Archive for May 29th, 2007

Why most players do not like open PVP

There’s a discussion raging at mmorpg.com about whether there is a grim future for hardcore PVP in the MMORPG world. The original post was made by someone who is in favor of open or “free for all” PVP. There are quite a few flames but a few good posts. Finally someone asked one question that I thought I could answer, so I jumped in. I thought I would copy my post here, since it’s been a while since I did a blog entry… and I thought it was pretty good stuff. The quote I’m responding to is a partial quote from a longer post… check the original thread for the whole thing.

Originally posted by Steelarm011

I honestly dont get why people love to play against an AI, when they are there to play MULTIPLAYER. YOU COME TO PLAY MMO’S TO PLAY WITH OTHER PEOPLE, YET EVERYONE WANTS TO PLAY AGAINST A COMPUTER.

My response

I can explain it to ya in one simple sentence: The AI plays fair.

For the most part, the AI does not cheat. It does not “gank” you. It does not dupe money to buy gear no one of its level should have. It does not use exploits to get unfair advantage and then use that advantage to go after people playing the game by the rules.

Many people who have had unpleasant experiences have had them in the context of the other guy using some sort of an exploit to get an unfair advantage, and win the fight by not playing fair and square. There are a lot of people who will do things like “duel” other players, but don’t want open PVP. I knew a bunch of folks in SWG when I played it, who never went “overt” to do PVP, but dueled a lot. It wasn’t that they opposed PVP… it’s that by dueling they could ensure that the fight was fair, that their opponent was honorable, and that if they lost, they lost fair and square to a legitimately better player… not to some guy who had used a login/logout exploit to dupe resources and build an item nobody playing the game honestly could get. Some of these folks were quite good at PVP. It wasn’t about “will I lose?” (they lost duels plenty of times), but about, “Will it be a fair fight?”

Too often in these games, in an open or “free for all” setting, what happens is the gankers are going around looking, not for a fair fight, but for a way to lord it over someone else and beat up on a weaker player. There’s a term for this kind of behavior in the real world: BULLY.

People do not like bullies. They do not like being bullied. Read the posts on this thread and you will see the mentality. There are a handful of loud bullies here asking for the equivalent of an unpoliced schoolyard so they can go around beating up weaker kids and taking their lunch money.

In the real world an “open bullying” schoolyard does not exist because the bullies are in the vast minority… and the majority will not permit them (legally or by local rules like “school policy”) to push other people around without consequences. In the real world, bullies are stopped by the authorities sooner or later, and it’s never the case that the rules permit bullying. Bullies do what they do against the rules, and if they get caught, they are punished.

In the online world it is the same way — since the population of gamers is drawn from the real population. Just like most people in the real world do not like being bullied, most people in the gamer world (being a subpopulation of that) also do not like being bullied. Open PVP, free for all, whatever you want to call it, means “open season for bullies”, and most people don’t want to live in a world dominated by bullies.

Remember, computer games are recreation. Most of us play them, in part, to escape from the unpleasantness of the real world. Bullies are an unpleasant element of reality… Why would anyone but a bully expect the gamer population to want to have that unpleasant element incorporated into the game world?

I see a lot of talk about PVPers… My take on it is this. A true “hardcore PVPer” would never want to PVP someone who was not interested in it, or wasn’t skilled. A true hardcore PVPer is someone who wants to fight other hardcore, skilled PVPers, in a fair battle, testing player skill against player skill. This is true in much the same way that a boxer, as an athlete, is happy to go up against someone in a ring with a referee, but would not normally start punching random weaklings on the street… Boxers don’t do that because fighting in the ring is a sport, and a fair contest… and smacking people around on the street, is being a bully.

Asking to be able to shoot someone 30 levels below you in the back of the head is not being a hardcore PVPer any more than Evander Hollyfield asking the city to make it legal for him to beat up anyone he wants on the streets would be. It’s being a bully.

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