Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (or MMORPGs for short) have always been quite a popular genre in the gaming world, attracting various players of different age, playstyles and experience levels. As every MMORPG is set in an entirely new world, offering players a chance to assume their new role and explore their surroundings, it may often seem like all of us are starting from the ground up when checking out a new title.
And while that may be the case – to an extent, the fact of the matter is that some players are simply more likely to figure things out and catch up faster than others. As much as this may seem like a huge positive – and it can sometimes very well be – things don’t always turn out the way they’re intended to.
One of the oldest and most prominent issues in various MMORPGs is certainly gatekeeping. By definition, gatekeeping is the activity of controlling and usually limiting access to a particular thing. In MMORPGs that “thing” is most commonly a certain piece of content. That being said, let’s further explore the topic of gatekeeping and see what’s the main issue and how players can work their way around it.
The main issue
To put things in a different perspective and try to make the issue a bit clearer, imagine yourself looking for some online casino entertainment. If you’re looking for new online casinos, your initial reaction may be to check websites, such as https://www.casinospesialisten.net/nye-casinoer to find what you’re looking for. Now imagine all of the existing casino players preventing you from joining them due to lack of experience, skill, or any similar issue.
In MMORPGs, the biggest gatekeeping usually happens around the so-called end-game content. These are usually dungeons, raids, fractals, strike missions, meta events or any other similar group content. Considering the fact that the main idea behind MMOs lies precisely in team play and group content, the issue with gatekeeping becomes even more obvious.
Namely, new players that are only starting their epic journey may be interested in checking some of this content out. And while it’s absolutely normal – and expected – not to be able to access all of the content before it’s originally intended by the game itself, the real issue arises once players reach end-game level.
As an example, in Guild Wars 2, raids are in-game content that probably experiences the heaviest gatekeeping by the community. To be fair, this content is indeed challenging and it does take a lot of time to learn how to play it. But that doesn’t mean that inexperienced players should be shooed away and prevented from checking this content out just because they’re new to it.
In World of Warcraft, on the other hand, aside from raids, the main gatekeeping issue also lies in rated PvP content. Due to the fact that some of the RPvP rewards – usually of cosmetic nature – were synonymous with the elite status, more experienced players simply didn’t want to “waste their time” playing with those lacking the experience or skill.
Luckily, even though the issue of gatekeeping is quite a predominant one, there are still some ways around it. MMORPGs are usually rich with guilds that count numerous players from all across the globe. One of the possible solutions to gatekeeping came in the form of guild-exclusive events.
Namely, there are guilds that welcome new and inexperienced players and organize guild runs that are meant to provide access to otherwise borderline-inaccessible content. So, by finding and joining such guilds, players can still have the opportunity to explore some of the content they would normally be locked out of.
Additionally, there’s always a chance that players can come across a particularly welcoming – or desperate – group that won’t really mind their lack of experience. However, in such instances, the learning part won’t be addressed as much as it is in training runs, but it still leaves enough opportunity for new players to at least get to experience it once.
Aside from the aforementioned ways, there’s also the option to try and organize your own group and see if you can reach success. If players opt for this route, they need to prepare themselves that finding an interested group won’t be as big of an issue as successfully finishing the run. But that’s okay, as this is usually the most common way new and inexperienced players can access end-game content.
So, should things change?
While various game communities are usually very loud when complaining about gatekeeping, there’s also a different perspective we need to address.
Players that are the most responsible for preventing others to join them on a particular run oftentimes have valid reasons as well. Namely, these players spent hours learning the game’s mechanics and perfecting both their gear as well as playstyle to reach maximum results.
Additionally, a group of such hard-core players can usually clear a run in significantly less time, which then leaves them with enough time/room to move on to enjoying other aspects of the game. That’s why it’s entirely understandable that they simply – and most commonly – don’t want to waste time on teaching new players.
Besides, it’s also worth noting that while some players absolutely love to complain, not all of them are willing to actually learn. Slackers and players looking to be carried will always exist in any game. So, it’s only logical that the players who did their due diligence don’t really feel inclined to pay attention to those who don’t even want to give their bare minimum, i.e., at least watch a video or two if not learn the whole mechanic.
That’s why it is quite difficult to determine if things should change or not.
In the end, MMORPGs welcome all players interested in exploring them further. And while it is true that there are toxic players and communities in all of them, there are also the ones that are anything but. What this means is that any player will be able to find a way to join a group and access all of the in-game content – if they truly wish to do so. However, if the player is only interested in complaining and not much else, they can’t really expect others to babysit them, because that’s simply not either their duty or responsibility.