Home » Relationships

Category: Relationships

MMORPGs – The Power of Community

By their very nature, MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) tend to foster community. Everquest, World of Warcraft, Rift, and Guild Wars, to name just a few of the many available, have groups, raids, and guilds built into the games. Those three aspects are just a part of the community, too. Outside of the games, people often build fan sites for their favorite MMO, numerous forums (official and unofficial) are available, and so on.

In game, groups are formed with similar goals in mind, such as leveling up or completing a specific quest. Raids are formed around multiple people and/or groups wanting to take on a specific dungeon. The thing about raids is there is often a heavy investment in them. Not only do you have to prepare for the raid by meeting certain requirements (level, equipment, etc.), but the raid itself is often a heavy time investment, with some raids lasting several hours.

Due to the level of commitment, you tend to see many of the same people raiding, and so the raiders get to know each other over time. With the commitment that’s generally required for raiding, it isn’t for everyone. Personally, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve done a raid. And I’m talking about a history of nearly 2 decades (my first MMO was Everquest in 2000) across multiple games. If raiding isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of other community fostering options.

Guilds tend to be another big in-game community. Unlike raids, guilds aren’t necessarily built around a specific goal. They tend to be more like resource pools, where individual players come together to look for and offer assistance to one another. Looking for a partner or group to level up with? Need help with a specific quest or looking to help others with their quests? Have a raid planned or want to join a raid? The guild can usually help with any of these, especially larger guilds. And sometimes, people are just looking for a hangout place and want to talk to others. Guilds are a great place for socializing, too.

Outside of the games, fans of the games create sites to display their enjoyment of the game and provide info for others. Forums are filled with comments on a variety of topics. Discord, TeamSpeak, and the like are filled with players chatting about and coordinating in the various games. And some games have dedicated conventions where people physically congregate in order to share in the hobby and games they so love.

All of this points to community and the power thereof. An individual will generally level and gain gear slower than if in a group. And when enough individuals group together to form a raid, they can overcome the challenges that are generally impossible for any individual or smaller group. Guilds pool their knowledge and resources to help one another. Massive database sites are filled with data entered by players, expanding the collective knowledge of the games. With the amount of information in MMOs, and the changing nature of them, this task would be next to impossible for someone to do alone.

You get the idea. Community in MMOs allow the players to do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do alone. Or it cuts down on the time to do tasks they could otherwise do solo. Such is the power of community. And this is a valuable lesson for almost any activity we engage in.

In workplaces and organizations, more people allow you to accomplish more work. Factory and assembly line workers have been doing this since the industrial revolution. Farmers have been working communally for thousands of years. Non profit organizations can accomplish far more than an individual can when people come together and pool their resources (time, finances, skills, etc.).

Far more can be accomplished by a community than an individual. That being said, it still comes down to each individual doing their part to help. As the saying goes, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, community has a multiplicative, rather than additive, effect.

With all that’s going on in the world today, especially with all the disasters that have occurred over the last couple weeks, there’s never been a greater need for community. Hurricanes have ravaged the Caribbean, the southeastern United States, and Mexico. Not only is Mexico dealing with the hurricane, but the southern part of the country was hit with a major earthquake and dozens of powerful aftershocks. Asia and parts of Africa have experienced major flooding due to heavy rains. All of these disasters have cost thousands of people their homes, but worse yet, it has cost hundreds their lives.

We need community more than ever. Much like a raid working together to take down a major boss, or a guild pooling its resources for the benefit of everyone, we need to work together as a community to help those in need. There are plenty of options for giving right, and everyone has their own opinions on the various organizations available, so I’m not going to link to any specifically. A quick search will give you dozens of options to help those in disaster zones.

The disasters occur over a short time, yet will affect peoples’ lives for years to come. And it’s not just in disasters that we need community. Every day, there are opportunities for community and growing together. Sometimes it’s in a duo and sometimes through a group. Other times it’s through a full raid or even an entire guild. No matter the size, community will help you grow individually, which in turn helps the community grow.

