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Virtual "Achievements"?


Some may argue that the problem is that not only are these virtual skills non-transferable to the real-world, but that they have no financial opportunities because they are part of a "game". But neither of these arguments holds any water.

We live in a culture that celebrates skilled performers in other "games" activities that are based on arbitrary rules and typically used as entertainment. Take chess or tennis for example. Certainly an MMORPG has all the elements of chess or tennis an arbitrary rule set, the need for strategic understanding at multiple depth levels, and a combination of training time as well as inherent talent. We recognize great chess-players and tennis-players, but for some the idea of recognizing a great guild or raid leader outside of an MMORPG feels awkward. But why should it? If its only about the financial opportunities, is it so far-fetched to imagine future MMORPGs where players pay or compensate a good guild or raid leader to be part of a successful group a virtual membership that parallels what real-world memberships do? But in fact, the financial opportunities are an effect of recognizing the achievement itself. If being a great guild leader involves the same types of symbolic challenges that a great chess or tennis player would face, then is that not something that deserves recognition?

We also have good evidence that the management and leadership skills we have mentioned can be learned in the virtual world and then be used in the real world. Data to support this can be found in the "Learning Leadership Skills" article. Afterall, leadership is about leading other people, and the context or medium isnt the primary issue. An individual who understands how to motivate, lead and manage individuals in a stressful, real-time context can probably do this in different scenarios.

We are now in a situation where we might be forced to compare virtual achievements with real-life achievements. If leading a large guild deserves recognition of some sort, then how does that compare with being an Eagle Scout in the real world or being elected school president? In a sense, the question may not be whether virtual achievements should be recognized now as much as whether this will be an inevitable phenomenon as virtual worlds become more complex and more people are involved with them. As people take virtual worlds and their own virtual identities more seriously, is it inevitable that our virtual achievements will be recognized? Could we imagine a future where we can accept both virtual and real-world achievements (or in fact realize that virtual achievements are real-world achievements)?

If we believe that virtual achievements are legitimate achievements, then we are left with a particularly disturbing question. If life is about finding happiness on an individual level and we accept that different people derive pleasure and satisfaction from different things - then what is our role with regards to individuals who are obsessed with these games but who are clearly making real achievements in the game? In fact, there is an X percentage of the population who can achieve more in the virtual world than in the real world because of their social, physical or psychological circumstances. If existential happiness and satisfaction is based on achievements, then this is to say there is some part of the population who can derive more happiness from the virtual world than from the real world. What then is our role in moderating obsessive game-play? Is it in our right to take away this source of happiness from an individual? Many of us believe that real-world achievements are more meaningful and gratifying than virtual achievements, but is this always true?

As these games become more realistic and more engaging, and it becomes more obvious that virtual achievements are on par and can be compared with real-world achievements, we are forced to answer tough questions that we never thought a "game" would force us to answer.


 



Comments

It should be possible for good organisators to have their qualities as a record card. This is valuable information about the true qualities and talents of a certain person. If someone, who is a good and valuable player in an MMORPG, want a RL job which is somewhat similar to his VL qualities I would not hesitate do give it a try.

Posted by: Wolfgang on June 27, 2003 6:54 AM

That is quite a thought provoking article. The section about virtual success being more important then real world success, and it's effect on happiness is very powerful.

Personally, this explains a lot. Up until a year ago, I was a very successful swimmer, and I took pride in my achievements, however upon graduating from college, and entering the world of work, marriage and home-ownership, all of which I take great pride in, I am missing that sense of competition and exhilaration, I got from racing. In DAoC I found it. I get the same exhilaration from leading a successful raid, killing a long time foe, getting into a battle where the odds are so stacked against me and winning.

This article provided the catalyst for what I will think be serval hours even days of inner reflection.

Thanks!

Posted by: Scott Bowe on June 27, 2003 9:34 AM

I used to run a DAoC Guild. It is still active & successful, although I no longer play on that server due to real life issues. It was on a US server, I live in the UK. Time zone differences took their toll in the end, having a wife, children and a home, as well as work eventually made it impossible to continue.

The guild started from nothing, but went to over 100 members, from all around the world. I still keep in touch. In order to successfully manage the guild, motivate the members and keep their interest, all of whom had their own real life issues & personalities to be taken into consideration took a lot of time and effort.

I set up a website, and a forum to help with this. I set up an alliance which also needed management involving meetings with the other Guild Leaders and Officers - it was all quite complex, delegating responsibilities to various officers etc as has already been discussed.

I applied for a new job role in work, and on my CV (resume) I included this information. At the interview it was questioned - the interviewer had clearly never heard of the game or what was involved. Having had the time to explain what went on, I am pretty confident it was helpful to me obtaining the postion I applied for - and I'm just as confident that the intervewer took the time to check out the website and forum.

