Sunday, November 10, 2013

A long time ago in a big MMO

Once upon a time back in March, 2005 I subscribed to World of Warcraft and started questing. This was in the days of patch 1.3 before things like battlegrounds, fishing contests, and the Darkmoon Faire existed. Molten Core was the endgame instance and Diremaul was brand new. WoW was a little more than four months old at that point, so it was still early days.

Although I'd been a gamer for many years, WoW was my first MMO. As I approached level 20 I began to think about joining a guild so as to better experience the multiplayer stuff. I don't recall how I was recruited but I ended up a member of a large levelling guild on my server. It accepted anyone and everyone and most members were well below 60, the maximum level at the time.

The guild was very disorganized and although a couple of people could invite new recruits there were few officers online. As I began talking to other members I was surprised to find out that our GL (Guild Leader) was an absentee—although he was actually online and playing a lot, he was using another character which was a member in another guild.

Within a few days most of the guild members realised that the absentee GL was not only hurting the guild, but our experience of WoW. Because of his irresponsibility we weren't getting the full benefit of our subscription fee to WoW. Something had to be done.

Someone approached the GL about the situation. He offered to sell the guild to us for a rather large sum of gold. He was firm that a buyout was the only option.

Because the price of the buyout was far greater than the cost of incorporating a new guild (and tabard fee), we found his offer repugnant. In addition, we couldn't afford his high price.

However we could easily afford the fee of 10 silver to start a new guild. And so there was a massive mutiny where the majority of members quit the old guild and joined the new one. Back then you needed ten people to sign a guild charter, which we had, and soon the new guild was formed.

People really wanted a tabard and made getting it a priority. Choosing a tabard design in WoW costs 10 gold. It's hard to believe now with all the inflation in WoW, but back then raising 10 gold was a huge hurdle for us as we had only one or two level 60s. Many of us were below level 30 and were a long way from even getting our first mounts. (You got your first mount at level 40 back then, and mount costs were so significant that players often opted to play as Warlocks or Paladins due to receiving "free" mounts from quests rather than gold.) But we managed to scrimp together the 10 gold and were proudly wearing our new colors within a few hours after we formed the guild.

But this isn't a story about our new guild. This story is about the GL of the old guild.

You see, we found something out about the old guild's GL that influenced our decision to leave.

We knew that the old guild's GL was irresponsible in abandoning the first guild to play on another character in another guild. What we discovered was that the main reason for his behavior was that he was twelve years old.

Back then WoW was the hot new game that gamers of all ages were eager to play. Even though a subscription required a credit card, WoW still managed to have a fair number of younger players.

This isn't the case today. Even though 60 day pre-paid time cards can be purchased for cash in stores, nowadays you aren't as likely to run into a twelve year old when playing WoW or any other MMO.

It's not because of the changes that have been made to WoW over the years, or anything about WoW or any of the other MMOs.

There's one reason you don't see as many kids in MMOs these days:

They're all playing Minecraft.

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