I just realized that I have played Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games for just over ten years now. As I look back on this time, I realize some of the valuable lessons I have learned along the way.
The first is that I am an independent person. Although the second M in MMO stands for multiplayer, I usually don’t mind ignoring that and enjoying the single-player aspect of the game. I am not averse to groping and even enjoy playing with other people at times. In general, I prefer to just run my own speed and do things my own way.
Another lesson directly applies to fundamental economics, particularly the influence of supply and demand on the price of resources. Most MMOs have a market system for players to trade gathered resources. These resources help create items that are more powerful. The use of these items contributes to making a stronger character. There is always some kind of in-game currency you can use to purchase these items. In observing the market, I learned to buy low and sell high in order to enjoy an endless supply of currency.
My enjoyment of the market led to the creation of spreadsheets in order to evaluate what items sell most frequently and with the highest amounts of profit. These spreadsheets allowed me to analyze my profits and track the growth of my virtual bank account.
Each MMO I’ve played has an online forum where players can discuss various aspects of the game. People regularly complain about the high prices of items on the market despite the fact that currency isn’t difficult to come by if you take the time to play the market. But that is the problem: It takes time.
This led me to learn the importance of time management. While playing MMOs, there are so many different ways a player can spend their time. You can defeat enemies, collect resources play the market, participate in organized groups to defeat difficult tasks, or just socialize with other players. You have to set priorities and then do your best to accomplish as much as possible within a specific time frame.
I mentioned that one activity you can engage in within an MMO is group-based content. Group content has specific objectives that you work through with a group of four or five people. Such content is designed to be particularly challenging, with certain enemies that have abilities or mechanics that you have to figure out how to mitigate in order to defeat them. This fosters the need for problem solving and teamwork.
The last point I want to touch on is that I also like to participate in the online forums. Doing so provides an excellent resource when I need to research various aspects of the game and how I can become a better player. It also gives me a chance to share the things I have learned with those who don’t have as much experience in the game as I have. Part of making game time more enjoyable is helping less knowledgeable players grow and get better.
My love of MMOs continues to this day, and while it has taught me a lot that can translate into the real world, I wonder what the next 10 years might bring as games and technology evolve.