Social Fears in a Massively Multiplayer World

MMOs are a welcoming community… right?

Ok, I’m going to just come right out and say it – strangers scare me. Large gatherings of people I don’t know make me anxious. It’s why I usually don’t go shopping on known holiday sales, like Boxing Day. It’s why I’ve always been really uncomfortable and off to the side at the frat parties when I was in university. It’s why I have a tough time making new friends. It’s also why I have such problems meeting people in MMO games. I love MMO games, and I love the idea of being part of a guild. I love the idea of being a leader and rewarded for my contributions, and I love the idea of playing through these challenges with friends. But making NEW friends in an MMO, for me, has always been a daunting task.I don’t play up my skill or am the best at strategy or know all the stats like an encyclopedia. I’m a roleplayer, but not one who enjoys simply sitting around in social zones typing out elaborate stories but otherwise doing nothing. I like to roleplay that the game is the DM/Storyteller, and I’m, well, the player. I’ve yet to find any other RPers who play like that, though. I hear about them, but I’ve never met one.

Being a part of a guild can be great. Getting into a guild… not so great.

Even putting RP aside, finding like-minded people to play with is hard. The closest I came was the Canadian Federation Fleet in STO; but even that left a sour taste in my mouth by the end of it, when they asked me to take over as Fleet leader. By then, I’d been working hard to make the Fleet something fun and interesting, but receiving heavy opposition from a majority of the members. Why the leaders asked me to take over for them when so many members didn’t want a part of the ideas I was trying to put through is beyond me. I find most guilds are either too big or too small, too hard-core or too lazy, too complex or too simple. What can I say – I’m picky. I’ve had my own thoughts and ideas on running my own guild that would make it fun to be in and also be actually welcoming to new players, but I kind of need a few people to form a guild with to put those ideas to the test.

… Is this an MMO or a brothel? Because I thought I was playing an MMO…

So what about just meeting random people? Well, honestly, when I solo in a game, I rarely find other people willing to chat while they quest. Most want to just do the mission & not socialize. Why is that? I just don’t get it. I’ve tried joining random group invites and the people end up being either elitists who look down on anyone who isn’t in their “class” of skill, incompetent children in need of an attitude adjustment, or weirdoes wanting something a little… different. So where are all these good, friendly players I keep hearing about?

Socializing in MMOs has been declining drastically. I don’t mean it’s not happening, I mean the quality is getting worse; it’s becoming akin to high school cliques who are great within their circle of friends, but who are not friendly to new people. Even the ones that insist they are friendly and welcoming to new players, I’ve found they are not. What they are is indifferent to new players, and once you’re recruited, you’re pretty much on your own. One STO fleet I joined even had an officer dedicated to welcoming new players and easing them into the fleet over a few weeks, but I never once saw the guy over the 2 months I was in that fleet. And it’s a pretty big, well-known fleet, too.

Sometimes you want to go where someone actually cares what your name is.

Social hubs are, in my mind, a joke right now, in most games. I’ve tried doing what other people have suggested and just saying hello, but I get the same reaction as I would walking up to some stranger on the street and randomly saying hello. I tried looking for people to help with a quest, but they did not talk much and as soon as the quest was complete, they disappeared. I’ve tried joining a few guilds in various games, and gotten the same stupid crap of being practically ignored every time. After such bad experiences over and over with trying to meet new people in MMO games, I’m reluctant to try any of them again, and instead try to add people in games that I’ve met one way or another outside the game first. But the problem isn’t strictly other people; I have social anxieties that make it hard for me to meet people in general. I’m honestly scared of new people, to be bluntly honest. I just don’t trust them to not end up being selfish, hurtful asshats. For every good person, there are 1000 selfish assholes who manipulate, use, insult, and/or emotionally shit-kick the people they meet. Some from the start, some take their time. And it’s those people I don’t want to meet. But how can you know if someone is like that if they don’t really reveal it for the first several weeks? Is it really worth it to wade through all the bullshit in hopes of meeting those rare few good people? I find most good people are just as reluctant to get to know new people as I am, and often already are established in their own clique/guild.

So here’s my question to you guys: Why are so many people anti-social to new people in MMO games that are outside of their cliques/guilds, and how can we fix this? How can we encourage players to socialize more outside their cliques and encourage meeting new people for longer than simply the completion of a quest? Why do guilds who claim to be “newbie friendly” really just mean they aren’t outright mean to newbies? And if there really are lots of good, nice people like this, why is it I can’t seem to meet them?