Why do MMOs have more of a community than pen-and-paper RPGs?

by on April 8, 2013


Tobold wrote a fascinating article last week on a topic I’d never really thought about – why is it that MMOs at least appear to have a far bigger community online than pen-and-paper games?

Obviously, MMOs are a larger phenomenon in society. And equally, Tobold’s better known as an MMO blogger than a tabletop blogger. But beyond that, he’s got some interesting thoughts on the difference he sees when he blogs on the two subjects:

“Two groups of players playing the same adventure with the same set of rules will end up having two very different experiences. On the one side that is the force of pen & paper roleplaying, the infinite variety and freedom. The most linear pen & paper adventure has more freedom than the most sandboxy MMORPG. On the other side that is a weakness, because without a common experience there is not much of a community. The community in a pen & paper game is limited to the people sitting around the table, who do have a common experience of the game. But anything you can write about that is only of very limited relevance to anybody who wasn’t there.”

Read the rest of Lack Of Community

If you enjoyed this article, check out our other posts from these categories: General MMO Interest

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Redbeard April 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm

The first and most obvious answer to Tobold’s speculations is that he’s writing about D&D 4e. Prior to 4e’s release in 2008, you could justifiably compare D&D and the rest of the pnp RPGs to WoW vs. everyone else in MMO-space. However, 4e caused a huge rift in the D&D community, which was not helped at all by Wizards of the Coast’s “you’re playing RPGs wrong” promotion strategy.

If you can imagine WoW’s playerbase splintering like Everquest’s did, that’s what happened to D&D’s playerbase in the 5 years since 4e was released. D&D 4e isn’t even the largest selling RPG out there, it is actually Pathfinder (known colloquially as D&D 3.75).

Comparatively speaking, the MMO online presence is larger mainly because there are more people playing MMOs than planing pnp RPGs. There are a lot of pnp RPG sites out there beyond ENWorld and rpg.net (aka “the Big Purple”; if you go to the site you’ll know why), but most of the pnp RPG sites are focused on a particular game or genre or system within the community.

Still, MMOs are small potatoes compared to sites for console gamers.

Reply

Koa April 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I have never played D&D 4e and never will. I started playing D&D in 1977 so I have been around a while. I played EQ and WOW also and was always one of those slower old guys…I quit WOW because of the dumbing down and I always thought EQ was a better game .

Anyway back to the tabletop experience vs. MMo. There is nothing that can be better than table top playing of D&D. The experience of learning, the imagination there is nothing LINEAR about it. On the other hand MMO’s like WOW are nothing but linear I got really sick of it. But MMO’s make easier to spend just 15 a month versus a hundred getting books and figures and other stuff. Then there is trying to find people you like to be a t a table top with to play.

I am now playing in a table top D&D campaign every Friday night and it is a blast compared to sitting at home playing an MMO.

Reply

Spiltink July 24, 2013 at 8:50 am

I have played quite a number of mmo’s, and I also go way back to the first and second edition of AD&D back in the late seventies and early eighties. We now live in a world where nearly everything is handed to you visually. When I was playing Dungeons and Dragons back in my teens the closest thing my parents could afford to buy me was the original Atari, not exactly high tech polygons but was still fun and very new to me and saved me spending a few quarters at the local arcade. Now you can play high resolution games on hand held devices. So why does anyone need visual imagination? Well to answer that question, it in my opinion takes more than eye candy to attract me, there needs to be a total commitment of stimuli along with great content. When I did play my first mmo and that was Everquest I was amazed how close to AD&D it was. There was a great background to the world with some flavorful characters, and of course there were epic beasts around the world and possible gains of treasure, and powerful weapons and armor. Everything a true adventurer needs and craves. As time went on though the game lost all the dangers in traveling to far off places by placing portals that could pop a player into a safe realm and travel instantly into another area without the fear of taking hours of travel from Qeynos to Freeport in some very hazardous terrain like Kithicor forest at night. For those that play/ed the game know what I speak of. Anyway, I tried WOW for a time, and though it has a nice blend of storytelling and adventure it didn’t grab me like it should have. It was too much repetition of the same old thing I guess. I have tried other mmo’s that didn’t fit the fantasy genre so no need to mention them.
The basic fact for me is I would rather play the pen and paper games. There is no cookie cutter grind of killing hundreds of giant rats to gain levels, and having to work your rear off to get gold, silver, and other items to trade and barter with. Playing AD&D with pen and paper was and is much more enriching, the encounters weren’t always the same things over and over. Each session felt like a new chapter your character was etching out and hoping to become a legendary champion one day where people would talk about your heroics and great deeds.

Unfortunately, many younger folks may never get that gift I was given as a youngster where my imagination was and is what defines me as a person. I am nearing the age of 49 now and I still think and often act like a kid always daydreaming and being an artist helps keep my youth alive. So if you are a parent or a bit older than the crowd who does nothing but play in front of a computer get them involved in pen and paper gaming. After a time who knows pen and paper games will out sell those massive mmo’s that have cornered the market. For me I am actually going to play Dungeons and Dragons again this evening for the first time in many years. I get to have some fun with new people sitting next to me conversing in real conversation instead of typing out everything I want to say and vice versa on a little pad in broken speech and trying to decipher what it says.
Happy Gaming! :)

Reply

Sharecash Downloader 2011 September 20, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hello, all the time i used to check blog posts here
in the early hours in the daylight, for the reason
that i enjoy to learn more and more.

Reply

Funny Mini Dog January 28, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a
blog article or vice-versa? My site covers a lot of the same
subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from
each other. If you might be interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
I look forward to hearing from you! Fantastic blog by the way!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: