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All together; Yet so Alone

I have seen much in the land of Guild Wars 2—roaming beasts, friendly guilds, zones that are so far beyond my level. And Yet, what I take the most interest in is the interaction of players. Why do we barely acknowledge strangers when we play games, unless we have too? I`ve almost never seen two random wandering warriors so much as greet one another when playing.

Of course, there is reason for this. Whenever you play a game, you tend to be focused on a point, and will ignore any meaningless distractions to get to that point. The exception will be to help others, as we as humans feel inclined to help others in need. This is why, at least in my mind, you don`t see random player interactions unless you either A. Fall in battle, or B. Trigger a world event.

Perhaps the biggest conglomeration of players I have ever seen was when a world boss, known as the Shadow Behemoth, spawned in the Godslost Swamp in Queensdale. I saw at least two dozen players, all working together to defeat this beast, all different, yet all working towards a common goal. This goal was that of experience and treasure, the reward for the kill. And since they couldn`t defeat this beast alone, why not help others and rely on both your skill and theirs to defeat it? After all, that what we, as humans, do when faced with challenges larger than we, individually, cannot defeat alone. We work together for a common goal and reward, even with complete strangers, and learn more about each other along the way.

However, this last bit tends to not happen in these games, or at least happens less often. When the world boss was defeated, no one talked to each other beyond basic excited celebration and thanks. We just all took the treasure and fled in different directions. This exposes another interaction barrier in games, that being the lack of face to face interaction. Knowing a face and appearance can help with remembering a person, and can even tell you something about them.

We think less of it in games because player characters can often tell us little about the person. After all, my character, Silas, barely represents my personality. It`s the fact that random interactions are so stunted that makes me interested in how the occasion exception happens, and how someone can prove themselves to others in the media of gaming.


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