Are you an entitled player?

entitlement3If nothing else, my ArcheAge post from last week showed that there are definitely passionate feelings on both sides of the pro-PvE server/anti-PvE server discussion.  Not being as intimately familiar with the game as some folks, I learned a bit about the makeup of the game and how, indeed, a PvE server might not be feasible even if Trion wanted it to be.  But my wish remains: that I’d love to experience this particular sandbox MMO — as it looks pretty nifty in so many areas — but not in a PvP setting.

Anyway, one of the comments on that post used (and then retracted) the word “entitlement,” which is a label that seems to be applied often and liberally these days in (but certainly not exclusive to) the MMO scene.  The misapplication of entitlement bugs me a bit because it feels like a cheap shot to shut someone down who disagrees with you on a way that an MMO should be run/structured/added on to.  Kind of like how we over-plaster “hipster” on folks and trends that we don’t like, whether or not they’re actually connected to the hipster movement.

The word “entitlement” has so many negative connotations associated with it that getting slapped with it is going to stink up your reputation something fierce.  And I have no doubt that some gamers act as if they’re entitled to everything, at the center of their own narcissistic universe… but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s like this, even if they want something about an MMO to change.

Entitlement means that you have a right to something by virtue of who you are or what you have done.  I paid the cashier at McDonald’s a dollar, I am entitled to a sodium-laden cheeseburger.  Another definition — and this is the one that’s probably used in MMO arguments — is “the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges).”  The word “arrogant” should probably be attached to “entitlement” here in many instances.  In larger society, entitlement is seen as people demanding things now just because they want them so very badly, but not as a result of any time, effort, money, or resources spent to earn or deserve them.

So the following is how I see what entitlement is and is not when it comes to being part of the MMO community — and please let me know if this jives with how you see it or if I’m off-base here.  I’m geniunely curious.

  • Entitlement is when you feel a game should change for you personally.  Entitlement is not when you have a desire to see a game change in some way, but stop short of demanding (or throwing a tantrum) over it.
  • You are entitled when you see game development as something that services you first and foremost.  You are not entitled when you understand that you are part of a community and can fathom why devs will be making features that are (in their eyes) for the best of the game and the larger community even if they’re not up your alley.
  • If I pay for a game service, I am entitled to what the studio has promised for that payment (access to the game, delivery of an item purchased, etc.).  If I’m playing but not paying, then my claim on even those factors is skimpy at best.
  • I’m entitled to get whatever’s coming to me within the established rules of the game for the actions that I take.  I have no grounds for entitlement when I want advancement/virtual goods in exchange for no effort on my part, just because I see others — who have earned them — possessing them and I want a slice of cake too.
  • Since I’m agreeing to a studio’s EULA when I play its game, my “rights” are pretty much subject to whatever the studio has laid out in that electronic contract.  I may feel that I am entitled to be treated a certain way in the game, but what’s really motivating the studio to do anything is to avoid bad publicity and keep as many consumers using its product as possible.  It doesn’t HAVE to do anything it doesn’t want to unless there is an actual law that touches on some aspect of the service (a studio cannot use my account information for fraud, for example).

My general feeling of where the line lays with entitlement is whether or not you believe that a studio has to do something because you want it to.  I’ve yet to meet a person who is completely OK with everything an MMO has and does, and does not want to see anything changed, added, or taken away — but that is not necessarily entitlement.  We all have opinions, desires, and wish lists, and part of the fun of being an MMO player is sharing those and discussing them.

It’s when people become self-deluded, perhaps through a feedback loop of reading other forum posts confirming their desire, is when there’s a danger of moving over into arrogant entitlement.  It’s no longer a wish or something one lobbies for (on, say, a blog); it becomes a bold declaration that this HAS to happen, and how DARE the devs not make it so right away.  The “or else” is implied and is about as empty a threat as can be.  Or else what, you’ll just whinge some more?  Stop playing?  Create a (snort) internet petition?

However, the problem with carelessly slinging around “entitlement” is that it eventually makes a hypocrite of us all.  Sooner or later your expressed desire for change or a feature could get you labeled as entitled by someone who disagrees with you.

I’m not short on opinions, but there’s a difference between expressing those and demanding them.  I may not agree with the actions of a studio, I may not play a game or may leave because of those actions, and I may express disapproval with what happened, but I’m hopefully grown up enough to accept it, be happy for those who are getting what they desire, and eventually move on.

8 thoughts on “Are you an entitled player?

  1. Jeromai July 28, 2014 / 12:37 pm

    Entitlement to me is when some guy jumps into a Dry Top taxi expecting it to be immediately T5 so he can buy his recipes and then disappear again, without lifting a finger to help the zone along to that status.

    And then proceeds to complain to the party that it isn’t and how hard it is to find one map that is.

  2. Tanek July 28, 2014 / 12:59 pm

    On the one hand, I agree there is a difference between being an “entitled gamer” and either making a suggestion or expressing disappointment that something is not a certain way. That distinction is not made as often as it should be and I think there are probably people who avoid expressing their opinions on forums because of it.

    On the other hand, it could be said that the desire for PvE servers in a game that was not designed with them can toe the entitlement line in a few ways.

