Gamer Interrupted: Are you a Funsucker?


Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs. Well, it used to be each week... and then stuff happened -- lots of stuff that made things go out of balance. But that just means more stuff to write about here... weekly.

Recently, the Spousal Unit and I got into an argument over this article about Blizzard's Naming Policy enforcement. In this post, WoW Insider's Daniel Whitcomb asks why Blizzard must be informed of every instance of a name like "Longjohnson", before they will enforce their policy on each one. I say people who blatantly name themselves against the policy are ruining the game immersion and are sucking other people's fun. The Spousal Unit says that the real Funsucker is the person who reports the name, unless he or she plays on an RP server. He says people who name themselves after pornstars and genital euphemisms are just having fun and that people who talk about game immersion are taking themselves too seriously. I say that I play games to escape from the latest train wreck and don't want to see a version of her name on a Blood Elf Rogue when I'm bringing up an alt.

The problem here is a difference in opinion of what fun is. We play MMOs to have fun (and relieve stress and escape), but when we are playing with a massive number of other players, the many views of what fun is can and do clash. So the question is, should we care about other people's fun when we are having our own? In my opinion, your "right" to have fun, in-game or out, ends as soon as you start infringing on someone else's fun. But this rule can't be strictly applied because some people's fun may not fit into the scope of the game... or reality. I've tried to come up with some basic guidelines as to when we should worry about someone else's fun and when it's OK not to without being a Funsucker.

Are you seriously impeding someone else's gameplay?
In WoW, it is expected that Horde questing out of Tarren Mill are going to get thumped. A lot. But there's a difference between ganking an easy target while on your way somewhere and camping some poor level 24 with your level 70 and friends. If your fun is making someone have to logoff until you leave, then you are a Funsucker. If you are only killing random lowbies as revenge for when you were fodder and then moving on, then you are just contributing to the atmosphere.

Are you destroying the immersion or just bending it a little?
Everyone except for hardcore RPers bends the immersion of the game a bit. Just the term PvP when appearing in a game reminds you that you are a Player versus another Player. I can chalk up dodgy gameplay and functionality to Nanotech or Magic, but a lot of in-game text erodes the immersion for me in most games. That's the fault of the developers. But when players name themselves after a U.S. politician, then they are contributing to the erosion. WoW is so huge and has so many first time MMOers that there is very little respect for game immersion on anything except for some RP servers. In games that don't segregate Roleplayers from Non-Roleplayers, you are less likely to be made fun of if you speak in character and have emotes. And of course there is context. Funsucker is a great name for a Supervillain, but doesn't belong at all in LoTRO. This is a touchy area because of the "LOL RP" faction vs. the folks who say "m'lady", but in general, if your name works for the virtual world in which you play, then you are guaranteed not to suck anyone else's fun. If you must have a character named Longjohnson, play Hellgate: London or some FPS.

Have you paid real money for your virtual fun?
Except for games that run on RMT, buying Gold, Influence, etc. supports spammers, botters and hackers. Those spammers you hate when you go into Atlas Park? You paid them to be there, if you bought Influence outside of Paragon City. Regardless of the dangers of getting your account hacked, banned or both, you are seriously sucking the fun of most players in the game.

Would you do it in real life?
Of course you wouldn't actually hump a corpse -- we all hope. But do you shout out taunts when participating in real life competitions? Most people do and it is part of the fun. Friendly and even not-so-friendly razzing is considered socially acceptable when playing sports and other "normal" (non-geek) games. Basically, if the real life equivalent doesn't suck people's fun then neither should the corresponding in-game action.

Leisure time is important for keeping balance in our otherwise stressful lives. While sucking other people's fun may relieve your stress, it increases other people's. I'm a firm believer in treating other people the way you want to be treated. I think, if you do, you are less likely to have your leisure time marred by someone else's idea of fun and you also are leading by example. Besides, there are many different games and areas within games where you can get your grief on without really being a Funsucker. I am extremely fond of the Battlegrounds in WoW, for example. There you can work together to trounce the other team or you can follow your own selfish agenda by hunting the same noob all over the map. I don't find the latter very fun and being on the receiving end certainly sucks, but you don't have to collect your body and the game will come to an end relatively soon, so you're not stuck in a bad situation.

We all get enough stress in the rest of our lives without having to deal with it during our leisure time. It isn't your responsibility, of course, to make sure everyone is having fun. They are responsible for their own enjoyment, just like you are for yours. But it's a good idea to remember that other players are human beings, too, and not just pixels on your screen. In game, just like in life, we all need to respect each other's differences. There will always be people who are just looking for things to complain about, and there's nothing you can do about them. But, with a little consideration, you can make sure that your fun doesn't suck someone else's and increase the chance that others won't suck yours.

Robin Torres juggles multiple characters across multiple MMOs, two cats, one preschooler, one loot-addicted husband and a yarn dependency. After years of attempting to balance MMOs with real life, Robin lightheartedly shares the wisdom gleaned from her experiences. If you would like to ask Robin's advice or if you have a story you wish to share, please email Robin.Torres AT weblogsinc DOT com for a possible future column.

This article was originally published on Massively.