I’ve been sitting on this post for a little while now. Checking the publish date on the video I’ll share with you shortly — it is likely I’ve been sitting on it since March, or at least April. The topic of the video is an old chestnut so far as this community is involved. That being, the shift of MMO’s from being a high social endeavour to a much more solo affair. Case in point, Kaylriene recently touched on a particular aspect of this, matchmaking systems.

I’ve given this topic a go in the past too. I took a rather me-centric look at the process though. While I talked to external factors, the focus was really on how I changed over time. The morphing of my habits from being incredibly social and willing to build relationships into someone very closed off from this kind of thing. To someone not only content with his existing friend group but actually someone who can be actively resistant to the expansion of this group.

I have complicated feelings around what I think of that latter fact. But fortunately I don’t have to unpick them in this post. It isn’t the focus.

I’m taking a much more external-led view of the subject this time, triggered by the fact I just happened across some videos from Josh Hayes on the reasons why we don’t think about MMOs in the same way anymore. One on why, perhaps, they’re not as fun as we once found them to be, and the second as already noted, on the change of social to solo as noted.

The Video that Triggered This Post

In particular, Josh’s forth point.

The Offloading of Social to Third-Party External Services

The video is very good and well worth a watch, but I can summarise Josh’s forth point relatively easily. It’s kind of there in the section-heading.

This isn’t even the current typography or logo for Discord, but you get the point.

It isn’t just Discord. Rather I highlight as a proxy for the ease of accessing communication services outside of specific games. Josh’s argument is that social interaction — as a whole — hasn’t truly decreased where MMOs are concerned. Rather that with the rise of Discord, YouTube, Twitch, and other community-building tools the socialisation has migrated.

And for me? This tracks.

I even highlighted the lack of such tools as a possible reason for losing some of the connections I valued so highly in the past. In the early days, there was no FaceBook. No Discord. No Steam. Beyond forums, very little in the way of connective tissue with people outside of the games we played. Even with Forums, it was often the case when a person dropped away from the game they also dropped away from the associated forum.

Now though, I’ve moved with the same group of friends in Discord (and Skype before that, MSN before that, etc, etc) for years. We organise dungeon content. Raids. Heck, any group content.

All things that once upon a time we would’ve had to do in-game.

In retrospect, none of this is really revolutionary information. To the point where it is actually somewhat striking to me that I hadn’t quite thought about it from this side of things, despite touching on it when looking at my own observed changes.


Categories: Gaming


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.


bhagpuss · May 25, 2021 at 2:36 am

Thanks for linking that video. It’s three-quarters of one of the best analyses of the changes in focus in the genre I’ve seen or read. The quarter that I don’t find convincing, however, is Part Four. I was about to discuss why in a comment but actually I think it would run too long so I’m going to turn it into a post of my own!

    Naithin · May 25, 2021 at 8:04 am

    You were on the mind as writing this one actually. I was pretty certain the technology aspect wouldn’t align with your own experience. Almost called it out even. :)

    I am also fairly convinced the ‘Why aren’t MMOs as fun to us any more’ video I also linked wouldn’t fit you either. Our experiences there have been quite different, both in terms of when in our lives we came to MMOs and how we view them now. :)

Aywren Sojourner · May 25, 2021 at 11:19 am

I haven’t wrote a post about this, but I’ve been saying for years how all these little nooks and crannies of social media has changed the face of socialization in online gaming. Now you have a million Discord servers all closed off from each other, unlike a global forum. The community is splintered off all over the place with no one real place to socialize together, least of all, in the game itself!

Discord is good for things like guilds, which I do think need a private place to communicate events and voice chat for important content. Even then, I won’t join a guild that requires Discord and favors voice chat while being completely silent in actual in-game guild chat.

Now days, every game and its mother is moving to Discord (not just indies), and it’s overwhelming and impossible for me to keep track of the millions of communities in this format.

    Naithin · May 25, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    It mostly amazes me how close I came to connecting these dots way back with the original post — but still not. xD I guess was just looking at it from a different perspective.

    Any case, very much agree with you — it is so very easy to become overwhelmed by the number of Discord servers available.

    I’ve made a fairly concerted effort not to join any more and have been able to hold to it for a fair while now. :)

      Nogamara · May 27, 2021 at 10:33 pm

      On the one hand I can’t even imagine being in a WoW guild that only works via Discord (we just use guild chat, and Discord is for “Imma post this link so everyone can see it in the following next days”) and on the other hand in EVE we 90% use Slack and only 10% is ingame, at certain points in time. But then you have corp-level, alliance-level (most important) and people are on several characters that might not even be in the correct chat, so it makes more sense. A bit more of strategical vs tactical, and EVE is a lot of strategy…

        Naithin · May 27, 2021 at 11:12 pm

        For us in WoW, outside of Raids or new content launch, we’re not all (or even most) logged in at the same time.

        GChat definitely happens for shooting the shit when we’re in and doing stuff casual like leveling alts or whatnot — but much past that and it’s probably a scheduled time and we’re probably on voice.

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