Danger: WoW comparison coming up...
As someone who's played both FFXI and WoW for an extended amount of time this is one of the things that I believe WoW got right and FFXI got wrong. IMO instances are a much better system that allows the greatest amount of people to access the largest amount of content.
I prefer NMs in the wild so to speak as random easter eggs you might come across that drop a nice gold nugget or something as opposed to a mob you have to gather 3-15 other people to sit in a some crowded area for hours with other groups while you all wait for a bot to claim some mob. An exaggeration of course but at the same time still dreadfully close to the truth.
I think you touched on this in another thread and I agreed with you there, so maybe it's redundant to throw in my hat yet again, but here I'm doing it anyway. I agree.
The point I do not agree on (you can relax your grip around your belt now) is that Computer Games are considered a more serious problem overall in Japan than in western countries. Sure, you have the occasional "Hikikomori" (those never-leave-my-room guys), and yes, they are in the media. But overall, gaming is by far more considered an appropriate passtime for an adult there than, well, where I live. But then again, I have little clue about the US.
Well, it's an issue in which few people have truly accurate perspective. Neither of us I presume have actually lived in Japan in recent years for a length of time, and while I read -about- the country pretty often and have had many interactions with the culture, I'm certainly no expert. So my impression is that it's treated as a more serious concern there (though not as much as some place like China or Korea). Here, the most national attention video games have ever really received were as a result of ol' disbar champion Jack Thompson's efforts. You're from... Sweden? The UK? Sorry if I missed it.
But while video games are not really popular here, "hikkikomori" are virtually unheard of.
The real irony here is that while FFXI is being held up and reviled as some kind of example of hardcore gaming, for it's time it was actually very casual.
I played a MUD (like an MMO, but all text, no pictures) named Merentha for quite a while. For reference, this game was made circa 1996, before EQ. And this game is still running free to play.
A death could set you back a week's worth of grinding. And you could almost literally be killed by anyone no matter how much stronger or weaker they were than you. If they were stronger, obviously, but if they were weaker, all they had to do was attack you. You would automatically attack in response and kill them. There would then be an automatic bounty out on you for your PK, and some high level player would come and kill you.
You would not only lose total XP towards your level, but in this game you level all your skills and stats individually with XP, and when you die, they all go down. Also, anyone can pick up all of your gear and money and you get to acquire those all over.
So I'm familiar with hardcore, and -hundreds- of people either enjoy this kind of game or are too broke/dumb to find a better game. Unfortunately the gameplay is also boring (but not really that much worse than FFXIs!) Yes, it can be much worse, but it can also be much better.
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...
Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.
Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.