A long while back, I posted an article called “Seeing Through the System,” in which I talked about how after a while, anything cool and new has the tendency to become old, stale and routine — even MMOs:
“They’ve seen through the system to the base elements of the game, the mix/maxing of stats, the nitty gritty theorycrafting, the best path to power level, the enormous wealth of information they’ve absorbed and memorized until there’s nothing new under that game’s sun. For them to go from that game and into another one, expecting a repeat performance, is almost laughable. They’ve gone too far, and they’ll have a lot less time to enjoy the new, wide-open, magical feeling of a game before they fall back into the stat-crunching tactics of the previous one.”
Today, Wolfshead wrote a post about “Chasing the Virtual Dragon and the Search for Wonder” in which he expresses frustration that that sense of wonder has left — and he would love to recapture it:
“Reading O’Brien’s take on Tolkien makes me feel that perhaps it’s not so bad after all to want to experience a sense of awe and wonder. Could this inherent human longing be a divine gift? Has God instilled in us this supernatural yearning for heaven? Why aren’t virtual worlds doing more to tap into this innate human need to experience wonder? Could it be that fantasy virtual worlds have failed to realize their fullest, deepest and even cosmic potential?”
For him, the failure is on the part of the game designers. For me, it’s on the part of the gamer. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, as usual, but the problem for people afflicted with this depressing viewpoint remains: You want to reclaim the wonder, fun, adventure and sense of newness that you used to have in MMOs, but can’t figure out how to do it.
Do we wait for developers to finally figure out some magical formula or create such a revolutionary game that it kick-starts our imaginations again? Or should we be more pro-active about it and take steps in our gaming habits and mentality to work our way back to where we used to be?
One of these I cannot do; the other I can. I like to think that I still feel a sense of wonder and adventure when I play MMOs, because I certainly don’t feel jaded or cynical about them. I’ve seen players engage in so-called “immersion projects” to help them pull away from the numbers game and re-engage with the world of the game.
What do you think about this? Can we ever go back again? Are we asking far too much on behalf of the developers to bear the burden of installing wonder when we’re not willing to do our part?