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Why Do You Play?


Another common motivation is achieving goals within the environment. As the following players explain, the reason why this is so appealing is because there is a constant sense of becoming stronger, more competent, more skilled, and there are so many ways the environment offers players to advance.

I play for the interaction with others as well as for the constant improvement of myself and others. What is appealing to me is that you CAN keep on playing; there is almost always something else you can do. When you finish one thing, there is always another thing, another obstacle to pass. [EQ, M, 16]

The reason I play is that there is so much to do. You can lvl your character and when you get bored, you can craft. Or you can choose another job class. Get bored with that, you can fish, mine, log ... etc. And the thing that gets the most is the scope of the game. How large the world is and the detail of everything. [FFXI, M, 23]

I like the whole progression, advancement thing ... gradually getting better and better as a player, being able to handle situations that previously I wouldn’t have been able to. [EQ, M, 48]

Another player articulates precisely why this is so seductive in MMORPGs:

For the entire first 20 years of our life, we're taught that if 'you put the work in, you'll get the reward'. And it does happen that way -- If we study for school, we get good grades, or do well on tests. If we practice hard, we make the soccer team or the band. If we make the effort to learn or do certain things, we get the next girl scout or boy scout badge. Same goes for college. There is a very clear cause and effect relationship in many of the things we do in our young life. Then ... we graduate from college or grad school, and find ourselves out in the 'real world'. Suddenly, effort and determination are only part of the equation that leads to reward, because now the world isn't as insulated as it was before, or as predictable. Your responsibilities go beyond simply trying to improve yourself, and luck and circumstance play a role in the course your life takes. Sometimes, you try very little, or put in little effort, but you're at the right place at the right time and reap big rewards. Sometimes you work so hard you want to scream, and it seems no one notices, and you don't feel at all fulfilled. The element of measurable and certain reward disappears to an extent, and for some people (like me) attaining personal goals I set for myself in a game like EQ allows me to enjoy some measure of accomplishment, some level of control, and the personal satisfaction that comes with it on a weekly basis. [EQ, F, 35]

But another seduction of achievement in these environments is that it gives players a sense of empowerment that for some players is much harder to derive from real life:

First off, I am handicapped, and thus don't make real life friends easily. However, in EQ the 'playing field' for social interaction is leveled. I can act and say what I really feel like saying without the pressure I normally feel when around others. No longer am I just another 19 year old in college with an average future. Through sweat and blood I can become someone who wields great power, who has earned the respect of his fellows, and whose actions have a true impact on what goes on in the 'game'. I guess when it comes down to it, I feel as if I have accomplished more through my actions in EQ than I will ever have the opportunity to do in real life (sad but true). [EQ, M, 19]

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Posted on April 15, 2004 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

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