I’ve stopped playing DC Universe Online. Even if it weren’t annoyingly buggy, I would’ve quit by now because I’m burned out on it. But I’m not sad or resentful about this fact. I enjoyed it a fair amount more than I was annoyed by it, and it had plenty of fun moments. Like almost every other game that I play, I had my fun and have now moved onto the next thing (Dead Space 2 in my case). That’s pretty much how most folks play games. The only difference is, now I have this sense of urgency and dread about stopping playing. Have I had all the fun that I can have in one month? I need to decide now before they charge my credit card for another month’s play time. It’s the kind of added, trap-like stress that makes me shy away from MMOs in the first place. Well, it’s one of the reasons that I shy away from them.
I have a number of friends who worked on Star Trek Online, but the closest that I ever came to playing it was watching an hour long Quick Look video over at GiantBomb.com. It looked kind of cool, and I am a Star Trek fan, but I didn’t for a moment consider playing it because I’m not an MMO-player. I vastly prefer tighter, more crafted experiences. In particular I’m a sucker for stories in games, and every MMO shares a central, fatal flaw for me: the story of my character can never matter. Because the world and its adventures need to be there for online players to experience them time and time again, my actions will never have any consequences on the world. The result is MMO stories are like a kind of Sisyphean theme park ride. While you’re sitting in your seat looking at the robots and flashing lights, it seems like you’re in the middle of an important drama, but once you exit the ride (often through the gift shop where you can get some new loot), nothing has changed at all. That is the exact opposite of the hero’s journey. Star Trek compels because Kirk and Picard are saving the galaxy and doing what no other starship captains can. I knew any collection of online theme park rides would never give me that experience.