    Fist, there could be an implication that the effort of making PvE servers would pay off with more players and more revenue for the company. From one of the comments on the earlier post: “PvE servers would be a good way to expand the potential audience.” This is quite far from demanding PvE servers, but just the idea that the PvE crowd could be important enough to spend the extra time and money to split your playerbase could be near the line.

    Then there is the part that *may* actually cross the line. The general idea that all games should cater to all players is shot down often enough with statement like, “well, the game just isn’t for you. there are plenty of other things you can play.” Yet when we see a game we want to play and that game has aspects that would keep us away, it seems natural to fall into thinking like, “yes, but if they just changed this ONE thing I would play their game!” From some angles, that may fall afoul of your second criterion above.

    I have probably been guilty of the same thing. It is hard to look in at something that seems like it could be so much fun while standing outside the gates marked PvP. Or FPS. Or Jumping Puzzle. Sometimes, though, it really does come down to the game not being designed for some of us. That’s ok.

  3. Dahakha July 28, 2014 / 1:12 pm

    I think there were definitely elements of entitlement in your AA post. It was fine up until you started mocking the forum defenders trying to protect the core of the game. Consider that the game is fundamentally designed as a PvP-driven experience, in that many core activities are pretty damn boring without the danger of PvP. Now take those people asking Trion to devote time and money to redesigning and rebalancing the game simply so they can play without danger. Is that not entitlement, to lobby for PvE servers when the core of the game is a PvP ruleset? Are you not lobbying for a change that is based purely on your preferred playstyle – not a bug, not unbalanced skillsets, not a revamp that will make a certain system fairer or more interesting for all players, but a purely personal reason?

    The manner in which they defended PvP-only servers leaves a lot to be desired (of course, it’s the internet) but they had every reason to defend it so vigorously. When a developer brings a game out and says “this is our vision for the type of game we want to build”, and a subset of players starts lobbying them to change that vision quite drastically based on personal preferences, then that reeks of entitlement to me. It’s one thing to say you’re not interested in it because of a ruleset, but quite another to actively want it changed so that you can play it the way you want to.

  4. Wilhelm Arcturus July 28, 2014 / 1:15 pm

    I think it is fine to be able to articulate why you do not like something. I spend a lot of time on blog posts writing about things I do not like or why I do not play a particular game. That can be part of a process of self-discovery, when you explore what really matters. I am not ordering the Chinese Chicken Salad because it has Mandarin oranges in it and I am not playing ArcheAge because it is a PvP oriented Asian import.

    On the flip side, it would certainly be arrogance/entitlement for me to tell the chef how to make his Chinese Chicken Salad just because I do not happen to like Mandarin oranges or for me to start lobbying Trion about “fixing” ArcheAge because I have no interest in playing in the PvP environment they are planning. I’m just not the market for either and should probably just move on.

    There is a gray area in between though. Should I, never having run a restaurant and having no idea on the sales figures or internal industry trends, tell the chef that I think he would sell more Chinese Chicken salads if only he omitted the Mandarin Oranges? Do I make unsupported statements about better sales for ArcheAge if only they included a PvE server? Do I go into the heart of the beast, the ArcheAge forums and say this sort of thing to the community that is already invested in the PvP vision based on nothing but my own opinion? Do I declare the community “toxic” because some of them loudly disagree?

    Not sure where “entitled” and “arrogant” kick in on that front, but you did tee this up in an adversarial fashion with your post title. “We don’t serve your kind in here” might be a movie quote, but it also implies some unfair discrimination and sets you up as the victim in the face of a “toxic” community who won’t listen to your reasonable suggestion. You were never denied access to ArcheAge, you just didn’t want to play the game they are offering.

  5. Tyler F.M. Edwards July 28, 2014 / 2:07 pm

    “Entitled” is one of those words that’s so over-used as to have lost all meaning, and I stop taking anyone seriously when they bring it out in a debate. It’s an ad hominem that people use when they can’t or don’t want to provide a real argument.

    The debate over your Arche Age post is a good example of why “entitled” is a useless word to throw around. All that matters is whether or not a PvE server is a good idea for the game — I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion either way. Whether your desire for a PvE server comes from some over-inflated sense of entitlement or a more innocent motivation has no bearing whatsoever on the actual issue: Is a PvE server a good idea?

    It’s worse than “casual” and “hardcore.” It’s just a cheap shot that never adds anything meaningful to a discussion.

  6. Alysianah Mystic (@Alysianah) July 29, 2014 / 9:24 am

    Playing the game myself now for a little over a week, I’m not sure it makes sense without PVP. I liken it to CCP taking PVP out of EVE Online. It would be a game just not sure who would play it really.

  7. j3w3l August 2, 2014 / 3:56 am

    personally I think we all can, and probably do acta a certain times entitled. Part of being a gamer I guess and it seems more like human nature to ask for things to change to suit us more. I think the reason I did come out so strongly against that post is that with your position in MMO’s your opinion can and probably has changed certain things within the industry. You have a voice that reaches much further than the average gamer or even blogger and the impact of that can harm other peoples experiences. With great responsibility comes great power and all that.

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