Player narratives provide unique glimpses into MMORPG worlds that numbers and graphs cannot. When players are asked to share memorable stories and experiences, a very common theme that emerges is the altruism that players find in MMORPGs. The experience is oftentimes accompanied by both surprise and lament - surprise that altruism exists in these virtual environments, and lament that it is seen so much less often in real life.
Quite some time ago, I was playing with a full group in the sarnak fortress in Omen. We had an ogre for a tank who seemed to be the most experienced of us all; in fact, I think some in the group were very inexperienced. We got in pretty deep and were holding our on for some time...I think we were all having a good time and exp was good. Then, like clockwork in the fortress, the adds began to stream in out of nowhere. Mr. Ogre ascertained that we were in over our heads and gave the RUN command (as he was in charge). Two team members were already well on their way and I tarried to watch the last of the group leave, except our tank who was holding way too many at bay while we made our escape. Being a druid (backup healer) it is my style to stay behind for a brief period to snare, root or heal during our escape. But Mr. Ogre showed rare courage by staying until everyone was clear, including me, knowing that he would probably not make it out alive. That was the most selfless thing I had seen done before or since. He stayed, knowing the corpse retrieval that awaited him, the experience he would lose, and the wasted time he was about to experience because of it. He could have ran and lived, but he didnt for our sakes. Since that time, I have played differently, making the same sacrifices in a druid's way. I've taken suicide missions, evac'ed people that were trapped or dieing, and attempted missions for people when I knew full well we were sorely outnumbered. But when you make sacrifices for people, they will remember, and the best groups are those built on loyalty, self-sacrifice, and courage. --- [EQ, male, 32]
There have been several people who have done completely altruistic things that still amaze me. Giving away valuable items when they could be sold for lots of money. Fighting to save me when I was going to die. Pulling my corpse out of a completely unsafe place that I had blundered into and would never have gotten out of (darn Frontier Mountains Giants...) without help. That is the one thing that amazes me. That people, with not only no incentive to do this, but the disincentives of loss of time and possible loss of life and definate loss of money, continue to act as very good and decent human beings. --- [EQ, female, 39]
I am guild leader of a small to medium sized guild on EverQuest and the longstanding members of the guild are in some ways like a family, certainly nothing less than very good friends. So, there are close ties. Recently, I, in real life, have had a series of crises, financial and otherwise. Firstly, my roommates stopped paying their bills and then, wihtout notice, moved out of the appartment, leaving me with over $2,000 of bills to pay. A couple of weeks later, I lost my job and a few weeks after that, my grandfather had an accident, and is still in the hospital because he has contracted numerous ailments just from being in a hospital environment. There is great concern on the part of his physicians that he will live through this experience. Not because I am guild leader, but just because I have become one of the guild "family" members, I have had more than one guild member offer to help me financially. One of the young members of my guild even offered to take money from his college savings to help me. I did not accept the offers, but just the fact that these individuals who only know me from the game have offered their support, say quite a lot of good things about people in this world. I am not the first person from this guild to experience this. Another member, who passed away shortly before my crises occurred, was ailing from a heart condition which prevented him from leading a normal life. These same guild members also offered him the same support, one of them sending this person's family money to help with bills, etc. These people had never met in person, but still, just as if they had known each other in real life for years, one helped the other and we all offered this person and his family our moral support. I think this shows that there is more to a MMORPG than just the gaming part for some people. It is a way of making contact and friendships with other individuals worldwide, that would be pretty much impossible otherwise. --- [EQ, female, 40]
