Social Architectures in MMOs
While it is true that early games (such as UO and EQ) had third-party database or information sites as well, these pale in comparison to websites such as Thottbot or WowWiki and add-ons such as Quest Helper. For example, the precise drop rates of items, the wandering range of mobs, and tools that calculate optimal sequence of quest completion based on geographical distance are all now available in World of Warcraft.
Databases Discourage In-Game Interaction
It is easy to assume that third-party databases are an information source and thus add to any existing social system. The things that these databases take away from social systems may be less obvious, but by providing a centralized information source, these databases removed the primary method for information gathering before--by interacting with other human players.
There weren't places on line you could go to get all the answers, you had to ask other players. There was a lot more give and take. [M, 29]
I much preferred the early days of MMOs when all the information you ever needed wasn't available on a website. It meant players actually worked together, spoke and chatted lots in the general channels about things directly related to the game and helped each other with quests. [F, 38]
As other players noted more explicitly, these queries could have led to friendships forming.
It does affect the number of relationships formed in-game. Without it, the player offering help will probably have to explain things to the one asking for it, but with it he'll just give a link. [M, 20]
If people were more willing to answer questions, it would be a great conversation starter and there would be more friendships forming. [F, 26]
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