Social Architectures in MMOs
Altruism and Reciprocity
Some players felt that the severe death penalties increased the general willingness of players to help each other, because all players understood the burden of death and, more importantly, all players knew that they too would need help one day.
Finding someone who could rez or summon your corpse or someone to help you retrieve it was key. People helped others because they knew they themselves would probably need similar help later. [F, 21]
This harshness also fostered a desire for players to actually help each other out in these situations since everybody knew how much death sucked and that by helping someone recover their corpse/experience that person might be willing to help you out in return someday if you ever wound up in the same position. This often lead to forming relationships with other players and even getting a guild invite from helping out others. [M, 29]
Guilds, even enemy guilds, would help each other recover from bad wipes because they knew that there were occasions when they would need help. This helped to mitigate annoying behavior since you knew you may need to work together at times. [M, 42]
Death Penalty Creates True Risk
The severity of death also intensified the emotions of all actions that might lead to dying. There is no genuine risk without a true penalty, and as such, the amount of risk associated with normal game-play has changed a great deal as the death penalty has lowered. Compared with the dangerous world of Norrath (the world of EQ), Azeroth (the world of WoW) feels much more rubber-padded.
I remember working for two week in the original EQ to get to level 5. I finally got brave and wandered a few hundred yards away from the guards in Kelethin and promptly got lost in the fog. I was soon attacked by several level 8 mobs and died. I've never experienced that level of fear and concern as I searched frantically for my corpse. I currently play WOW and enjoy it for the most part. However, there is no need to ask for help as the game does 90% of the work for you. Anything the game does not provide can easily be found on the internet. In some ways I like that, but at times I really wish someone could come up with a way to recapture the original spark that kept me playing EQ for close to five years. [M, 39]
The harsh 'sting' of death in those games really made your heart pump during fights and a rush when you killed someone and took their loot. [F, 48]
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