If you play massive multiplayer games (mmo’s) at some point you will have encountered some kind of e-drama, a problem with a friendship, a problem with a patch change, a transaction between players, a guild event or change of leadership, griefing, exploitation or accusations of unfairness etc…..something that affects people enough to cause upset and commotion which overflows onto the general populace of indirectly affected people. Reading this, gave me the idea to write about it because I’ve seen things like this before often involving the mentioned game but it also applies to all mmo games and even some multiplayer games.

Many people scorn such drama, openly criticising those involved and claiming games would be better with less drama but I completely disagree. I admit sometimes the drama seems to be out of proportion to the event it is about and can seem to be a bit excessive or unnecessary to the point of making me roll my eyes and sigh. To me however, to have a community of people, friendships, rivalries, social etiquette and interaction on a mass scale and then not have drama is unthinkable. It is precisely because we as humans seek out interaction with others on some level that we play mmo games, there might be an unhealthy attention to solo play in mmo’s of late but the reason they are successful are not because players want to play alone. They can do that without paying a monthly fee or of late micro transactions.

Just like reading in the newspaper, watching it on tv or hearing some local gossip, hearing similar stories about events in your game world do several things. Firstly, they remind you that not all the crap in the world lands on you, it helps to put your gameplay/life into perspective. Secondly by hearing about other people it helps to make the world richer because not everything that happens in an mmo has to be handed to us by a game developer and trust me on this, the content created by players digitally physical or emotional is a significant amount of content in any online game.  Finally, hearing about other people can incentivize players to do things in-game, It could be simply discussing it with others, perhaps helping the unfortunate person, contacting them, exploiting them, befriending them or even just mimicking what got people talking about them. It all creates impetus for a player to do something that they had no thoughts or feelings on before it happened.

Without drama an online world becomes relatively lifeless and sterile, it’s the social interaction and politics we humans put into our characters, guilds, friends list and servers that makes our games more than the sum of its parts.   Sometimes the drama surrounds you and can be particularly painful, sometimes it doesn’t affect you at all but simply the fact you hear about it makes the world you are playing in more believable because you know other real people are affected by it.

So the next time you read about or experience  someone griefing, a guild leader making off with the guilds entire bank vaults worth of loot or spending hours to earn something a recent patch makes available to everyone quickly, don’t forget even the negative aspects of a world help to make that world more engaging, you can still hate it just don’t wish it away completely because without it, we may aswell be playing a single player game.