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Behind the Curtain: Are we having fun?

Craig Withers

Well, it all kicked off over on WoW Insider the other day, didn't it? You couldn't move for all the handbags being thrown around in the comments! Who'd have thunk it? Don't worry, I kid because I care.

The thrust of the argument SLASH discussion was whether or not we should be tracking raid progression any more. It got me thinking. Not about raid progression exactly; about how different people approach MMOs and the content they offer; about how different people find 'fun' in different playstyles.

Here at Behind the Curtain, I've shared my opinions on the Hardcore vs. Casual issue previously. To recap, I'm of the opinion that the difference between the two states, if it even exists, is in the goals one sets for oneself.

Taking that line of thinking further, I began to think about fun. 'Fun' is a nebulous concept, difficult to pin down and pretty damned different for almost everyone in the world. Wikipedia currently defines fun as, "the expenditure of time in a manner designed for therapeutic refreshment of one's body or mind" which seems like a bit of a mouthful, to be honest.

Currently, my World of Warcraft character has 45 mounts in her stable, leaving her 5 short of the Leading the Cavalry achievement. Hitting the 50 mark means she'll be rewarded with a Albino Drake flying mount. Even reaching 45 mounts required some dedicated time spent running around completing low-level quests for the starter races in WoW. I'm now spending half an hour each day travelling from Northrend to Outland to run the few daily quests which increase my reputation with the Sha'tari Skyguard. On reaching Exalted status with them, I'll have my final 5 mounts.

I'll bet that doesn't sound like much fun to most people, does it? I'll admit that it's not really all that much fun for me either – running the same three quests, day after day is not particularly stimulating. So why do it? It's a question I struggle to answer, to be honest. Repeating the same three quests day after day isn't that much fun, in and off itself, if I'm honest. Setting myself that aforementioned goal helps get things done, but doesn't make the quests themselves any more enjoyable.

But is having a goal, or a prize at the end of a long, but admittedly not very hard, grind really fun? For me yes, it must be, otherwise I wouldn't be doing it. It's not going to be everyone's idea of fun though. Indeed, it sounds an awful lot like work.

People find fun in all different kinds of ways though. I tried EVE Online for a good long while, but found the learning curve to high for my solo style of playing. Note to self – if you must shoot rocks in space, convince real-life friends to join you. Serious raiding is hard work – regardless of your viewpoint stance vis-a-vis progression tracking – and not my idea of fun. Having a poke around Karazhan the odd time for poops and giggles is a world apart from Ensidia-style regimented raiding schedules.

Really, it all depends on your point of view. The thought of obtaining 5 mounts, let alone 50, may be too much for some to bear. Others might have a checklist of some the craziest, most hard to reach Achievements to work their way through.

What about you? Hit the comments and let us know where you find your fun in your MMO. Is the simple acquisition of wealth through questing enough for you? Do you need a hit of lore to make it through the day? Whatever 'fun' is for you, and however you get it, share it with the world.

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