There are several reasons why player dependency encourages relationship formation. On a superficial level, it increases the possible interactions two players could have. But itís much more interesting than that. First of all, it increases the number of ways that players can help each other. Very frequently in EQ, you meet someone new by asking for a Bind or a Clarity. The asker is humbled, the giver is empowered, but both players usually come away from the encounter with a sense of mutual benevolence. Asking help from a stranger or being asked a favor from a stranger are far rarer occurrences in DAOC because of the relative independence the game mechanics give each player. These encounters, which are frequent in EQ and rare in DAOC, help create debts of goodwill on an individual level that foster future encounters between these two players. The following account highlights these kinds of relationships:
"My primary character is a Cleric, so on one occasion my guild was on a raid in a dungeon area and I came across one players corpse. This was unusual because of where we were and how deep we were in the dungeon. I sent this person a "tell" to see if she needed a res. She replied and was very excited that I was there to res her. After she gathered her equipment she tried to give me some Platinum pieces, which I refused since I didnít go out of my way to help her ... I was just there. A month later, my guild was performing another raid and we were wiped out by some unexpected baddies .. The person I ressed happened to be in a group near the beginning of the dungeon where we were wiped out, and before I knew it, most of her guild was there to help clear the dungeon and get our corpses back. I mean about 30 other players went out of their way to come and help my friends out just because I helped one of their friends a month before. I donít know many people who would do that in real life Ö All I can say is ... Thank you Ostara" [m, 32]
Random Acts of Kindness
A variation of this theme is the random acts of kindness that many players experience. By increasing the number of ways that players can help each other, it increases the chances that altruistic individuals help lower-level players. Individual altruistic events promote trust at the community level which is crucial for trust at the individual level when two strangers encounter each other and could potentially form a relationship.
"One of my fondest memories of the game was having my first buff cast upon me by a level 19 Shaman. I didnít realize this could be done and it was at this point that the level of player interaction became apparent. A random act of kindness that one rarely sees in real life these days that has encouraged hours/days of play since." [m, 25]
"Those random acts of kindness really make online games a pleasure to play in. Whether someone has tossed me a heal, SOW or other useful spell for no reason, or given me a nice item without asking. I've tried my best to return these acts to others whenever possible." [m, 28]
Some EQ players were vocal about the annoyances of the player dependencies in EQ, and DAOC was consciously designed to make players more independent of each other than in EQ. However, these minor annoyances may actually help encourage and sustain strong social relationships in the long-run.
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