Joystick: Finally! A chance to explore the world

Published 10:07 am Thursday, September 26, 2013

Until recently, I had never played a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. I had never been part of the World of Warcraft craze, and while I remembered games like Lineage and Everquest, they were games I would play at someone else’s house.

I never had the ability to play those games, you see. My family had dial-up Internet throughout high school because my parents were comfortable with it, and I didn’t receive my own computer — a laptop, unsuitable for hardcore gaming — until college.

That’s why I was so excited to play “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.” Like thousands of other people, I was thrilled to have a game I could play on my Playstation 3 that would connect me to hundreds, if not thousands, of players across North America and the world.

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Let me tell you: playing MMOs is equal parts wonderful and terrifying.

I’m amazed at the amount of stuff one can do in an MMORPG like “FFXIV: ARR.” There are so many sidequests, dungeons and lands to explore, it never feels like I have conquered the game. Joining a guild — or free companies, as they’re known in the game — is also a great experience, as I have a built-in pool of players to quest with whenever our needs align.

Questing with others is an immensely rewarding experience as well. It’s always a treat to find a cool room or overwhelming enemy and watch everyone react in a similar fashion. Partying with others can be quite rewarding in-game and outside, as well.

Yet for every positive aspect of an MMO, there’s always a few malicious players ready to ruin the experience for everyone. There have been several times I have played through a dungeon with an exasperated player who seemed unwilling to help the party out, or unwilling to teach others how best to play through an area.

Player interaction can get ugly as well. I’ve seen several parties break because members had arguments over petty things, like who got what treasure and whether someone healed properly, among other things. The same sort of language you’d expect to hear in “Call of Duty” is used, with relish, in MMOs at times. I couldn’t defeat one boss for weeks because my party members didn’t get along well enough to perform their roles, and we suffered for it.

The genre is still popular in spite of this, however. People enjoy coming together for a cause, and MMOs provide a great backdrop for social interaction, provided people play in moderation.