New to this World – Musings on MMO Tourism

When Kleps described a particular type of MMO tourist the other day, something about that label stuck with me even though I couldn’t feel further apart from such tourist mindset. Be it in MMOs or in general, I immensely enjoy new experiences and I’m a sucker for exploring strange lands and cultures which is no doubt partly due to very mixed heritage. I’m a traveler in real life as much as virtual worlds with quite a long list of countries that I’ve visited in my backpack (more to be added!). Had I been bestowed with substantial wealth from birth, I would probably have become a full time gipsy, releasing travel diaries or guides and shit…for free. The road is ever calling to me and those five weeks of annual holidays I get nowadays are sacred. Next summer’s trip is already greatly anticipated!

I’m a strong believer in that traveling is one of the most beneficial and eye-opening things we can do as human beings, something that will shape and educate your understanding (and hence respect) for other, different places and people more than any theory in a book or well-polished political speech ever could. It is humbling to be a guest in a strange country and be treated as a friend; to break bread with people who have no reason to offer you hospitality but share the little they have; to discover first-hand just how similar we all are despite all hyped cultural differences and outward appearances. To realize how much wealth and beauty is out there that the daily news never talk about. But this we can only learn by actually leaving our own doorsteps – you cannot smell the roses by reading about it in a book.

Yet, for all my personal inclinations, my love for travel, languages and cultures, I am still feeling a bit like a tourist in GW2 right now. Not the willfully ignorant tourist described further up, but a tourist in the sense that while GW2 is a truly immersive MMO with the most amazing world, there are moments when I feel more like a guest or even intruder, rather than somebody setting up his own home. I happen to know exactly why that is too.

So close and yet so far

I never played GW(1). I mentioned briefly once why I didn’t and I’m currently in very good company when it comes to people who skipped GW but are now invested in GW2. It’s not just the timing but the fact that the two MMOs are very different in many essential ways. GW2 is not exactly a “sequel” and yet, ANet have obviously conserved much of the world that was old Tyria for their faithful player base – the lore, characters, setting and atmosphere first and foremost.

That’s where my misgivings, which are completely self-fabricated (just to clear that up) come in though; it might sound bizarre but a part of me feels like I have no right to be here. I’m the newbie in Tyria and not just that, I am the player who didn’t support the first game, now showing up for its shinier, more mass-market successor. YIKES!

While the olde GW community is taking a sad goodbye from a game they called home for years, I get to enjoy the moment without any ambivalence felt. It’s great articles like that one or like Jeromai’s that remind me just how little I know about this world; how much there has been before and how I am unable to draw connections the way longtime GW players can. It’s also hearing a new ingame acquaintance (met during anonymous questing zomg!) talk about how she’s waited on GW2 for five years (I waited two to be fair) while being an avid GW player, and how disappointed she is in many respects because “GW2 is not like GW” (and where the fuck did the monk class go…). Which I can actually empathize with when seen from that perspective.

(She also mentioned that “coming from WoW or Rift, everything must seem really great of course”….I know there is an insult there somewhere!)

It just bothers me that I am likely missing a lot of details and hidden meaning while playing, even if much will get clearer in time. It bothers me too, that I simply cannot fully connect or give comfort to some players that are now in my own world but still feel strangely apart. They’ve been longer in Tyria than myself and I feel like they have much more right to it. Does that even make sense?? Ah well.

http://www.theparentreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Social-Anxiety-Disorder.jpg
“Hi, I’m new! Hope it’s alright if I join you guys!”

Sometimes I wonder how all the new, heightened attention for GW2 must feel to GW veterans right now – other bloggers like Hunter for example who have been dedicated to that game forever. What a bunch of enthusiastic party crashers we must look to them….

I am probably exaggerating at this point and frankly I wonder if I managed to explain my feelings very well. It’s all extremely silly in many respects, first and foremost because ANet surely want more players to enjoy GW2 than played GW, after having put seven(?) years into its development. I know that, trust me! Also, I’ve no resentment whatsoever towards GW veterans in case there’s any doubts – quite the contrary – and I don’t even know if they truly see the likes of me coming from other MMOs as party crashers or greenhorns or whatever (although I could understand if they did). It’s just….now that I’m immersing myself in Tyria with every intention not to stay a tourist for long, I’m a little sad that I missed its “past” – the history of that world others were there for. I’m clearly not used to not being “there from the start” for MMOs I consider a big deal, even if paradoxically I was there for bloody head-start (of doom).

There’s an intangible generation gap and a little bit of self-cringe for blundering into a world with such wide-eyed ignorance that other players are already familiar with. Gawd…I hope we are welcome here and don’t make too big fools out of ourselves in zone and party chats! Sigh.

15 comments

  1. I wouldn’t worry too much. I had simlar feeling about WoW when I first played, never having played any of the RTS iterations of Warcraft. I didn’t play GW either (too wrapped up in WoW). While there is always something cool about getting the “inside jokes” and references to the prior game, as you said, there is an awesome sense of wonder about exploring a place for the first time—even a virtual place.

  2. It’s a different game, not an expansion. Even in the case of expansions, I’d been in WoW since vanilla and I didn’t much mind new players. If anything it was neat to have them around, wandering about confused at all the various bits of design philosophy. “And over there we can see the early attempts at raids, based heavily on cleanse spam and if you look over there you’ll see the first attempt at heroics, which once required an exceptional reputation grind just to get inside.” I like having new players. It’s good to have the new ones, for whom all the New and Terrible is actually New and Great.

