MMORPG’s:Mixing It Up Baby, Yeah!

May 10, 2007

In my last piece I wrote in general about social interaction through MMORPG’s and why they make me “Squee” or get really excited. I thought that social interaction through MMORPG’s was a pretty basic thing to analyse but apparently it’s not. There are so many levels on which people interact and so many studies into this that I had to explore it a bit more. The title of this piece is “Mixing it up baby yeah!” and basically I aim to focus on MMORPG’s and the bringing together of people from so many different age groups, classes and backgrounds in a way that has never really been seen before. Also I want to look at how people create whole other personas in MMORPG’s that are completely contradictory to how they are in Real Life and if they learn anything from these characters that they create that they then apply to their actual lives.

…” MMOs are interesting social spaces in several ways. First of all, there are almost no other social spaces in the physical world where people from such different demographic backgrounds and life experiences collaborate on a regular basis.”… This is actually quite true if you think about it. Lets take World Of Warcraft for example. This game has a huge fan base and quite literally millions of people play, 8.5 Million people worldwide to be exact. These 8.5 million are all sorts of people, doctors, lawyers, teenagers, university students; and they span a huge age range and come from all over the world. As the first quote states, there is no place in the physical world where this happens on a regular basis. So in games like World of Warcraft you find that you have a teenager of 15 leading a group of adults in a raid and making all the decisions and generally being the boss. A situation that is very unlikely to happen in the real world. You see in our work and social situations we mostly interact with people of a similar age and in similar circumstances to ourselves. In MMORPG’s this is seldom the case. Hence the mixing it up.

I was thinking about the type of characters I make when I play MMORPGs. When I first started playing Ragnarok Online I wanted to be a dancer. To be a dancer you had to first be an Archer and get to Job level 50 then you could go to Job level 2 and become a dancer. I wanted to be a dancer simply because I thought it was the prettiest girl character in the game, which is fickle of me I know. But I always do that in MMORPGs. I am always a girl character and I always want her to be stunningly pretty. I know some guys who always make at least one girl character or only make girl characters; I’ve always wondered why they do it. I am always a girl because I guess I relate to girls more being one myself but it must be weird to play as the opposite sex. Even in Ragnarok Online you get treated differently if you’re a girl. I once, as my Dancer character, sat down in the Market and was given gold and many rare items by several male characters because my Dancer was hot. MMORPG’s are much like life it seems. So perhaps it’s quite enjoyable being a boy who plays as girl characters to have that power, even if it is just in the MMORPG world.

Do people make characters that are different to how they are in real life? You get a lot of users who are shy and introverted in real life having extroverted and friendly characters within games and have no insecurities. It’s recreating yourself. You can be any persona you want to be online, whilst in Real Life it’s harder to change who you are. It’s really amazing to read about the changes in people when they play MMO’s

”It also gave me a lot of confidence – after all, if you can lead a 60-person complex raid, how hard can it be to organize a team meeting? 🙂 This has led to me to take on more responsibility in the workplace and feel comfortable about handling it, as well as being far better able to deal with criticism or conflict (either as target or arbitrator).”

”I had to represent myself in court because I could not afford an attorney in a custody battle with my former spouse. He is quite aware that ordinarily I am a push-over in real life. In this situation I kept my pirate character in mind and imagined that I could stand my ground as I do in the sword fights in the game. I was able to represent myself calmly, clearly and effectively, and the final result was the judge did not award custody to my former spouse and his wife.”
(quotes from Through the Looking Glass

In reality I am a fairly easy going person (no really, I am.) and I don’t like fights and drama and I’m pretty ethical. I get annoyed when people are treated unfairly and always try and be the nicest person I can be. In MMORPG’s I seem to have bloodlust, it’s a real transformation. I go from being a “Make Love Not War” kinda girl to a “How many orcs do you think I can slay in 10 minutes? Take that you bitch” kinda girl. If we’re waiting around in the towns for people it’s always me complaining and saying “When can we kill? I want to kill!” I love it when I get an uber powerful weapon and can kill strong enemies in one shot. I think it’s fantastic and to be honest I have no idea why. I laugh when my friends die in MMORPG’s, which is another thing I don’t understand. I think it’s really funny when one gets clobbered by a giant flying Christmas present. Do MMORPG’s help us release the dark side we hide within? What dark sides of you come out when you play them?

In conclusion I feel that MMO’s aren’t just a fantasy escapism for you to lose yourself in, they are proper communities and bring people together in a totally new way. I think it’s great that people have exposure to people from different countries and cultures because that is the best way to learn about the world. We can’t all afford to travel around the world and do that and MMO’s offer a pretty good alternative that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. They make you think about who you are and what you’re doing and do help build character, though of course this isn’t the case all the time.
I think I’ve become quite fascinated in the theory behind MMO’s *laughs* Oh dear.



  1. I like mmo’s for the pretty clothes. 8]

  2. I think I like MMOs because I’m somewhat OCD. I dunno, like… grinding and all that shit doesn’t bother me, I find it exciting to see how fast I can get through challenges or how quickly I can reach the next level tier so I can equip ‘x awesome armor extreme’ or ‘super kickas sword of +5 badassery’ or whatever.

    I also do really enjoy the social interaction though, and tend to get into a game when I have some people I can relate to while playing. I find my interest quickly wanes if I’m the only person online much and I have no one to talk about how cool it was slaying such and such monster or completing x mission.

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