This week’s earlier post about choosing how much time you spend in MMOs got me thinking about how people with limited hours to spare can do something that still feels meaningful in their favourite virtual world.
Some of these things are fun, while others are just small ways that can make you feel as though you’re helping to keep these spaces flourishing, positive, and community-focused. Some of them may get you recognition and some are simple acts of anonymous goodwill.
Whether you’re strapped for time, suffering burnout from the same old daily grind, or just don’t want to spend 4+ hours a day keeping up with the current meta, here are 10 things you can do that will make a difference in your favourite MMO without lots of stress, commitment, and pressure.
1) Help Newbies
MMO launches are exciting times. Everybody is super social and there’s a shared sense of “What the heck are we doing?!”
Once that initial flood of players wears off though, there can often be a lack of support for new players. These are complex games and the deluge of things to do can often be overwhelming. Alternatively, some games may hold new players’ hands a little too tightly, cornering them off in a slow, segregated place away from the action taking place in the rest of the game. In this case, the lack of player interaction can be a turn-off for someone coming to the game with the hope of getting involved in a community.
If you’ve only got an hour or less to spare, then that’s ample time to drop by one of the game’s low-level areas and check in on some new players. Even if they don’t want help with anything they might simply appreciate a bit of conversation as a break from the grind. And who knows, these sorts of interactions might get them to stay around long enough that they can help you out sometime down the line.
2) Become the [insert niche here] person on your server
A whole bunch of people want to be the dude who inspires fear when they step on the PvP battlefield. You know – the one with the best gear, the rare title above their head, and a guild full of like-minded players at their tail. They’ve each got a playtime that measures in the tens of thousands. And you’ve got 40 minutes each evening while your dinner’s in the oven.
So, you’re probably not going to ever be that person unless your family pulls a Home Alone and a winning lottery ticket falls in your lap. Let’s be honest though, combat is rarely the strong point of this genre so if you want to get your share of the warlord power fantasy there are plenty of other games you can jump into that will scratch this itch without requiring you to abandon all your adult responsibilities.
Thankfully there are plenty of other things you can do to make a name for yourself on your server. You could craft one type of item and be the go-to person for that thing. You could be the guildie who supplies heaps of one or two easy-to-obtain but vital crafting materials. Or you could be the person known for helping out new players. Heck, combine all three and be the person who provides new players with the items and materials they need to get a head start on their quest to endgame.
3) Contribute to a Wiki
At some point in your MMO playtime, you’re going to go looking for a guide on what a specific item does; or how a system works; or how to complete a quest. Chances are you’ll find yourself on that game’s wiki. Even for some of the AAA MMOs out there, these wikis can often be lacking vital information. Articles can be outdated, poorly formatted, or just kind of vague.
This can be an especially great way to contribute to your community if you used to be a heavier player and therefore have a lot of knowledge about the game but have had to scale back your playtime.
4) Turn Up
Group activities and events take a lot of organization. While that sort of dedication may be out of reach for you, it’s important to remember that people host these things because they want people to turn up to them.
Whether in a game or real life we’ve all been at one of those events where it’s kind of a washout – it sucks. If you hear of a server event, or a guildie is trying to rally people to do something and you’re able to make it then let your voice be heard and do your best to be there.
5) Talk to People
Some people play these Massively Multiplayer Online games with the intention of talking to as few people as possible. These days that’s often me – I enjoy the gameplay systems and the ambience of having other ‘real people’ sharing the world with me, but most evenings I just lack the brain power to make conversation with them by the time it comes to logging into a game.
That wasn’t always the case though. Back when I was a lost and lonely teenager, being taken under the wing of a handful of older, relaxed players gave me a bit of a sounding board to go along with the distraction that the game was providing me. Those folks probably didn’t know it, but they really helped me out during those awkward years. You never know what kind of an impact you could have on somebody you would otherwise sprint straight past.
Virtual world blogging used to be a much bigger thing when there was still a novelty to playing online games. These days there aren’t quite so many single-game blogs out there, but the few that are around for each game still give other players and people who might be interested in the game a window into what life is like in that little corner of the online world.
News and opinion blogs (a bit like this one) are generally more prevalent these days, but I’d sure like to see a few more journal-type MMO blogs. One of my favourite examples is The True Story of Rodd & Vroflus, which is now archived on the SWGEmu forums.
7) Create an In-Game Community Space
This one is kind of dependent on the game you play, but pretty much any MMO with player housing can be used to do more than display your trophies. Check out these houses in New World for example. The game isn’t winning any prizes for its robust player housing systems, but savvy decorators have still found ways to build amazing community spaces such as inns, cafes, libraries, and prayer rooms.
8) Gift, Don’t Sell
You may not be able to contribute to your guild’s nightly dungeon runs, but no matter what content you’re doing, you’re likely to end up with an inventory full of junk by the end of your play session. Sure it’s easier to just sell it to an NPC merchant, but chances are someone in your guild could put that little stack of materials you’ve gathered along your way to good use. If you’re not going to miss the cash you’ll get for selling it, think instead about dropping it in your guild bank, or shout out in your guild chat or Discord to see if anybody needs it.
Those small stacks add up and you can quickly find yourself with a reputation as a helpful member of your guild this way.
9) Report Spam/Hate Speech
OK, so this one in isn’t any fun at all. Most games make it pretty easy to add a player to your ignore list, but usually you have to jump through one or two more hoops to report a player who’s making a nuisance of themselves. Bringing the deviant to the attention of a CSR means they’ll be dealt with sooner rather than later.
It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
10) It All Adds Up
You’ve chosen to play game X because there are things in it that interest you. You’ve accepted that you might not be the best PvP’er on the server, but you enjoy it. So, do it.
Heck, even if you’re the absolute worst then at least it will make the person who’s only slightly better than you feel a little happier.
The smallest amount of crafting materials, guild-ranking points, or DPS can make the difference in the grand scheme of things. Ignore the vocal minority of hArDcOrE gAmErZ and play the game how you want to play it and chances are you’re going to make your MMO community a much more inviting place than that other guy.
What specific things do you do in your game that you feel have a high impact/effort ratio? Let me know in the comments!