I know we always like to come off as perfect people, but I hope that I’m honest enough to share the not-so-great parts about me from time to time. And I’ll be honest in this: sometimes I just don’t want to help you out in game, because it does nothing for me.
Ack! How horrible is that? How selfish, self-centered… pretty much the opposite of everything I strive to be in my daily life. It’s almost as if I started drinking a tall glass of Ayn Rand in the morning or something. And really, in games I don’t tend to be like that either — if a friend asks for a helping hand, or if a stranger needs a tip or a quick assist on a mission, sure, I have no problem with that. Part of MMOs is being tied into the social scene, and you give as well as take.
But every once in a while, well, there comes a time that someone asks for help and my brain does a quick calculation — how much time will it take to do that? If they’re asking for a two-hour dungeon run, well, that is an askance worth pondering.
Because if MMOs have done anything well, they’ve taught us to be greedy little self-seekers — to be always striving to make our own character better and stronger and richer. There’s nothing for our character to be gained in helping out, usually, so that little voice nags at you in disapproval for “wasting” that time. Yes, it sounds awful, but I think a lot of us have this little internal drama playing out on occasion. The more we help others, the less we’re spending on progressing our own character — kind of pushing someone up while keeping us standing still. Sometimes we don’t have enough time to do both, and I’ve had evenings where I agree to assist someone only to have it turn into a lengthy slog through content (in which we don’t succeed, sometimes) that eats up all my playing time for that evening. It’s nice to help, sure, but I leave the keyboard feeling as if I haven’t accomplished anything, and that can be frustrating.
I rarely ever say “no” for a direct plea for help, but I’m not always as altruistic as others I know by logging on and instantly asking if someone needs a hand, because more often than not, there’s always someone who will gladly pounce on that offer and eat up whatever free time you had. It’s a struggle to deny the pull of the game, which rewards me for selfish behavior instead of selfless — why don’t more games have systems that encourage you to help others, especially if MMOs are these great social places?
No profound conclusion here, just a little insight into something that I’ve always felt. If you find me in game and honestly do need help, I won’t mind, nor will I resent you for it — I just wanted to be open that there are these opposing forces at play inside me.