Yes, yes, there’s new content in Glitch again, and yes, I will get around to reviewing it. And yes, some of you might have caught that I’m playing Tribes off and on this week and planning to review that as well. Both will happen, maybe even today — I seem to be ill and can’t sleep however, so it’s also quite possible I’ll sleep through today.
But lately I’ve found myself wondering, who the hell else plays this game? I don’t mean to suggest the game is empty — even with a beta part deux population that certainly seems a bit less active than the original launch population, the game still isn’t empty, and I still meet new people. I’d hazard a guess that the activity numbers look similar to those on a single server of sharded games — or at least, I find myself around other players or stumbling into groups about as often as I have after the launch rush has faded to more stable numbers in games like EQII or CoH.
And I’m not thinking about demographics either — though such would be interesting if it were possible to be thorough. Someone has created their own demographic survey for the game, but the sample is “players who frequent the forums and notice this post,” and there’s really no way to tell how well that sample reflects the population.
No, I’m wondering what types of gamers find themselves attracted to Glitch.
In my own circle, I’ve encountered a very different type of gamer than I have in other MMOs. I’ve certainly encountered a fair number of more typical MMO players, the ones that have played other MMOs, the ones that play AAA console or PC releases. I talked to someone in game that was already playing Tribes when I was suddenly realizing it had released and thinking about downloading it. I talked to someone else that plays a few games of League of Legends most days that she spends gaming. There’s a couple of fellow council members (the cofounders of the group I’m part of) that played FFXI extensively, one that played CoH for quite some time, and a few that, like myself, have reached jaded vet status.
But more frequently, and more interestingly, I run into players that I really would not expect to meet in the MMOs I’ve played in the more recent past. To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not being an experienced MMO player — it’s just that the last time I met this many people working through their first MMO was way back around the EQII launch. If there’s anything bad about the number of fresh fish at all, it’s a sense of perspective. Being critical of Tiny Speck’s communications with the community is rather hard if you played SWG through the New Game “Enhancement” update. It’s pretty hard to be critical of the unlaunching and the sweeping game changes they decided to make, after offering us all refunds, if you’re a Final Fantasy XIV fan recently forced to start paying a sub for a game that still really isn’t in great shape. It’s hard to be critical of Tiny Speck’s CEO for making the occasional unfortunate cryptic remark that sets the community off when you read statements from Big Point’s CEO—what’s his face, the guy with the clearly evil goatee—claiming that using cash shops to sell advantages and power in games is good and shouldn’t be criticized.
But I digress. I don’t just meet people that have never played other MMOs; I meet people that also say they do not play other games. Today, one of my friends had to admit she did not know what FPS stands for — I can’t remember if she’s one of my friends that does not play other games, but I feel safe assuming so. Wolfenstein 3d happened a long time ago — FPS isn’t exactly an obscure gaming term.
If I were the audience, rather than the author, of this post, I’m pretty sure I know what I’d be thinking by the time I’d reached this point: casuals. Casuals play Glitch. But like my post on the Retro Hardcore Gamer from months back, I don’t think there’s anything casual about the way these folks play Glitch. Over the initial months of the Unlaunch, many of these people showed a resiliency for repetitive grinding that Eve miners would find impressive. And there’s nothing casual about Glitch — it takes a heck of a lot of depth to keep me playing the same game for seven consecutive months, an accomplishment no MMO can claim to have reached with me since SWG.
Perhaps there is some link between this idea of the Retro Hardcore Gamer and the Glitch player. It is a side scroller, and I know that definitely hits the nostalgia button for me. But even this link doesn’t completely explain who exactly is attracted to the game. Although I do tend to meet older players more often in Glitch than in any MMO I’ve played except Eve, and I feel like being in my early 30s puts me solidly in the middle rather than solidly in the old men club, I have met a small group of male players right around 18 and a smattering of female players between 14 and 18. Can I redefine Retro Hardcore to include this younger set, even if they weren’t yet alive when I threw my first fireball at a goomba? Though I don’t think I stated so explicitly, nostalgia was a big part of the Retro Hardcore definition — is it possible to be nostalgic for an era you weren’t alive for? Possibly. James Murphy, lead singer for the now defunct LCD Soundsystem, has a great line about losing his edge to kids “with borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties” — maybe they borrowed their retro hardcore tastes from older siblings or parents.
Or maybe the phrase I made up to describe a group of gamers I keep encountering only seems like it might apply here because it’s a phrase I made up and my ego is rather healthy. I don’t know — I do still think I’m awesome though.
I feel no closer to understanding who plays glitch now then I did before I started writing these thoughts. Perhaps, after a review of the latest Glitch content, which I’ve now decided will happen when I wake up (though whether or not I will wake up today or wait until tomorrow is still up for debate), and after a review of Tribes: Ascend, I should sit down and think about why I play Glitch.
If you play, and you’re reading, why the hell do you play? What characteristic of your personality or tastes attracts you to Glitch?