It happens often, at least once a month. A person sits down, perhaps after a long day or perhaps first thing in the morning, and tries to log into their favorite massively multiplayer online game, only to find that a server is down and they can’t play. The developers may be applying a new update or repairing some massive glitch but to the player it means one thing above all others; they can’t play. What is player to do?
People who don’t play MMORPGs have a hard time understanding what a server being down can mean to the average gamer. Imagine something like a home away from home; a place where a person can go to take a break from their normal life. Now picture this little getaway as a place with dragons; dragons you can fight. Or, maybe there aren’t dragons but spaceships and there is an intergalactic war going on and it’s up to the player to help save the galaxy. Or it’s a just place where a person can get together with all their friends across the world and play a simple game. Each of these homes away from home are filled other players, real people that can be worked with or against in order to achieve a goal. There is usually a micro economy where players can sell their goods and buy a new space-cruiser or the Dragon-slaying cudgel of the fox.
Fairly quickly the imagination pictures something more like a parallel universe rather than a timeshare in Clearwater, Florida. What is a player to do when they aren’t allowed in their preferred alternate universe?
1: Throw a tantrum.
What do people do when the government isn’t being run exactly ‘right?’ Mostly they whine and yell and protest and boycott and so on. And that can be the reaction to something as simple as pothole legislation. When a server is down that means more than a person can’t play a video game; it means a part of them can’t exist.
Now, there are arguments that these alternate universes are just games, and that’s true. They are called MMORPGs for a reason. That ‘G’ stands in for the word ‘game.’ For many of the player however, that game is a part of their life and that is being denied to them. So when developer shut down a game for a few hours longer than they were supposed to, or when a glitch prevents people from logging in many players throw a temper tantrum.
And in way that’s ok. It’s not mature, it’s not exactly logical but it is understandable. It’s one way to let the people in charge know that a player is not happy. It’s on par with some reactions over political actions; it may seem silly to the people it doesn’t directly effect. It might not seem logical but it’s the only way some people know how to interact with the world. And frankly, it helps pass the time until the game is working again. So, if you are so inclined, get on the internet, threaten to boycott the game, yell, whine and throw a tantrum if for no better reason than to keep yourself occupied. It’s ok, your world is down and someone needs to fix it. People don’t act like adults in the ‘real’ world and you don’t have to either.
2: Play another game
One of the most common threats made when World of Warcraft is down for an unknown reason is ‘That’s it! I’m playing another MMORPG.’ Usually the person making that claim never does, they sit, wait and complain until everything is fixed. However, perhaps it is time to try another game. There are more games out there than there are hours in the day to play them. This means there are unique worlds to experience and many of them are free.
It doesn’t matter whether you ever come back to your original game or not, either way you pass the time waiting for that first game to be playable again. The new universe you explore could be the most exciting place you’ve ever been or could be the most boring place. Worst case scenario is that all you do is pass the time. Best case being that you find a ‘whole new world.’
3: Take a break
This is the advice most likely to sound cliché and motherly, but it’s valid nonetheless. Don’t play a game; let it go for a few hours. It’ll likely be back up later. The visceral, tangible and material world called reality can actually be pretty fun. Take a break from your second life and take up a new hobby. Knitting is actually a lot like the tailoring profession in WOW. Fishing is something you can actually do, and if you want you can even eat what you catch.
I know this is what your mother has been telling you for years and years but there is a world outside your room. While you get to choose your alternate universe you play in, you sort of have to live in this ‘real’ world at some point and you might as well learn how to enjoy it. So when WOW is down, when you can’t log into Rift or EVE, put down the keyboard and pick up some yarn or paint or an instrument and learn a new skill.