Open World PvP and the Psychology of a Carebear

Note:¬†This isn’t an article meant to argue there shouldn’t be open world PvP, or that PvPers are bad people. ūüėČ

ArcheAge has opened up a can in the MMO community, being the spark of many PvP/Anti-PvP conversations. This seems to be because there are a number of folks who want the kind of sandbox AA¬†is, but they don’t want the PvP that comes with the sand. I completely understand this, because I¬†am in the same camp. I don’t, however, let that sully my fun and prevent me from taking part¬†in the AA experience.

I¬†openly state that I’m an anti open world PvP player. I wear my carebear cloak without shame. I don’t live by the creed “Red is Dead,” and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to engage in battle with reds who creep into the East over the past week. But I won’t.

That’s always just the way it’s been for me. But I never really questioned why until I read the article at Gaming ConjectureWhat’s So Bad About Open World PvP?

I decided to write a bit about the experiences and psychology that go into creating a player who doesn’t enjoy open world PvP.

The Defense

This article states that there’s really no substantial loss to being killed in AA open world PVP. Well, nothing but your pride.

…Getting killed in a PvP encounter in Archeage offers no consequences for the loser unless they are on a trade run, in which case you lose your trade pack and the resources involved in obtaining that, and losing a boat to pirates whilst sailing effectively amounts to a repair bill.¬† This is in stark contrast to a game like Eve where every defeat means a lost ship and flying home in your pod.

The article¬†ArcheAge ‚Äď PvE After Level 30 on Endgame Viable¬†¬†echoes this sentiment.

Let me reiterate that unless you’re carrying a trade pack, there is absolutely no reason to fear death in ArcheAge. Particularly a PvP death, because you lose no experience or even health. All you have to do is run back to where you died. Or run somewhere else. Exactly the same as if a PvE mob killed you.

Now, neither of these statements make me want to rush out there and start spraying the blood of the  enemy faction all over the place. But they do speak the truth Рthe risk of loss when PKed in AA is low, especially compared to other PVP oriented games.

The Question

Gaming Conjecture takes it a step further and asks the question that nudged me to write this article.

So, what exactly are people worried about with regard to Archeage? Having to walk from the respawn point?

I sometimes feel that what’s partly at play here is a sense that the people who kill you are doing so to spite you in some way. That you are the butt of someone else’s joke. A figure of fun for them. I may be totally off the mark here, but I sense that some seem to think that PvPers who gank people are not nice people, that they are people who are looking to ruin your evening. I genuinely believe that’s very rarely the case.

This got me to thinking about myself and why I’m so anti-PvP. For years, I simply avoided it. Didn’t¬†go into structured PvP ¬†often.¬†Refused to play a game at the first hint of open-world-PVP being a feature. I won’t touch games like Rust and Day Z because… nope.

I stopped to ask myself… why? How did this negative response become a normal reflex?

Some History РUltima Online

I think it’s different for everyone. My aversion to PvP started very early on.

It was somewhere around 1999 Р2000. I was a college student who never knew much about the Internet until then (yes, there was a time without the Internet and MMOs for me!). My sister and I had one computer (which I bought for school purposes *wink* *wink*) and we were just learning about the world of online gaming.

We started with MUDs and then moved into games like Dark Ages and eventually Ultima Online: The Second Age. These were the days before the Renaissance expansion, and it was fully open world PvP. There was never a debate about it¬†— if you wanted to play UO, you dealt with the PvP. That’s just how it was.

Death in UO

PvP had consequences and major loss in UO. When someone killed you, they could rob your warm corpse for everything you had, kick your pet dog around, and use your horse for glue. All the while, you ran around as a frantic ghost looking for a wandering healer to bring you back into the world with only a death shroud to your name.

Yes. Those were the days you went naked into the mines so that if someone ganked you while you were gathering ore, all you’d lose¬†was the ore and a pack horse (if you had one). Yes. That was the game that taught me to fear every visible¬†player character when outside of town and run away from everyone at first sight.

This kept me out of harm’s way. But it also left an emotional mark on me in regards to MMOs. Because I avoided everyone, it¬†kept me from making friends and meaningful connections with other players. It essentially turned me into a solo player from the very beginning¬†of my MMO experience.¬†And being a naturally shy person, it was difficult for me to move beyond this mindset even as games began to evolve.

A little while after, UO split into two worlds – one with open world PvP, and one that protected you from open world PvP. I don’t know if there were already issues with this ruleset even back then to initiate this change. But suddenly, I had a choice! There was a world where gankers paid the price for trying to butt into my sheep sheering time!

That knowledge of choice was powerful. I was no longer forced into a ruleset to simply play the game I wanted to play. And from that day on, I only chose PvE servers or games that allowed you to decide whether someone can come along and beat you up for your lunch money.

Some Psychology

Looking back at the question, there has to be more than just that, I decided. Sure, I had some fearful PvP experiences with my first real MMO. But what else is there that really makes me reject PvP so violently?

Personality, perhaps? I am a slightly competitive person (deep down… shhh….), but at the same time,¬†I’m a perfectionist. I like to do things that I perform decently well at (PvE). Chances are, I wouldn’t be all that great at PVP. So, if¬†I’m going to suck at it and get stressed over it… I’m just not going to do it. It’s not fun for me. I play MMOs for relaxation and enjoyment, not to feel stressed.

Feels Like It…

Some people like PvP for the challenge, and that challenge is fun to them. I don’t get the same rush or excitement¬†from it.

In fact, I’d feel terrible¬†about PKing¬†someone in an open world environment if it wasn’t in self defense.

I game by a “Do Unto Others” sort of mentality. I try not to¬†treat folks in a way I wouldn’t want to be treated myself. I don’t want to be ganked while trying to achieve my PvE goals, so I’m not going to do that to someone else. That’s just how I roll.

For instance, in AA… This weekend, I¬†saw a¬†Red player who managed to make it all the way to the starting area in the East so he¬†could purchase a snowlion mount in his color¬†preference. He saw me and shrank back, since I could have attacked¬†him, though he could not strike at me first. I took a step back, letting him know I wasn’t going to ruin his day. All he wanted was a snowlion mount, and he wasn’t bothering anyone. Seeing I wasn’t going to hunt him down, he rushed in, bought his mount and scampered away.

No one needed to die there. What’s the point in that aside from being a griefer?

In Closing

So, that’s what makes a carebear like me tick. Personality and experience both played a part in developing my automatic negative reaction towards the idea of open world PVP.

But I do ask myself if my response is justified.

Do I have the idea¬†that PvPers are all bloodthirsty ganker-trolls that are out there just to get their kicks by victimizing my easy-going questing in danger zones? Yeah. I guess I really do see it that way. Sometimes that really does happen, and those people do exist, even on your own faction in AA. Looking at the overall feel of the¬†AA community, the same-faction killing, and attitudes on forums doesn’t bathe any of this in a more positive light.

Should I change the way I view this? Should I learn to have thicker skin, live with the potential of the risk, and not let it bother me if/when PKing happens? Maybe so.

So far, I’ve been quite content in playing AA the way I have. Sure, it’s inconvenient not to be able to quest in zones unless they are at peace.¬†But like mining naked in UO, it keeps me safe from the risk of being PKed… even if the risk is more perceived than actual loss.

I’d love to hear thoughts from PvPers… maybe even some psychology from your side of the spectrum!¬†

*sigh* Time for a corpse run.