It can help.

Posted by: Draigcoch on June 28, 2003 2:01 AM

I'm a manager of 15 people and I must see 10-15 reusmes a week. While I have never seen a person put thier MMORPG successes on a resmue I think that it would be valuable to list it. I don't think that my sucesses in DAoC are any less valuable than when I came in 5th on a 1/2 Ironman triathlon. The only concern I would have as an employer is that I'm in a small company and would be worried that any hoby that took 20+ hours a day would prevent that person from giving thier all at work.

Posted by: Qaz on June 29, 2003 3:32 AM

Well, I don't see gaming experiences becoming a big plus in most real-world business settings any time soon. There are too many people who view involvement in these games as at best kind of immature and at worst kind of strange.
People in my workplace can't believe the lengths people will go to in these virtual games to succeed and are amazed that anyone would pay real-life money for items in them. They also seem very prejudiced about these games, associating them with tragic events such as those by the disturbed Columbine shooters or the not-too-long-ago EQ suicide.
Add to that news media and other suggestions that the games are addicting, and I think it's easy to see the social stigma that would come with putting "successful EQ player/guildleader" or some such on a resume.
This is not to say that I don't see the value in them personally as a learning environment. I started a guild for the very reason I wanted to try out some ideas on motivating others, as well as understand some things about resolving conflicts and group dynamics. (Plus none of the other guilds really fit what I wanted for my leisure time.) If an educational virtual environment were created that is not played for fun, but as some sort of test, things might be different. I just don't see it being accepted if it's a leisure-time game.

Posted by: Ruby on July 9, 2003 8:51 AM

being a guildmaster of a pk guild is even harder... its like being a general of an army. its strange... my guild goes on huge raids and we are very successfull. after we are done it feels great. we have won a huge battle

Posted by: ciocch on July 13, 2003 7:43 PM

I feel that a more careful definition for achievement is necessary here. To me it is an entirely subjective determination. This is not to say that our subjectivity is not affected by society, only that the notion that camping and investing time in getting to lvl 40 is NOT an achievement is arbitrary. When I get to lvl 40 it WILL be an achievement, and if I could FIND the rare drop, and could organise my life to camp there, said drop would be an achievement as well. Maybe y'all forget what it's like to be such a nooooob as I!!!! ;-}

Posted by: aesculetum on July 15, 2003 2:25 PM

Hmmm ... I'm on an EQ break atm and it has been interesting to reflect how little I've missed it since stopping a few months ago ... and how totally unimportant all those EQ 'achievements' are looking back, yet they seemed so pressing at the time.

EQ is a fantasy world to which we escape. It is similar to the TV albeit with greater interactivity. We may use our communication and organisation skills to a greater or lesser degree (and with a greater or lesser degree of 'success') in the game but this doesn't warrant a badge of achievement any more than hosting a party or texting into a TV show.

As a manager, I would find it absolutely laughable to find MMORPG experience quoted on a CV. I wonder, would people ask their guildies for references ? and who would believe them ?

Posted by: Mamine on July 17, 2003 10:20 AM

I tend to agree that several skills used in RPG's do cross over to reality: things like assessing the need in a situation, things like organizing other people, and things like researching quests or locations for needed items to be obtained.

Things like self-control: both in *not* over-reacting when someone else is being unreasonable, and also in limiting the time spent "in game" so you don't neglect "real world" responsibilities.

In the past, I worked in assorted positions where good research was essential. Situations like RPG's can also hone social/business interaction skills.

However, there's still enough stigma against RPG's that I would not use it on a resume. At least, I would not mention it with any reference to the game.

If I were going to reference my time as a guild officer at all, I would most likely mention it in passing as having been the officer of an "online hobby club." The point would be that I was in charge of helping to organize other people in a "recreational" situation.

The detail that the venue was an RPG is irrelevant to the point. I was responsible to other people, and I was faithful in discharging my responsibilites. Even though it wasn't a business-oriented environment where this occurred.

For the most part, though, I figure I got my rewards in the realm where the effort was made. I saw a collection of complete strangers become a community of friends. I saw folks pull together and get things done. I saw them pause in their own pursuits to assist guildmates (with a little appropriate nudging). I saw people learn to think of someone other than themselves, and grow stronger for it.

I also saw that guild open its arms to too many whiny "give me!" kids that just wanted handouts, and would not absorb the ethics we had built. I saw the community's adults "burn out" and drift apart.

