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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.