Dear King Varian of Stormwind, please explain to me why I should leave the comfort of my beloved farmstead here in the rustic pastures of Elwynn Forest to fight in your endless war against the Horde? What have the Horde ever done to me, my family or my fellow villagers? Why should I deprive young Seth and Anne of a father and my faithful wife Susan a husband, all in the name of your unjust and pointless war?
I refuse to be a pawn of the aristocrats and nobles of Stormwind. I will not sacrifice my life for your or their misguided notion of glory.
Outlaw of Elwynn Forest
What you just read was a fictional account of how one of my characters in WoW would look at the prospect of going to war given the present situation in Blizzard’s Azeroth with the Alliance versus the Horde narrative. But that letter could also be directed to Tom Chilton of Blizzard, the current king and architect of the WoW PVP system.
For me, PVP in WoW has never really worked. Despite a myriad of gimmicks and enticements, I didn’t take the bait. The reason is very simple: Blizzard has never given me something really worth fighting for that I would want to go up against a fellow player and send them to the Twisting Nether. PVP in WoW is unconvincing, emotionless and contrived.
Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Part of the problem is the element of risk and danger has been removed from MMOs. Without the ability to fail and experience a sense of loss there can be no commensurate glory and honor. Victory without the chance of failure is a tasteless dish. What is the point of a sanitized world where there is no sting of death or parade of victory?
Today’s bland and meaningless PVP is symptomatic of that kind of thinking. It’s like playing poker for fake money. Without risk, how can there be any reward?
Today we play in safe, sterilized virtual worlds much like the playgrounds of most modern schools in America. Nothing can be stolen. No village can be burned down or built back up. Nobody ever really dies. Nothing ever rusts and nothing ever decays. Every day Mickey Mouse and friends respawn enter a pristine Disneyland. Honestly, aren’t you getting tired of playing that low stakes MMO every day?
What Films Could Teach MMO Developers
I remember the first time I watched Patton, Gladiator and 300. They were very powerful movies that made an impact on me. I bonded with the main characters in those films. After watching them, I daresay I was so pumped up I was ready to kick anyone’s ass if they looked at me the wrong way and I’m a peace loving person.
To those people that think immersion is really not important in MMOs look at the immersive power of those films I just mentioned. It’s really an immersion of emotions. That very same power could be used in a MMO to create enough of an emotional investment that would convince a person like me who’d rather be planting a garden than fighting a battle to get involved in PVP.
The best works of art make you feel. And yes a video game should make you feel something. Feelings are immensely powerful and great motivators. I would need the feeling of anger in order to do violence and it would be in self-defense or for some righteous cause that was worth fighting for.
There are many millions of people that don’t like PVP the way it is currently implemented in most MMOs and the result is that they simple don’t engage in it.
I am personally not looking for the ultimate PVP experience but the only way I could ever be convinced to do it was if it was made truly compelling beyond the epics for PVP reward scheme that currently exists in MMOs like WoW. Instead reward me in other ways with a virtual world full of drama and conflict that makes me speed down the highway to get back to my computer to log on to see what’s happening.
I’m going to say something that may shock some but here it is: the perfect MMO in my opinion would not be characterized as either PVE or PVP. It would have both elegantly and seamlessly interwoven with each other. But because of the conventional wisdom out there don’t expect this MMO to come out anytime soon.
Sadly, there are timid developers out there just content to keep making more games disguised as MMOs. They aren’t interesting in creating a riveting experience for their players; they just want to play it safe and keep producing more of the same mindless MMO amusement park content.
So until MMO companies can find the courage to create a dynamic virtual world that is so gripping, intense and visceral as to encourage player to participate against other players I and many countless others will remain on the sidelines of your phony cartoon “war”. Until such a time as you either allow me to create or obtain something worth fighting for, I will remain a PVP draft dodger.