Did it take effort to motivate those people? Yes. Was it stressful at times? Yes. Was it heartbreaking to see what we'd built come apart? Yes. I instituted a guild merger that kept most of us together for a while. I was "acting" guild leader at the time. =\

Those who still play the game are on each others' buddy lists. We keep in contact, even though we are now scattered among a handful of different guilds. The fact that we remain on good terms is, to me, an accomplishment. Receiving tells from these folks is a form of constant recognition.

Though I know better than to expect the average hiring manager to comprehend this, unless they have also served a similar function in a similar format.

Posted by: "Eowenna" on July 17, 2003 10:36 AM

Very interesting article and intelligent responses. I believe that the evolution of the game, from recreational sports and a hand of jacks that soldiers would do between battles, children would devote to, and other phenomena- is all directed towards the desire to escape reality for a little while.

It's why a majority of people drink, or a plethora of drug-substances. It's also why media-propoganda, hollywood, dependent theatre, fad-magazines, and the entire existence of television, are so popular--- people just don't like real life enough to spend 24 hours a day there.


I think mmorpgs like EQ and DAoC whet such appetites, giving both the complexity of competition, and emmersion of a fantasy world. Alot of peopleuse it as therapy- where they get to kill, ransack, b*tch, and hang out with people.


More or less, I think these things I've put a few years into are both sick in that they delude the cold reality of our existence and muddles it with fantasy-- and also a relatively-helpful outlet of day-to-day life.

Personally, I'd rather be doing natural things.

Posted by: LeClaire on August 2, 2003 12:41 PM

I would like to respond to the point made that rpg's (to keep things simple, I'm taking 'rpg' to mean strictly 'online mmorpg' for my response) are still viewed as a wierd or immature form of recreation by the general public.

The first thing any person or group must do in order to be taken seriously by others is to begin taking themselves seriously. I believe that the majority (but certainly not all) of mmorpg participants view their online gaming as a guilty pleasure of sorts. Of course, then there are those in the mmorpg community who actually _are_ wierd and/or immature... :)

Posted by: David on August 21, 2003 4:08 PM

There have been several facets of virtual achievements that have directly benefitted my career and my career choices. In particular, at one point in my career, when I was considering a major change, my achievements in a particular MMO encouraged me to go ahead and take the plunge. At the time I was playing Jumpgate (a space-sim MMO) and through a great deal of effort had amassed the greatest fortune in the game and had even come to the point where I understood the game economy enough to influence it in my guild's favor, without breaking it.

In addition, I have learned that what I enjoy and don't enjoy (or am not good at) in MMO's is likely to translate to enjoyment and success or dislike and failure in similar situations IRL. Case in point, for me, is the example of the raid leader. I can't, for the life of me, imagine going through the stress and annoyance it takes to get one of those things going. My preference is toward leading and honing small groups of experts rather than herding a rampaging horde. I interface well with such people, but I have little desire to be them, in game or in business.

Posted by: Mark on February 2, 2005 4:51 PM

After reading this article I felt compelled to post about it. Good article.

I think the article is skimming across the dangerous lines of how we identify self-worth and self-improvement and there should be NO ambiguity about questions of self-worth and how one can achieve worthwhile accomplishments in life and feel good doing them.

People play games (pyschological games as well...) to escape, ask any AA/NA member. An Online-RPG is a harmless game providing a fun, convenient, and SAFE environment to relax in and do some casual acting with frenzied clicking. Pleasure should be associated with the game, afterall its supposed to be fun!

Projecting real value into valueless accomplishments done by imaginary characters seems to me as distorting the line between reality/fantasy.

Most of the accomplishments listed in the article are not about the game itself, but more of the interaction/communication/hierarchies the game provides between players. What the article is missing is that the interaction ALWAYS carries the wieght of the 'Game' with it. People aren't communicating honestly if they're playing a game, which is the nature of games.

So, how can one ascribe worth to In-Game Leadership that isn't based on real communication but on how well one leads hiding behind the 'game'?

Simply put, you cannot.

How well your GuildLeader manages to recruit/raid isn't telling on how well he/she even manages to clean up their room, simply because being good at a game doesn't translate to being good at life. Taking off the 'mask/protection' of the game and doing accomplishments in reality is promotion of a healthy self-worth, the other is a distortion.

Infact, it would make me wonder how much time is being spent of running the guild at the cost of real life experiences.

If truly MMORPG accomplishments WERE viable then why not list AD&D adventures as well? Or applying to the army due to your ability with FPS?

Anyway, enough of the Big Book rheotoric,

Andy.

Posted by: Andy on March 2, 2005 4:01 PM

Good post Andy,

Yes, I find that devoting countless hours to a game doesn't constitute RL success. I played EQ for a year, and in that year, I reached the max level, became a high ranking officer, held my own guild activities, completed many hard quests, maxed several tradeskills, and handled many interpersonal complications that came with having such a large guild. What acchomplishments do I see that I have done after I have gotten my life back together? None.