A Friend and I were camping the Preacher room in Permafrost. Hoping to get a Rune Circlet which neither of us had. He was a Druid 32 I was Playing my Enchanter 32. We were doing well most were green. some of the casters and the preacher was blue. Well one Mob got away and i had my DUMB enchanter animation out. We promptly had 10 Greenies beating on us. My pet had aggro'd everything. We as you guessed it died. I popped up in Everfrost and rememed spells and prepared for CR. I get this tell. hey where are you. I said i have no clue. Meet me at zone this person says i will show you to your body. I met up with this high level Euridite mage. He leads me to my body. I forgot to mention that when we were fighting all those greenies the preacher had popped again. We had just killed him 5 minutes before. He helped to finish us. Anyhow me and the Mage go into the room ITS EMPTY. My heart sank as i knew this uber mage had killed the Preacher. The mage said to me, you died camping the preacher?? Yes i said. got mobbed by Greenies he had just repopped again. All of a sudden my Trade window pops up. THE RUNE CIRCLET he said i know what its like to camp something for so long only to die trying to get it. here i killed him for you take the circlet. I couldn’t believe it. I actually had a tear forming in my eye, my mouth was wide open. This guy could have taken the circlet and gotten an easy 400pp for it. Thats what they sold for when i got it. Instead he gave it to me. My druid friend had forgotten to bind in Everfrost so he was still on his way from NK when he got there the mage showed him the way to his body also. That is the single coolest thing that ever happened to me in EQ. Somone who acutally thought more of others then themselves. Its people like that Mage that make EQ so worthwhile to play. That one act of Kindness wipes out all the other greedy idiots who continue to plague Norrath. --- [EQ, male, 37]
There are those people, and I am one of them, that will go out of his or her way to help someone else that is inexperianced or troubled in EverQuest. But then there are the theives, liars, and scammers that try with all there unintelligent minds to trick another into giving up there money or an item. There are alot of people that do indeed have respect for others. Then there are those who do not. They see Everquest as a way to rip people off and take what they work for, without fear of getting in "Trouble." I hope that one day this will come to an end and I can trust a person.[EQ/Male/17]
I love reading stories like this - it brings back to the forefront all the kind things that have been done for me over the past year. It makes me stop and think - "what have YOU done for others lately?"
Life shows us many lessons. Perhaps the best are when we see the self sacrifice of others. I know many stories such as these where I've played both rolls, helper and helpee(person being helped). I know how the acts of one can change your look at the game. As sad as some of the 'bad' people in EQ are, the good far outwiegh them. There's a concept very simmilar to what takes place... pass it foward... and it's what I atempt to do in and out of the game on a daily basis. Touch one life, and maybe they'll touch another... and another. Be the start of a chain that could change the world.
There are many whole guilds whose behavior or reputations center around good deeds, generosity, loyalty and selflessness. Most of them use selective application processes to keep from getting screwed. My guild brothers are always there for me, and I in return am happy to be always there for them. It would never occur to me to do any of them wrong. It feels great to interact in a virtual world where there are dozens of people you can trust implicitly.
As a dwarven cleric in one of Rallos Zek's oldest and most honorable guilds I must say that performing acts of bravery, kindness and honor are the single most rewarding experiences in the game. Almost without fail, I heal, buff and ressurect anyone who needs it at anytime (with the exception of known PK's or those in infamous PK guilds). I highly value the fun to be had from roleplaying, and those who try to stay in character while I help them are a joy to encounter. I often run through low level zones and randomly buff people with my Donals Vambraces (clickable Resolution), then run on without another word. Watching the words "Hey thanks mister cleric sir!" come across the zone in a shout puts a smile on my face. On a server like RZ, which most closely approximates the Real Life ability for bad people to do bad things, it is ever more important to be one of the good guys, doing the right thing just because it's right. I couldn't live with myself if I was hated or feared everywhere I went. Evil is evil, even if it is "just a game," and these evil PK's need to realize that there is a real person on the other end of that modem who is being hurt by their thievery and bad attitude.
