So, in essence, a game is about giving the players a place to have fun, would you say?
That was possibly the most ridiculous question I've ever seen asked in a game related interview. That's like asking the CEO of Ford, "So, in essence, a car is about giving people a means of transportation, wouldn't you say?" It would have been an ok question if it were asked 30-40 years ago at the onset of gaming but asking it now is just idiotic...where on earth do these interviewers come from?
I read that question differently, or at least with the emphasis on a different word.
I think that if you read the question as:
So, in essence, a game
is about giving the players a place to have fun
, would you say?
Then yeah, it sounds like a dumb question. But consider it from a different perspective:
So, in essence, a game is about giving the players a place
to have fun, would you say?
Here's how I see it: With non MMORPGs, it's about the game providing you with an interface to enjoy yourself with. Just like Windows solitaire or a browser flash game, you are being entertained through a "form of entertainment".
By placing the emphasis on the word "place" instead of "fun", you come closer to what I see it as: With an MMORPG (a good one anyway), it's not about the game, it's about the place. It's a virtual world that you simultaneously exist in with other people, and the bulk of the fun comes not from the game itself, but from the people you play with.
If you've ever gambled socially or drank socially, you'll know what I mean; poker/craps/blackjack can only be so fun; it's rather boring after a while. But the conversations you carry on WHILE playing are the main part of the allure. "Poker night" isn't about playing poker, it's about people getting together and hanging out. Poker is just something they do. Same with social drinking; the alcohol is not inherently fun, you can't do anything in public with alcohol that you can't do in private, but it's the conversations and the socializing that make it fun. The drinking is just something you do.
I see MMORPGs in the same light; it's not that I'm playing a game with other people, it's that I'm with other people and we're all playing a game. That, for me, is why I don't have much fun playing a game I can solo most of, or playing a game that none of my friends play (or that I have no friends on).
In a single player environment, the popularity of a game is directly proportionate to how "fun" the game is. In a massively multiplayer environment, the "fun" factor of the game can exist independently of the "social" factor. It's the "place" that makes the game, not the "fun".
EDIT: Remember that for years, games were mostly single player. Multiplayer pretty much meant "Take turns playing". It wasn't till later that the concept of two people playing the same game at the same time took off (and it became wildly popular to bring your system over a friend's house because playing with someone else is almost always more fun than playing alone to most people). Note that in recent years, "solely single player" games have gone downhill with emphasis on online multiplayer, and MMORPGs taking off. In addition to the rise of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) compared to the early days of the internet (Geocities, Angelfire), one thing you can note is that lately, people don't care what they're doing, as long as they're doing it with someone else. I think that's probably one of the biggest selling points of things like Facebook and World of Warcraft: They're not advertising a product, they're advertising a place. "This is where everyone else is, you should be here too". When have any ads for WoW actually included anything game-related (other than a mohawk grenade?) To those that use Facebook, would you continue using the site if you were the ONLY one there and no one replied to you or commented on anything? How many MMORPGs would be even at all popular if they suddenly became single player?
That's the draw of social sites and MMOGs: It's not about the game providing the fun, it's about the place that has the people. The game is largely an afterthought to many. Edited, Jul 1st 2010 4:49pm by Mikhalia