The Practice Stage
Ramping Up / Progress
The initial exploration and discovery stage helps players learn the ropes of the game. As they explore more and more of the world (in terms of both geography and mechanics), they start seeing and understanding the boundaries of the game. These boundaries also highlight the game's mechanics and many players then drift into progression-oriented game-play. Either they realize that they need to advance to explore further or progression makes more sense now that the boundaries have been made clear.
The initial reason for playing is the same: exploration. I want to see new landscapes, new monsters, new characters and new challenges. As play continues the main goal becomes achievement: how much gold can I acquire, what's the best gear and how do I get it or can I defeat the toughest boss in the dungeon? [WoW, M, 36]
When I fist start an MMO I find that I will play because you get to discover new things. After that it is more striving for better stats. [GW, M, 16]
In the beginning it was just for fun, but now it's is more because I want to progress, wanna be the best in in the class, be able to make the best items, be highest lvl. In others words I guess it's that I want the other people to look up at me like that guy is good. [M, 19]
Joining Groups and Guilds
Typically, at this stage, players start to understand the value of grouping up with others. Whereas many players tend to favor solo play early on, they come to see that being in a group or a guild is either valuable or necessary due to a variety of game mechanics.
I used to play to occupy my time; I mostly solo'd and didn't care about being part of a group. Now I like to be a cog in a bigger machine and help a group achieve goals. [EQ, F, 60]
I started to play the game and quickly became involved in leveling my character up as soon as possible, getting the best items and gear which was possible. When I approached the end game content and was nearing a point where it was very difficult to progress any further, I realised that joining a guild was the only way forward. To my surprise, but ultimate joy - I realise that the REAL game in warcraft for me was the social interaction and friendships I made, the teamwork - the camaraderie. I became less and less interested in progressing my character further and instead started enjoying the social dynamics of the game. [WoW, M, 27]
When I started playing, I was only interested in exploring, figuring out how things worked. I hardly ever talked to anyone. Over time I started to talk to people around me, until eventually I did little *besides* talking to people, running a tavern nearly day-to-day for several months. [PlaneShift, M, 26]
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