Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

A World of Our Own: Online games and community

1:02 PM on 08.29.2007 // Leigh Alexander

I recently interviewed Nexon's Min Kim for Worlds in Motion, where I'm editor when not here at Destructoid. I cover bizness news related to online worlds, social networking, and MMOs that work on the free-to-play, pay-for-goods model. Nexon is, as you know, like, a ridiculously successful company in this space, and one of the more amazing things is that in this crazy 3D world in which we all live, one of its most successful longstanding games, MapleStory, is a 2D sidescroller. I reviewed MapleStory for the lil' Online World Atlas that I do over there, and I found the Asian-influenced, cutie-sprite oldschool look really charming; as I said, it reminded me of playing strange nonsense Hudson Soft-type games on my Turbo Grafx 16 back in the day.

has millions and millions of players worldwide -- I've heard the figures pegged at anywhere from 30 to 60 million users. When you think of how big a deal people like Newsweek and Time think Second Life is, reflect that Second Life has only about 7 million. On top of that, MapleStory has been thriving for almost five years now, and growing every year -- after about five years, the majority of MMOs have maxed out their lifecycles.

When I asked Kim about why MapleStory's been so successful in a relatively tricky market, his answers are pretty much what you might guess -- fresh content constantly, listening to what the users want, being unique graphically, and having a strong community. After all, the difference between MMO and just plain old O, as in, uh... you're the O-nly one playing (isn't that what it stands for?) is other people, right?  So what does your MMO community mean to you, and how does it affect the experience of gameplay?

The community element is one in particular that a lot of players in this space are talking about quite a lot lately. There's this huge gold rush going on for MMOs and virtual worlds; just about everyone has realized they can make a ton of money by aiming a community-oriented product at the "sweet spot" aged about 14-17. Especially if they can get those kids to bring their friends. Saying that peer pressure drives site loyalty is a bit of a cynical way of looking at it, but if you have a MySpace or Facebook account, why'd you get one? Because you had some friends who were using it. And once you're sick of it, why do you keep logging in? To see what your friends are up to, of course.

In other words, a sense of community and shared experience drives revenue, because it keeps users coming back. And for sites like Twitter, Digg, Flickr (why do dot-coms have the stupidest names ever?) it's pretty clear they wouldn't be big hits without that element. But what about MMOs?

I played MapleStory; I still play it, sometimes. I'm not enormously fond of action gaming on a keyboard; I could never become accustomed to it, and maybe that's the reason my patience for MMOs is fairly limited. As far as I'm concerned, my PC gaming career was point-and-click from the time I was, like, five (yay for HyperCard) so keyboarding still feels archaic and cumbersome to me. I suppose that could be remedied by getting a USB controller, but I just don't care all that much.

And that's the problem. I think that the community element that could really drive an MMO is still not bulls-eyed yet; I don't care, because most MMOs I have played still feel a lot like any old-school RPG to me -- only more skeletal, because of the open-ended world and the lack of a presiding narrative. It's grind and gather, and it tends to bore the hell out of me. The variable element is supposed to be the presence of others; you and the others are supposed to create your own story. But all that really ends up happening, in general, is that you don't grind alone. You form teams not to create a story, but to grind more effectively.

I know that for, say, WoW loyalists, they feel rather connected to their guildies and consider them friends. We hear a lot about how some people can talk to their cohorts in MMOs more than they can to their friends. But there seems to be a disconnect there -- you're fostering a social relationship based on your real life, your real identity, whether you're just being friendly or you're confessing your life's secrets, your problems with your girlfriend or your favorite kind of beer. All of that, against a backdrop of elves, orcs, monsters and mysterious artifacts? Why do the social relationships in MMOs seem primarily strategic, a function of your gameplay style? Is it because despite all the attention paid to this "exciting new" 3-dimensional connected reality, people don't really want to escape all that much?

I don't mean roleplaying per se, because I know there are plenty of people doing that on designated servers -- though I confess it surprises me that they're in the minority. What I'm saying is, with an MMO there is the opportunity for users to literally build an entire story of their own together; there are no limits on what they can design. And yet primarily, it's team up, kill things, sell loot, repeat. It's either that, or they don't talk much at all because they're busy -- wait for it -- playing the game. Seems to me there's a lot of lost opportunity there.

I think that if socialization and gaming were hybridized a bit more fluidly, then we might have that truly lifelike, compelling and immersive gaming experience we all keep saying we want. What do you guys think?

Leigh Alexander,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So I'm pretty sure you all should be giving thanks to Nekro. For he is the one true perfect being. Be thankful that your lives have been blessed by the addition of a Nekro. For that is the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Happy Thanksgiving Dtoid! Here's hoping you didn't fall off a chair while hanging Christmas lights and bash your shin and foot into the concrete like I did!
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
Listening to Pokémon SoulSilver OST while doing some college work. Suddenly I feel a great amount of guilty taking over me for loosing my PokéWalker 2 years ago... :(
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Ok you thanksgiving motherfuckers. 5 favourite Arcade games (as in coin-op) No order necessary. Go!
Lawman avatarLawman
Happy Turkeygeddon everyone! I'd like to spend it playing something, but I'm too busy drinking instead. Alcohol is better. Alcohol mixed with games is best, but unfortunately, I'm a little too lost to the world for that right now!
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I've got to try Pocket God vs. Desert Ashes. Mostly because I loved pocket god when it came out. Great memories
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I intended to say something important and relevant to how pretty Atelier Shallie Plus looks on the Vita but then I got this annoying sudden nosebleed [img][/img]
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Time for Thanksgiving dinner, then more Shantae! [img][/img]
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
So Macy's parade had that performance from "The Wiz" which made me realize I'd much rather have seen "The Wizard" where everyone is dancing around wearing power gloves. Come on Nintendo, THE TIME IS NOW!
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Happy #Darksiders2 day-I mean Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Shinta avatarShinta
Transformers Devastation PS4 - $24. The Order 1886 $10. Digital flash sale on PSN. I think I'm going to have to bite on both these. And I hate digital if I can avoid it ...
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Remember folks, don't forget to smoke cigarettes in between courses during thanksgiving to help in digestion.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
For friends in UK that want a 3DS XL - 99.99 pounds [url][/url]
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Playing New Vegas again because reasons, it occurs to me that it'd be nice if Old World Blues gave me the option to move the Brotherhood of Steel to the Big MT instead of wiping them out for Mr. House.
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Near heart attack as for a minute it seemed like the A button of my 3DS was busted. It's fine now though, I think we'll live.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
There's now a £4/$5 Raspberry Pi. So cheap it's a cover extra on the latest Mag Pi. Based on the original chipset, it's single core but clocked at 1Ghz so it's quite a bit faster and oh so tiny. I can't wait to see what folks build with it.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
After a lifetime of not spending a single cent on FTP games, I finally broke and dropped €1 in the Nintendo Badge Arcade. I just had to have all the Luigi badges asap. I feel dirty. Plus side, my 3ds will be covered in Luigi.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
The postman just brought me gifts i bought for myself ... [img][/img] [img][/img]
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Umm.. no Microsoft. Where is the 'go away' button? [img][/img]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I tried driving as Uber last night to start supplementing my income and everyone so far has been super chill. Also, I started practicing in my sleepy small home city so the training wheels were still on. No big city bar hoppers just yet.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -