Gamer Girlie

MMO Community Life – General Chat Trolls

The act of playing a video game is supposed to be enjoyable. It’s relaxing to sit at your computer, or on your couch, or even in your bed and stare at a screen to unwind after a tough day. It’s what we look forward to when we’re at work or at school. Growing up, this was my way to relieve stress and to chill out. But I’ve found after years of MMOs, some people are finding less enjoyment and more frustration. And one of the reasons for this is having to deal with MMO communities.

Now I’m not one to pug a lot. I’m not huge on PVP, although I’ll try some arenas or battlegrounds. I’ll also try my hand at pug groups for instances if I really have a drop I want to obtain. But I always go in with a grain of salt, especially for instances, because I know there are ninjas and people who are only grouping up to make someone else’s life miserable. I also dread saying anything in General chat because I know I’m bound to get some obscene responses and to be ripped apart for asking a simple question.

I’ve also become more involved with forums lately in numerous MMO communities and I’ve found that this is quite the growing concern. General chat has been unbearable in a game like World of Warcraft for years now, and there are many MMO communities following close behind. So I did a little experiment on a Friday afternoon. Keep in mind that each question I asked was on a different toon. Also I asked each question in a dark side major city and on PVP servers (if applicable) with at least 15 minutes in between each question.

My first experiment was to write “Happy Friday everyone!” in general chat with Toon #1. Here are my responses:

EverQuest 2: “Hell yea!” “Every day is friday if you work for the gov” “is it Friday? I dunno…don’t wear a watch…not since I retired 20 yrs ago”
Lord of the Rings Online: “happy friday” “Happy Friday!” “word. I’m gonna get you high man”…okay? Not what I was expecting to see.
World of Warcraft: “stfu”…okay? Thanks. Nice people here. Other than that, *crickets*.
Star Wars The Old Republic: *crickets*…tons of people on, no responses. Apparently no one’s happy that it’s Friday? Or could it be that they’re in the middle of a “troll” debate?

My second experiment: “Can anyone help me with a quest real quick?”

EverQuest 2: “no”
Lord of the Rings Online: someone immediately invited me to fellowship. “what do you need?” from someone else in a tell
World of Warcraft: *crickets*. I see you all running around me. Why don’t you answer?!
Star Wars The Old Republic: after about a minute, a tell comes through. “which one and where?”, then a group invite from someone else. How nice!

My last experiment was to write “I’m broke and need some money…can I borrow from anyone?”

EverQuest 2: “Me, with a 1000% interest rate :P” “I have a lot of plat but you can’t borrow any”
Lord of the Rings Online: “where are you?” in a tell, then I see a mail message. Someone else mailed me 12g as soon as I asked for money.
World of Warcraft: “no” “go **** yourself” then a tell from someone asking how much I need, and a trade with someone giving me 5g. That’s somewhat positive…
Star Wars The Old Republic: “no” “go do dailies” then some disgusting stuff I’d rather not post. But someone did call me a moron!

Okay, so I think it’s safe to say this has proven a few major points. My first question is why are the nice people so afraid to respond in general?! They’re nice! Every single time someone offered to help me either with money or the quest, they responded through a tell, a mail message or just traded with me. And every time someone was mean, it was through general chat.

My second question is why does Lord of the Rings Online have such a better community than anywhere else? Yes, there are hidden gems in each game. People who care are hiding amongst the masses. But other than one weird reply, everything I typed in lotro was responded to and handled nicely. My problem with lotro is the lack of new content. You feel like you’re playing the exact same game over and over again, despite your class. Even for someone like me who has a toon in every class, nothing is new. Nothing ever changes. The only thing to look forward to anymore are the festivals, and even those are basically the same.

But the community is what makes Lord of the Rings Online worth playing. There must be something about little hobbits drinking beer and harvesting taters that puts a smile on everyone’s face. Something mystical about an elf with their pointy ears and weird eyebrows that keeps people in a good mood. I find that all of these games are loaded with fantasy and with lore, but lotro just feels more like a role-playing game than the rest. And the lack of PVP, dare I say…maybe it’s a good thing. Something about being a lowbie and knowing you’re never going to get ganked can be a good feeling. On a PVP server you never know when someone is going to come up to you and destroy your character’s face. Then they cause you grief for the next 3 hours, sitting on your corpse and waiting for your respawn. In Lord of the Rings Online, the little hobbits don’t have to worry about that.

Speaking of role-playing, I’ve heard that RP servers are much better with their communities than PVP servers. Maybe that’ll be a good idea for another experiment someday, to see how much nicer RP servers really are. I’ve also noticed that the community has changed dramatically since Free to Play came out in all of these games. It brings in a younger group which usually takes the blame for communities going to hell. But I have met some players under 18 who have been really nice people, and they automatically get labeled as annoying due to their age. I’ve spoken to numerous people about this topic, and all have agreed that most of the annoying people they’ve had problems with in General chat are usually in their 20’s or 30’s. Unless they were lying, of course.