I think it's great to help people out. I was once a newb and even if i weren't i still admire the selfless acts that make eq so worthwhile. As a beginning mage i had no money, no useful items, or anything. One of the first times i grouped with someone (a necro) we started talking and she realized that i had no clue of the world outside our beginning forest (a place i call home now, you'll see me in Nekulos on Prexus quite often, willing to help anyone i can). Well after we had made some xp camps together she offered to show me some of the ropes in eq (like POK or the Bazaar) and ended up giving me 400pp from her epic cleric which i have since wisely invested in expensive spells. Now i can afford to help anyone i can, my summon spells give very useful items for those who have nothing, or i keep an invisible eye on those hunting just in case they get over their head (i know, i've been there). I've ended up saving quite a few lives now and don't regret a second of it...
I really love this article, and the comments!
Four years ago I founded an EQ guild on the Morell-Thule server after playing EQ for a year. I wanted to practice "random acts of kindness" and was inspired to send a "Call" to others who were longing for this kind of fulfillment only helping others can bring.
Random Acts is still running today, and we have been through our trials like a lot of family and service guilds have. Now we are getting ready to branch out into EQII this fall. I am going to recommend to everyone that they look at this website and especially this article.
Thanks so much!
As far as those three topics go, I see little of some and lots of others. Altruism in the games I play are all around, if you look in the right places. The same with loyalty. The only problem I find is that people fight without honor. I mainly play DAoC lately, and I am to the point of quitting because no matter where I go, I can't find a decent fight. Either I am fighting someone, and 5 people have to help him, or I am fighting someone, and 6 people have to help me. Even though the help is unneeded and unwanted. Very rarely do I ever find someone respectable enough to fight my characters 1v1 without any help or special abilities that allow them to win automatically. I can't say why, but I can say that it's annoying. [DAoC, M, 18]
I experienced way more kindness from players in EQ than scammer/liars.
I can only remember one bad thing that happened to me in EQ and that was when I was a niave noob in West Freeport .. a kind fellow female Monk gave me 2 fist weapons. Not 5 minutes later another monk came up to me asking where I got the weapons. I told him. He asked me to link them. I had no clue how to link an item then. He said "let me hold them so I can see the stats, I'm not an asshole.. I won't take them". I gave them to him, he kept them and logged out. So in that one day I experienced kindness and a thieving liar. I'm glad he did it actually.. it taught me a lesson. But later in levels I realized the weapons weren't all that.. so why the hell did he want to steal them? What an asshole.
This article is very interesting to me as it represents (at least in part) the foundation of a group I created. After having spent years playing a variety of online, multiplayer games I settled on two principles that, in my personal opinion, make for the most enjoyable and effective gameplay: altruism & intelligence.
I wrote an article on this recently on our website. Here is a segment that seems to work out of context and which I find relevant to this discussion:
"I have seen some incredibly altruistic players--people willing to sacrifice anything for anyone. They seemingly make no distinction between themselves and those around them. They freely share the results of their own hard work for little or nothing in return.
This attitude alone can yield great group success, depending upon the altruism of surrounding people, but will more likely be self-destructive. And the cruel irony is that this person will soon not have the resources to continue being so generous.
So for an altruistic attitude to be most effective, it must be managed by intelligent decisions. Who are you donating to, and to what extent? What are the potential improvements on a group level? What are the potential losses?
This extends beyond resource sharing. I also see frequent acts of altruism that are, for lack of a better term, stupid. Charging into a battle solo, attempting to rescue someone you can't save (and dying yourself in the process), dumping mana on healing someone who doesn't use their extension of life to benefit the situation, and many other actions may be seen as kind or honorable, but in the end they're just poor decisions.
Inversely, intelligence alone does not make for effective group game play. A team comprised of selfish and self-centered people, albeit brilliant, will likely flop. It's not fun for the group to be associated in this way, and rarely even for the individuals.
I'd rather be in a group with an altruistic-only person than an intelligent-only person any day."
Here's the full article, if it interests you:
I played EQ for a long time and I did so mostly because I liked helping other people.
It is a shame that so many people do not trust because of bad things that happened while in the games.
