Posted in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Mainstream games outlets need to drop the condescension toward MMOs

Last Wednesday, VG247 posted an article about Star Wars: The Old Republic that really rubbed me the wrong way. Oh, on the surface, it looks like it’s a piece written in 2020 that’s praising a 10-year-old MMORPG, which is kind of a win for our community. But the way it was written was a perfect example of the dripping condescension and contempt that many mainstream games outlets view MMOs.

In short, these outlets — your Kotakus, your Polygons, your VG247s — are staffed with plenty of writers who like to act all snide toward MMOs if they ever write about them. It’s like they’ve been trying to establish a pecking order so that the geeks on top can feel better beating up on the geeks below. We experienced a lot of this back when I worked at old Massively, as our colleagues at Joystiq would hardly ever deign to give us the time of day or promote our pieces. We MMO fans were the weirdos.

So going back to this VG247 piece, I think it’s a perfect example of the type of opinion article that we get every now and then from these outlets. There’s a type of formula to them, where the piece starts out trashing MMOs in general:

“MMOs feel too much like a second job to me. They’re spreadsheets that you play at your PC, which is where I sit down to work all day. I don’t like the idea of stabbing 20 wolves to get +1 of some stat I don’t give a crap about.”

That’s the opening paragraph right there. But then this article (and similar pieces) goes on to reluctantly say that this particular game has something appealing about it, despite it being a filthy MMO. “Damning it with faint praise” is the term that comes to mind. Actually, the praise that it gets has nothing to do with the MMO format but that a player can experience it as a solo game story if he or she wishes.

Listen, not everyone has to like MMOs, even game journalists. But some of us do, and these journalists keep acting like we’re nuts while they’re over there, I don’t know, playing genuine works of art. Like they’re so much better and would NEVER care about stats, achievements, patches, persistence, upgrades, or whatever. Like they’ve never grinded a day in their life in their single-player titles.

It’s just silly. Video game genres are bleeding over into each other more and more as time goes on, and to vilify one is to have those insults boomerang back when you realize that you’re playing titles that have a lot in common.

So get off your high horse, VG247, and get over yourself already.

5 thoughts on “Mainstream games outlets need to drop the condescension toward MMOs

  1. I feel this so hardcore. Whenever I tell someone I’m a gamer and they ask what I play, I have to brace myself for disappointment or disdain. There’s a gaming podcast from a big outlet that I usually enjoy – and I won’t name them – but there was one episode that sticks out in my mind where they were discussing the fact that there weren’t any ESVI reveals at a big event, though there was some ESO stuff, and the podcaster went “Blah blah blah, MMO garbage.” I’ve never forgotten that.

  2. I keep expecting game journalists to get over this, but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s like none of them have tried a MMO since launch era EQ.

    A lot of MMOs play like single player RPGs that happen to be online these days. If you can have the gripping storylines of a single player RPG, combined the the persistence and immersion that comes from it being embedded in a world inhabited by other people, why would you play anything else?

  3. This doesn’t quite surprise me when you consider how much contempt some of these writers show toward games that are more than a few hours long, and then consider that an MMO is expected to be played over thousands of hours over the course of years.

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