Despite all of this, MMO communities are changing continually and I feel like it’s for the worse. It seems that when a game is difficult or when a game is new, we’re all noobs and the playing turf is fair. People are happy to help each other with quests and answer “stupid” questions. No one has an overinflated ego because we’re all just beginning. No one has better gear than anyone else, and no one’s high enough level to grief you all day.

If only communities could stay like this, we would all be much better off. Playing MMOs would be relaxing again. We would all have amazing gear because no one would rage quit and people would help each other. Or if these nice people who I found today could say these nice responses in General chat, maybe that could turn the tides a bit and the jerks will be quiet for once. I understand this is just the tip of the iceberg. And I know that, no matter where you are in life, you’re always going to run into these types of people. Even though there may only be 3 of them out of 100, they are the ones that need to be heard, and need to put other people down to feel better about themselves. If the helpful people could grow a bigger voice, maybe this wouldn’t be such a hopeless battle. Maybe these MMO communities could become a positive environment.

Or maybe video game developers will put hobbits and taters into every game. That might make gamers happy.


  • Vayrn says:

    I agree! I’ve been playing Lotro for a couple of years, never really had a “high level” char – until now. I been in a few kinships over the years, and I feel people go “ughhhh” if I ask for help for ONE quest. Or just about advice related to ingame stuff.

    I started out in SWG when at release, I liked the community there. People were polite, helped out and talked to you. WoW and SWToR isn’t as fun, because people are rude,

    I like Lotro alot, because I have the option to just hang out. Smoke some pipeweed, travel, explore. I find very few people that like the same things, even guilds that are into that.

  • exploderator says:

    I think you really nailed it when you noticed that LOTRO lacks PvP. I don’t have any experience in any other MMO’s, but just in the microcosm of LOTRO I notice that the bad attitudes often come with the competitive crowds, where someone has to be better than someone else, and that shows up the most in PvP crowds in LOTRO.

    I also think it really helps that in many ways, LOTRO is very deliberately designed to reward cooperation, including the recent change to “open tapping” where everyone that helps a kill at all gets their own full loot from the kill, completely removing any competition or loss from working together. There is nothing to gain by competing with anyone, and everything to gain by cooperation with everyone, so eventually people who are unhelpful and unkind just isolate themselves and look like fools. I call that brilliant game design, and I hope that such good philosophy gets noticed and spreads, because the repercussions are what make the difference between having game communities mired in petty BS attitudes, and game communities that are a genuine pleasure, good for the soul.

  • Jesella says:

    Great post! I have started out in LOTRO, switched to SWTOR and now i’m back to LOTRO. I was always treated so rudely in Star Wars..glad It wasn’t just me. It is really a shame because I prefer the actual content of SWTOR, but the community is just awful. I would rather run circles in a field with friends.

  • Gamer Girlie says:

    I appreciate all of your comments!

    I have noticed that when a game is fresh and new, the community seems to be much better. When I started SWTOR, it was friendly and everyone wanted to help each other level. People would ask for help with quests and wouldn’t get put down in general chat. And there wouldn’t be hours of nonstop fighting, bickering and criticism while you were on the starter planets and the fleet.

    I’m not sure if it’s due to the F2P aspect or if it was destined to become this bad. It makes me not want to play the game anymore. I find myself back in Lotro, trying to find something to entertain me even though the new content isn’t really my style. My favorite part of an MMO is leveling characters and now that I have about 30+ toons it’s getting boring. But honestly, it’s worth trying to stick it out because the community is so fantastic.

    I had a craving to go back to EQ2 and give it another go, but after doing this little “community test” I decided that’s the last thing I needed. The people there were almost as rude as the ones in WoW. It’s sad because it wasn’t always this way.

    I think one of the reasons Lotro is so resistant to this inevitable breakdown of a community because of its RPG feel. People get lost in the lore and the quests, and most people play it because they love the series of books or movies. It’s that love that makes keep people playing, despite its downfalls. And I think it’s that love that we see daily in the community…people helping each other and really trying to help each other get better. And the fact that there isn’t real PvP. There’s no competition…nothing happens if the person next to you is a better player than you are. That better player will come and save you in the quest you can’t finish, or lend you a hand with some gear or some money.

    That’s why I felt like I had to write this post. People in the Lotro community and Turbine should be proud of themselves for creating such a warm and inviting atmosphere. And for the people in SWTOR, WoW and EQ2…I know not everyone is bad and that some people do want to be friendly and help out. The nice people just need to stick up for the little guy a little more and maybe these jerks will quit bullying.

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