The power of community is in individuals doing their respective parts together, contributing to the greater good. As individuals in a game level up, the community (group, raid, guild, etc. – whatever the size) grows stronger and more capable. The same is true in life. As people grow individually, they can contribute more to the communities they are part of.

Give when you can. Ask for help when you need it. We can do far more together than we’ll ever do alone.

The Legend of Zelda – It’s Dangerous To Go Alone

Every fan of the original The Legend of Zelda knows the line, “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” On the very first screen, a lone cave entrance stands out from the rest of the view. When you walk inside, you’re met by an old man who says that line and gives you a wooden sword. Talk about humble beginnings for Link.

On the surface, it’s a casual statement meant to give Link the right tool for the job. I’m going to skip that, though, and take a deeper look at the statement and how it applies to life and relationships. There are better examples of getting the right tool for a given job, so I’ll save that for a later post.

It's dangerous to go alone

Let’s dive into that statement and look at it as a metaphor. In life, “it’s dangerous to go alone.” People are meant to be in relationship with one another. Let’s start with a job analogy, using a large department store. In order to make the store run, you need cashiers, people to stock the inventory, people to handle payroll, people to handle the bills, and so on. You get the idea. Without all those people, the store wouldn’t function properly.

Can a store be run by a single individual? Sure, people do it all the time (especially online). But those stores can’t grow very big. As soon as a store gets demand for more than a few personally handcrafted pieces, more people will be required to grow. Even sourcing out products requires other people – somebody has to make the products.

Here’s another example. I’m a programmer. I developed this website. I also know my weakness is artistic design. So instead of trying to create some mediocre designs, I had an idea and passed the idea to someone else who is far more talented than me in that area. Even though the development of this site was my own work, I didn’t do the entire thing alone. I brought in help for the areas I couldn’t cover.

Now, let’s look at the relationship level. As I said, people are meant to be in relationship. The old man may have given Link a sword to start with along with a casual statement, but as we’ve touched on already, it’s a solid piece of advice. In one sense, Link went through much of his journey alone. However, he met others who helped him along the way, and ultimately, Zelda. In the end, after Link rescued Zelda, it was through their companionship (they each held separate parts of the triforce) that peace was restored to Hyrule.

Let’s apply that idea to life now. When people are alone for long periods of time, it can be literally dangerous. Several studies point to the negative effects of long term loneliness and isolation. Increased rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, more frequent illnesses, and higher mortality rates are just a few of the effects of loneliness and isolation. What’s worse is that these dangers can come from perception alone – if a person feels lonely or socially isolated, they are just as likely to develop the same symptoms as someone who is physically isolated.

In those cases of loneliness, whether perceived or not, it’s easy to spiral into depression. As far as perception goes, it really is easy to feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by people, especially in today’s social media crazed world filled with many acquaintances but few real friendships. Don’t get me wrong, social media definitely has it’s merits, but as far as our mental, personal, and spiritual health goes, it’s far better to have five close friends than it is to have 500 shallow acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

During the many alone times of Link’s travels, he was in constant danger from monsters. Yet he found moments of refuge and healing from fairies who gave magical healing, old women who sold him medicine, friendly monsters who gave hints, and so on. Like Link in those times where he met friendly people and creatures, our general well being is enhanced by, and to a certain degree dependent on, real relationships.

In the Bible, shortly after creating man, God said “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18a, NIV). Relationship is one of the core tenets of the Bible. The stories and principles given teach the benefits of positive relationships. There are even warnings about toxic relationships, but that needs its own post to really dive into.

As gamers, we have a unique social position in the world. I’ve seen a variety of relationships form because of games and the gaming culture. I’ve witnessed friendships, and even some rivalries, born in old arcades. I’ve watched relationships develop from simple acquaintances in a guild/clan to deep friendships and even marriages.

Game stores that offer community events are an excellent place to meet other gamers and find a community. Sure, it can be intimidating (or downright scary) to talk to someone you don’t know, but when they’re done right, those events and communities are incredibly welcoming.

If you’re feeling lonely, do what you can to find healthy companionship. Everyone needs a friend. Everyone needs people around them to encourage them. Everyone needs people to help them up when they are down.

It’s dangerous to go alone.