What’s My Motivation?

I’ve recently seen Avatar in 3D for the third time and an insistent idea has repeatedly surfaces at the periphery of my thoughts. It’s a simple phrase. Almost clichéd at this point, “What’s my motivation?”

Okay so WTF am I talking about, and what is my point?  I’ve been ruminating on the idea of what my real motivation for playing MMO’s is right now.  I still have an intense pull to the genre and enjoy them to a large extent, but I’ve never been able to bring to terms the really interest I have in them. What real hope do I have, for the game, when I log into a new virtual world?

I’d like to say that I’m looking for a home, but to tell you the truth I’ve never been happier in my current real life situation.  Even though logging into an MMO does feel like an escape, it feels like an escape TO someplace, instead of an escape FROM someplace.  I think that’s an important distinction to make.

Anyways!  Avatar 3D’s world has me completely entranced.  I will easily concede that the narrative of the film in today’s current movie atmosphere has become a bit formulaic but it is well conceived sci-fi none the less.

Avatar is a great example of the sci-fi genre in my opinion.  It calls out for debate by grounding the film with a few basic concepts. The language being formed by an actual linguist, Dr. Paul Frommer, to create a language (yes you can learn Na’vi) and the ecosystem’s reliance on itself (purposely vague to reduce spoilers), creates a strong platform.  We as viewers can now wonder about the similarities between the native’s of the world of Pandora and the natives our world and wonder.  Not as a plot cliché but as a possible evolutionary avenue that has allowed the Na’vi a “direct line” to enlightenment (VAGUE!  Go watch it!).

Overall, the time that was taken to create the world as cohesive being, and the use of 3D to push the space into the theaters canvassed screen, made me want to experience the world.  Not in a literal way though.  In the most honest terms, if I stepped foot on that planet, it would only be in a red shirt.  I’d love to play a game that wraps me up as thoroughly as Avatar did…oh wait there is an Avatar game isn’t there?…hmm…well.  I’ll just say I’m playing that…it’s not successful…and the review will be up sometime after my Fallen Earth review.

I guess Avatar’s insistence for me to live in its world is what motivates me to try out MMO’s also.  I’ve found it in a few games recently.  Mostly Champions Online has done it.

I play with Champions Online like I played with action figures as a kid.  Most of my enjoyment comes from creating complex characters and learning about them as I flesh out their motivation and backstory.  I then get to explore the world as this original character. Champions Online’s kind of interaction is with the person’s imagination directly and that is why it feels so much like cracking open a new figurine every time I make a character.

I think the initial motivation is closely tied to the user’s imagination and I think that’s why I’ve avoided worrying about game mechanics in this post.  When I’m introduced to a title I’m not usually worried about those things.  Like most people those help to cement my feeling towards a game, either positive or negative, but overall they can be over looked if the game world absorbs me thoroughly.

I guess I’m plainly looking for moments like this in my game:

I'm on a dock

These moments are completely subjective and vary depending upon the person’s aesthetic taste, but these are what I’m looking for.  This is from the free to play MMO, Allods Online, and the only screenshot I had handy.  Most of the time when I’m privy to these moment that affect me in some way I forget to take a screenshot, go figure.

It has happened in LOTRO because of their intense detail to bringing the book to life for me.  It has happened in Age of Conan through the combination of the musical score and sweeping vistas.  It happened in Avatar 3D just the same.  It is the same feeling I’ve gotten while reading a book and being wrapped up in another world for hours.  It’s that intangible something that makes a game more than a game and elevates it to an experience.

Look at how my character is interacting with the moon in the above picture.  On some random dock, for just a second, I’ve created a narrative.  The moon has become a character in my own gaming experience. The same way objects are personified in art.  That connection is important.  I think that those moments of happenstance are what I’m really addicted to most of all.

So what is it?  What is your motivation?  Why do you keep popping into these games?

Either leave a comment or link us your blog post you write on the subject!

1 Comment to What’s My Motivation?

  1. stabbyjoe's Gravatar stabbyjoe
    January 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Honestly I’d like to say that you’re not alone in these feelings. I know that until I discovered MMO’s, I NEVER got into a game so much that I would play that game and ONLY that game for several years at a time. I never could quite put my finger on the reason for this either but you might be on to something with the immersive escape theory.
    MMO’s in general began for me as a social thing in Asheron’s Call. A guy I worked with got me into it and while that game didn’t have a lot that interested me I still played. It was just fun to hang out with my friends and explore a new world.
    I’ve played quite a few MMO’s since then. I won’t list them, but none of them left me feeling “full” either. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy each and every one of them for the entirety of my subscription time but each time, when something new came along that caught my interest, I had no issues jumping ship.
    That’s led me now to Champions Online and I can say that the thing that keeps me coming back to THIS game, are pretty well the same as your reasons.
    I didn’t know anyone who played the game. I can’t convince anyone I know in real life that they should invest in it. And frankly, that’s alright with me. They likely wouldn’t enjoy it like I do. They might kill my buzz. This one, unlike the others, tends to cater to MY interests. Superheroes. RPG character building. A chance to be completely anal retentive about every tiny aspect of the way MY character looks and acts…..
    I’m sure I’m not alone but these are my reasons for coming back to this game in particular. I can’t really comment on my previous games simply because I don’t want to go back to them now and that makes it really hard to see what I saw in them when I played them.

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