Immersiveness – Inversely Proportional to Massiveness?

This started out as a reply to a post on Wolfshead online http://www.wolfsheadonline.com/?p=3809#45a10 but since I’m behind a proxy due to my country’s laws, and so can’t post comments there anymore… I’ve decided to plop my rant down here instead. =)

This poor little blog, it probably thought I would never love it again… but onwards!
Maybe immersion is a problem inherent in the *massive* genre. I’ve never been as immersed in any ‘massive’ graphical world as I was in MUDs (one in particular, many in general).

Perhaps it’s that the very ‘massiveness’ leads to a certain forgetfulness of what influence on the world means. In MUDs, because of their (generally) small playerbases, your ‘influence’ on the world… is your influence on the player community (say 30-80) people. And, unlike guilds, if you’re feuding, plotting, politicking, you’re doing it for more reasons than trying to get the next shiny piece of gear. More isn’t necessarily more virtuous. You may be doing any or all of those things because you’re jealous that X liked Y better than they like you. That X Is an Evil PvPer and you think PvP is STOOPIDZ. And so on, and so forth. But more IS richer.

What I’m trying to get across is that the *reasons* for doing things within the smaller worlds were richer (in my eye), because with smaller world, the communities and people were the ‘worlds’ that you influenced, and had an effect on. Not the empty slaying of some coded god for a pretty piece of gear.

It could be argued that guilds in MMOs present this ‘microcosm’ that I’m outlining… but they don’t. Not really. Because guilds, at least in a gear-stat-based system seem to tend to keep worshipping the God of Progression, to whom all must be sacrificed. Or at least, that’s the party line. Individual members may well just be in it for ‘I want moar shiny lootz.’

Perhaps I was just unlucky in MMOs, but I never, not once, got the feeling of ownership that MUDs give. The feeling that the things you do in the MUD, you do because you love your world. Because it makes your world, and its attendant community, a more wonderful place to be in. Because in spite of people you may not be able to stand in a said MUD, you desperately want your MUD to continue, and to flourish, because the loss of such a thing of beauty would be a personal tragedy.

After all my purple prose, (should you actually have read it all, poor you), I guess what I’m trying to say is – it isn’t just material goods and props and cute wolves chasing cuter bunnies that make a world immersive. It’s *people*. People whose opinions you care for, one way or the other.

Maybe in Massive-land and RL as well, that’s something very easy to forget in pursuit of the next superior shiny, and be the poorer for doing so.

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