During those times, I had sacrificed so much time and effort to many IRL relationships. Also by dedicating so much time to this, many things that show responsibility are cut back from many peoples lives... like cleaning, taking care of the car, daily chores, and taking the extra time to do something special for the ones that love you.

It is actually a lack of responsibility one takes by devoting their precious time to hours on end, clicking and typing at a cold flickering computer monitor being a leader to others doing the same thing. What truly was acchomplished? A computer based NPC was killed with X hit points and X amount of guildies being organized. Sure, this does take lots of effort to do this I agree. Yet spending the day working on the house or doing IRL tasks would be a much better acchomplishment because if affects the people around you. Helping someone gain a pixilated virtual piece of equipment is no means close to equalling helping someone attain and install a part for their automobile.

I find it truly a lack of responsibility that one would dedicate their time to this. I myself am sad at the time I spent prolonging the time spent of the members of our guild, and that I even got a IRL friend hooked on MMORPG's.

On last thought is that leadership skills and interpersonal communication skills learned in a virtual world, doesn't relate fully enough to IRL interaction. Typing to someone whom will never see your face, won't ever have to come over to see your house, and that you have the safety of an unknown amount of miles away from them, gives many the courage in game to be more talkative in game then they would IRL. I have had many friends in game whom were intraverts, that would admit they are not this funny IRL and talkative IRL, because they feel safe in the game. Also many guild leaders that I have known couldn't get five monkeys to peel a bananna, because they were lacking of the social skills one gets from IRL interaction... It's like they have been to Mars for the past 5 years and forgot what Earth was like.

Well just being honest /shrug

Posted by: Seconddayhero on May 16, 2005 12:43 PM

People can have a "mask" in real life too, think of pathological liers. I know many people in real life that 95% of what they say are lies, and I've also talked too people I've met online, and never lied too them, and felt I could truly trust them. Sure you can't see the pesrons face, but that dosn't make the person any less of a person. I don't see online life much diffrnt then offline life.

Posted by: Hunter on August 24, 2005 9:28 PM

This article appeals to me the most out of the many great ones I have seen here. How do you define success, satisfaction, or an achievment.
Everyone does not have the same definition of these. So for me, playing SWG I feel successful when I know I am a strong pvpr. I feel satisfaction from knowing that I have contributed to the overall pvp nature of my server. Finally, I feel achievment at every level up, every successful fight, every new person that I interact with in game.

In response to seconddayhero: Your argument is good. It is not however, flawless... your value judgment assumes that the pixelated friends are not real, they are however real people. It comes down to a personal decision by each player... which do they feel better doing? Helping a person in a game, or helping a reality person.

Posted by: Chris Niske on August 30, 2005 3:26 PM

The reason that I've been involved with MMORPGs in the past has been simply because it offered me relative power that I simply lacked in the real world due to my age. Now that I'm close to graduating from college, the achievement aspect of MMORPGs is less intriguing. That's not to say it isn't a good feeling to achieve a goal, whether IRL or in game. The problem is that to be truly succesful with an MMORPG you have to really be willing to sacrifice your real life.

You undoubtedly improve skills in leadership, organization, and communication but not near to the degree that you are able to in a real life equivalent. Anyone can pretty much read a guide and run a raid. Typing over AIM or even talking over TS2/Vent doesn't offer someone the same speech training that real life does because emotions and inflection are difficult to express over the net and these are important parts of communication. The problem with an MMORPG is that the world plain and simply isn't as complex as the real world. It never will be. Slaying dragons and running market analyses to determine which product to bring to market with the resources allocated just don't quite stack up. So while I agree 100% that one can develop essential "real world" skills, they aren't to the degree that would leave many employers impressed enough to hire you without already being a qualified employee through other more typical job experience.

Posted by: Dhaeman on September 6, 2005 4:11 PM

Doctor Who takes three prizes at the National Television Awards in a repeat of its success last year...

Posted by: Keagan Sweat on December 13, 2006 4:36 PM

Imagine this scenario:
Boy plays football for 20 hours a week, becomes a very good player and gets into the 1sts team for his school. Said boy is given awards and recognition by parents, friends, coaches and teachers.
Now this:
Boy plays WoW for 20 hours a week, becomes a very good player and gets a 2000+ arena rating, which requires skill and teamwork. Said boy is laughed at and ridiculed by his peers for playing the game, and his parents worry about him.
This kind of thing annoys me. Alot.

Posted by: Elmo on March 30, 2008 4:08 PM

Just cause it's simple doesn't mean it's not super hlefpul.

Posted by: Trish on January 3, 2012 1:31 AM
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