Social interaction in gaming can be tricky, especially when you add in the unknown factor of a pick-up group. We talked a bit about this in this week's Flameseeker Chronicles, and Attrezzopox had some great words of wisdom on turning social interaction into an almost universally positive experience:
I think it's very possible to have very good friends in an MMO. I know lots of people who have created lasting friendships, relationships, and even marriage after meeting in game. The same rules apply that would apply in a bar, library, school, etc.
Real friends do more than one thing together, share interests in multiple areas, etc. It's entirely possible to use the game as a meeting point to discuss things other than the game. It happens every day, all the time, to the majority of MMO players.
I agree with all of your rules except this one. Don't ever think what you're doing in an MMO means anything; it doesn't. Provided you follow pretty basic social rules, you can create lasting friendships in game, and those do mean something.
Aside from that, if you play the game the way it was meant to be played, you pick up some problem-solving skills. If you play the game socially, you pick up teamwork and social skills. It's been proven that they can help build self-esteem. Over time this builds up and spills into real life. I know therapists who use games as a way to help their patients gain self-respect. The trick is fixing enough things in real life that that mentality can transfer over.
There's a web series that's building to that called The Guild; I suggest you watch it. Stress relief is more important than people would like to believe. Games can help significantly with this. I would say: Don't forget your real life responsibilities, food, friends, family, and finances. Do a real-life raid every once in awhile. Take a break from the game and do something challenging in real life.
Business models and gaming decisions are always a hot topic here on Global Chat; even in game-specific stories, the conversation can easily spin off into an industry-wide debate on the decisions developers make. There are always some interesting points of view, Space Cobra
jumped in this week after Brandon's Captain's Log column
I hope that, in the future, when Klingon content gets sorted out, the devs will lower the bar/level for new player entry. Again, we need more Klingons. I also hope that the game does well enough for a third faction, and I hope that would be the Romulan faction (and eventual fourth faction faves of Cardassian).
I also hope they incorporate the wilder species, like Tholians, et al. Brandon, your comment on Star Trek fans who are resistant to sub for the game is an interesting and correct notion I'd forgotten; I've noted many gamers interested, but not interested enough for a sub. But yes, I've forgotten about the non-gamer fans, and this should speak volumes.
I remember back in College, in one of the Anime clubs we started, we tended to work with the same notion of a drug dealer: "Your first 'hit' is free, but you gotta pay if you want more." We gamers forget that there are still many people who are just resistant to games for whatever reason and it is easy for them to not bother trying it. If one game lowers their barriers and addresses their small complaints, it should be easier to get them hooked.
Thinking more about it, Cryptic and PWE should think about going to straight-up sci-fi cons and Star Trek-specific cons and bring some workstations. They also should advertise small contests with prize packs or just something for trying out the game, like a t-shirt or Star Trek novel. These should not be hard-core contests and probably should occur about twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday and should account for beginners (probably three or four levels/ranks).
For beginners, a helper/guide should be around to help them with the game. You don't even have to do a contest, just give good free swag for trying the game at the con. I'd prefer an isolated server just for the con. Anyway, my two cents (I really should go back into the STO forums and post this idea...).
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