I have wanted to play WoW for quite sometime and I have been told by several people that it offers a really nice background for people who still like things like; trust, honor, duty, and giving your word.
I guess I am simple when it comes to these things but they mean a great deal to me and to many other people I know.
Not to brag, but I'd say my world of warcraft guild is a perfect example of this. We're a small to midsized guild (Just a hair below 100 people) and people pretty much send each other free stuff. People will pop on guild chat and say, "Anyone need X item? I have it." or "Anyone need X item? I can craft it or farm a few for you."
This is a perfect example. I got an Aurora Cowl (WoW ingame item) for free from a guildmember. Would've cost me 1 gold to buy it.
I do wonder, however, when these same altruistic people turn off their machines and drive to work, do they cut off people in traffic? Are they the type who give money to homeless people or offer assistance to their neighbors when problems arise? Are they as altruistic in their real lives (where being altruistic may have a very real cost, as opposed to an in-game cost) as they are in a game?
As such, the most interesting post was the one from the woman who faced real-world difficulties and how her guildmembers tried to help her financially or simply to cope. I live in a post-Katrina New Orleans, where we've seen both incredible generosity from people who have no interest in being rewarded or lauded for it, and also some unbelivably odious behavior from people profiting on misery. I don't know that this affects my interest or ability to play games at all, and I suppose it would be interesting to know how people going through crisis approach a game such as this.
I think MMOGs can provide forums to meet people who might help, but that does not necessarily translate into people who will help. Perhaps, however, if MMOGs assist in reinforcing social skills (it is good to help other people) then there is a genuine societal benefit in the games. I think, however, it is likely that people who were already altruistic are also altruistic in games, rather than that people "learn" or "become" more altruistic as a result of their gaming experiences.
[Not a serious gamer/M/37]
I used to play KoL for a while.
I remembered when i first joined the game as a newbie, seasoned gamers would simply give me items that helped me at the early part of the game. It was great to see people who were willing to give stuff to newbs w/o their asking. The items weren't rare, but the acts of kindness were appreciated nonetheless.
The degree in proven altruism, loyalty and kindness is how higher officers are selected in our 'guild' (group of players). This is only revealed to them after they have been selected.
People remember those who are kind to them. It opens doors.
Ohhh Lord, where are this things in todays players? Of far far away seems this happenings? I lived and enjoyed reading of it as all of us.
We very often says that games aren't able to give us that feeling that EQ gave, but I sincerely think we were another breed of players, "the few and the brave" :)
Missing those old days soooo much, I guess I am getting too old :)
Jacu, 37, Male
Ok, i'm sure the last one was just as touching and emotional as the first ones, but it took me like half an hour to filter his words and turn the piece of text into something readable for a non-gamer... For those who haven't done this already: please, cut it out with the game-speech. Save that for a forum that is meant for discussing the CONTENT of the game (not the psychological effects). That way everybody can join this discussion, even complete... I guess they're called Noobs? ;)
Considering how old this post is I thought I might add one of my stories to the list to freshen it up for everyone.
My most memorable chance to meet a nice person online was during my years of playing Lineage II. I was going to meet up with one of my friends for some training. He was already deep inside the catacomb that we were going to grind in. Since my character was a tank class, I thought I should be able to navigate my way to him as long as I was careful. Well, I was incorrect in thinking that. About halfway in I got too many enemies on me and died. When you die, there is a small percent chance that you will drop one of your items onto the ground. As luck would have it, I dropped my sword when I died. It was the best sword I could use for my character and it even had enchantments on it. It could have easily sold for millions in the market. To my dismay, as my character is lying there on the ground dead, an elf scout runs past me. He stops, picks up my weapon, and without a moments hesitation he pops up the trade window with me. There it was, my sword sitting right there. He didn't even say anything to me aside from a short "np" when I profusely thanked him. I don't think I have run into anyone more noble than him, and I won't forget the favor.
LII, male 20