Over the past year or so, I’ve been coming to terms with the revelation that I am an introvert to my very core. You’d think this would be something I’d have known since, say, high school when I’d lock myself in my room every afternoon and evening to read and play on the computer, but no. Ironically, most of the characters in the books I read were very extroverted, and as such, I must have convinced myself that these were qualities that I had too.
So I’d find myself doing activities that extroverts loved — going to parties, concerts, etc. — and just hating them. I couldn’t understand that on week-long mission trips why I’d go bonkers about four days into a nonstop social experience. I’d bought into the idea that introverts = antisocial losers, and I couldn’t let that be me.
Except that I am an introvert, with all that that entails. Part of the revelation I’ve had these past couple years is from reading essays from other introverts who have explained so well the nuances of this personality type. That we live in a world of extroverts, but trying to conform to the 75% or whatever of society who are like that is like hammering a square peg into a round hole. They explained that introverts do like social connections, can be leaders, and are often welcome members of any team. It’s just that we approach life a little differently.
A good quote from The Atlantic:
“Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say ‘Hell is other people at breakfast.’ Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.”
So now I know enough to give myself adequate alone time. I know that having quiet time is necessary to recharge my batteries for the bursts of time when I do need to be outgoing and social (which is, of course, a large part of ministry). And while sometimes I do really enjoy being around people, sometimes I don’t — and that includes part of my gaming experience.
It’s why the whole attitude of “You’re playing an MMO, and ‘multiplayer’ means you should group up and be social” irks me. I don’t see that as a mandate that must be followed; I see it as an option. One of the best aspects of MMOs is that they (should) give you options as to how you want to play that day. Options to progress, options to set goals, options to be as much or as little social as possible.
And while some extroverts and devs may be stymied by the stubborn reluctance of some players to group, there might just not be any magical key that’s going to unlock that. Make the rewards as great as you want and penalize soloing as much as you want, and players who want to “play alone together” will still find a way. Maybe some devs get it, but sometimes I get the feeling that the attitude is the same as a well-intentioned friend trying to pull you to a shindig that you know very well you’ll end up hating. “But it’s great!” they say. “That may be,” you reply, “but it won’t be for me.”
Another quote from the aforementioned article:
“Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion.”
That sounds so familiar, especially whenever people get into an online discussion of grouping vs. soloing, doesn’t it? Personally, I do understand WHY people like to group, raid, and PvP, but I don’t always see a lot of understanding by that crowd as to why I love to solo in peace.
I’m not even against parties or grouping, I just don’t ever want to feel like I have no other recourse but to partake, just because someone’s dragged/forced me to do so. Soloing PvE content is generally relaxing and recharging for my personality, whereas grouping and PvPing is not. Those are acceptable in short bursts, but it’s not what I thrive on when I play.
And I honestly don’t know how many introverts engage in MMOs vs. extroverts. I don’t know if the ratio is the same as in society or if it skews to favor one side or the other. I do know that some people who admit to being introverts are far more social online than they are in real life, so that party personality you’re talking with may not be as such if you met on the street.
In any case, every time I hear a dev gush about how some new system or twist will suddenly open the floodgates to grouping and pull in all those reluctant groupers, I wince. Maybe a new approach is called for, game design that considers not just playstyles, but extroverted and introverted personalities.