About 27% of MMORPG players felt that the most satisfying event they had experienced over the past week occurred in the game environment. 33% of MMORPG players felt that the most infuriating event they had experienced over the past week occurred in the game environment. Between the lines, we begin to see that MMORPGs are environments that players love to hate. And understanding the emotional investment and the emotionally salient experiences that players have in these worlds allows us to understand what goes on in these worlds from a valuable perspective.

When players are asked to describe positive experiences that were memorable, many bring up unexpected acts of honor or altruism from other players. The humdrum of real life seldom presents opportunities where acts of courage can be seen, but in MMORPGs, crises and death are always close at hand. More importantly, MMORPGs give players the ability to perform acts that are heroic in terms of the risk, courage or loyalty involved. Altruism is in fact a by-product of the design of these worlds. But along with acts of courage come acts of cowardice, betrayal and malice. The frequency and diversity of ways that courage, honor and malice can occur in these environments is far greater than real life typically presents them. What does it mean when the most memorable experiences people have occur in virtual environments? Could we think of these environments as a form of hyper-reality?

Another way to approach this love-hate relationship is through players who have quit MMORPGs. Ironically, many of these players complain that what started as entertainment quickly became more like a second job. Guild meetings and raids impose demands that disrupt real life schedules. Manufacturers are forced to log-on every day to fulfill client orders. And not only are they working in these online worlds, but they are also paying the game company to work in them. What started as a game has become free labor.


The Daedalus Gateway - The Psychology of MMORPGs

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