    1. It’s definitely nice to ride the all-great-for-now-wave and yeah, it’s a new game. I think the difference this time around though is while the game is new, the world isn’t. I never had the feeling of ‘missed past’ when playing WoW or Rift or even joining AoC or Allods a little after launch. in GW2 it feels more like two (at least) playerbases come together and the way we receive some aspects of GW2 very differently bespeaks that different background further. which isn’t to say that it must be a bad thing, of course that can be beneficial in the end.

  3. Pst, your other “bloggers like Hunter” link is still pointing to my blog. :)

    You’ve pretty much covered all the arguments and defenses here, so I don’t quite know what to say.

    Rest assured that you’re definitely welcome. As a lover of Guild Wars lore, who wouldn’t want another to start appreciating how deep the rabbit hole goes?

    Whyever would we want to keep it to ourselves, especially since all MMOs need fresh blood coming in all the time, else they’ll go the way of *sobs* City of Heroes?

    At the same time, it cannot be denied that you’ll be missing a great many references to the old world (for now, anyway, up to the point where you’ve caught up with the lore.)

    As it’s part of the immense thrill I’m having with the game, I really feel for those of you who will miss these things… Alas, I have no solutions besides recommending reading the GW wiki in one’s spare time and sharing the stuff I catch on my blog now and then.

    1. Ooops, thanks for pointing that out!
      I’m fully aware it will take some effort on my own part if I intend to catch up on some stuff – and I’m sure more will also reveal itself during GW2. I’m greatly looking forward to that.

      and I’m glad we are welcome, hehe! ;)

  4. I had similar feelings of being a tourist but it was in EQ2. I was was surrounded about veterans of EQ1 so they would often talk about “the old days”, all the cool stuff they did, the NPCs they met and so on. That was always fascinating and made me feel like I missed a great era. Then there was the game itself trying to bring back some important NPC from back in the days and doing a terrible job at it. For instance, Najena. I think one of the raids deals with saving her from the void creatures. But then my questions would go like “Who the hell is Najena? Why should I care about her? Why are the void beasts even bothering with her?” and never got any satisfactory answer in-game to any of these questions. Not to mention a lot of times I didn’t even know there was a story going on or what it was about because it was pretty much limited to raiding, something I don’t enjoy, and everything else just being tangentially related to it.

    Guild Wars 2 at least does a better job of presenting things through each race introduction cinematic, the personal story lines and dungeons story mode. This make it a lot easier to invest oneself in the world and the characters within.

    I do admit I sometimes look at the ruins in the charr controlled areas and wonder how they looked in their prime. I also still intent to go back and play Guild Wars 1, not only for the Hall of Monuments stuff, but to see the story first hand. Even if some grumpy GW1 veterans may say it is too late, I don’t care, Guild Wars 1 has been a game that fascinated me for years but I didn’t get to play for a reason or another. Now I have the best excuse to do it. :)

    1. It sounds like a good solution, am just not sure that in terms of juggling freetime and playtime for GW2 and blogging, I have a realistic shot at catching up with GW. nevermind the grumpy veterans – but I think there’s a point that some things you need to experience while they’re in motion, together with an entire server of people. I wonder if it’s the same now going back to GW by yourself? I can be wrong of course. :)

    2. I should agree with Rakuno, despite your time restrictions – playing Prophecies is worth it for the story and seeing the grand tour of the main parts of the world. But for me it was a real slog. I loved the Mesmer as soon as I first played the class, I like the limited ability ‘hand of cards’ style of gameplay.

      However since I started properly playing through Prophecies only last year I found the gameplay in general to be *very* dated. Extreme pathing, no jump (which combines with pathing to be so frustrating), lots of grindy instances full of repetitive trash mobs…

      I did enjoy playing GW1 overall, but honestly, having played GW2 now I could never go back.

    3. *nods* Time constraints are indeed the most complicated part. Together with an entire server of people I don’t know… I’ve been always a soloist so as long as the server isn’t so dead that it is impossible to buy basic things from other players, I am fine by myself.

      Although I am hoping that part, or even the slog that gamingsf mentioned, might be mitigated a little by playing with a friend. She is playing Guild Wars 2 as well and she threw the idea of those in our guild interested to group up some time to play together in Guild Wars 1 too so we can get the Hall of Monuments stuff done. I just didn’t commit myself to it yet because I barely played enough to know anything about the game much less be an useful party member!

  5. I posted one time, a long time ago, about all the new interest in guild wars with the hype from guild wars 2 growing. People may leave WoW to be tourists, but for guild wars it was like they were suddenly pilgrims, not tourists. It is weird that people keep repeating that they never gave guild wars a chance and suddenly they love it.

    Aside from all that, all I have to say to them at this point is its a few years too late to be giving it a chance with so little new to ever come to that game again.

    As for people suddenly becoming interested in gw2, that’s natural and I think nothing of it. Of course people are suddenly interested in a game that looks incredible and has drawn people in. And so what if they don’t know anythign about guild wars, who else am I going to lord my GWAMM over, all the other people who have it?

    1. “who else am I going to lord my GWAMM over,”

      haha – I SEE now!! :P
      and yes, I agree with you quite a bit. it’s late trying to catch up and I just need to let go of those misgivings and get into the story from GW2’s point of view and storytelling. my personal quests are getting better by the day right now, so I’m really starting to enjoy things from there.

  6. Not really on topic, but I agree completely with you about traveling. Even in the the city notorious for being unwelcoming to tourists (Paris), I found that every where I went outside of the really touristy places everyone was really kind and welcoming. If you accept and try to explore whatever culture you are immersed in instead of being pissed that they don’t conform to yours, it’s amazing how nice Joe Average citizen of planet earth is, in my experience.

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