If 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.