same level of recollection in Tyria.

    For me, finding people, teaming up and adventuring is the right form of socialization in an MMO. In GW2, you have the finding people and adventuring, but the teaming up part is sorely missing. Events scale so it doesn’t matter if you’re there alone or not for the most part, and if there are people there, there’s no gameplay reason to work with them. They’ll be there killing the boss wether they’re in a party with you or not.

  35. @ Ayane: You wrote, “You have, in arguments like this, a number of people who proclaim how incredibly social they are, how they love being social, how, to them, being social is the whole purpose of the game.”

    Really? I don’t believe anyone in this discussion has claimed anything of the sort. That’s a strawman.

    Rather, what I’ve seen, and what I’ve posted myself (here and elsewhere) is that GW2 encourages prosocial activity, so it’s easy and common to find yourself working with other players quite often. And yes, it foments a social atmosphere.

    But that’s not the whole point of the game, for me. I’m also not bragging about how social I am, because honestly, that varies. I run with friends often, but I also solo a lot in MMOs. In most MMOs, whether soloing or running in a group, I find it’s most effective to find a place where other (non-grouped) players are not; I avoid players because they’re my competition for resources. In GW2, I actively seek out other players.

    And that’s a meaningful difference.

  36. @foolsage: Perhaps that was poor wording on my part and I should rephrase it to state that that’s the impression I get whenever the discussion of whether or not GW2 is social comes up. There always seem to be those proclaiming that GW2 isn’t social because it’s not forcing people to group together.

    Which to me always seems backwards because to me it never feels honestly social if it only exists because it is forced.

    That people leave with new friends in MMOs that do force a degree of socialization but not from a game like GW2 which leaves the socializing more organic, to me, comes more down to a ‘fault’ in the player and not in the game. I certainly know that I’ve made friends in other MMOs, but that was rarely if ever due to being forced to group together and always because I chose to socialize (either by choosing to join a guild or just by interacting with people I came across). Guild Wars 2 makes that just so much more natural.

    In the end different people like different things and find different things in games important. And that is perfectly fine. Thank goodness that we don’t all like the same things. But I do think that it is disingenuous to claim that GW2 isn’t a social game based purely on one’s lack of socializing when not forced into it.

  37. Pingback: Entry Level Social Interactions « Harbinger Zero

  38. I have to say that the most confusing comment to me has got to be the one from Tesh above, where he claims about being forced to group. GW2 effectively forces you to group, as everybody is essentially in the same cooperative melee. Does that mean he likes GW2 or dislikes it?

  39. Yes, I’m talking about formal grouping systems, the old “LFTank” nonsense. I’m a fan of the “let’s just adventure” method, and if that means playing with others who happen to be in the area, and the only barrier to cooperation is just being in the same space… that’s a good thing. I’m looking forward to playing with others in GW2.

  40. Pingback: Closed Fist, Open Hand « Tish Tosh Tesh

  41. Pingback: Social Nicieties and Missed Opportunities « Healing the masses

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