I have played a halfling cleric to level 17 now and it seems as if Everquest is getting less and less enjoyable with every level. You camp one spawn for hours until you make a level or two and have to move to the next higher spawn. And with every level the time you need to spend camping the same spawn becomes longer and longer. And what do you get for that? ‘Improved’ versions of the same spells you already had plus some totally useless spells.

So what’s the point? Abashi, pinch-hitting for the still hiding under his desk Absor, replied that if this bored you, you should go adventure. Presumably this would be in, say, Baldur’s Gate 2 or something similar, since the only “adventures” in the land of Norrath lately involve the words “looking”, “for”, and “group”.

So what’s the point? In Ultima Online there’s a bit more to do, with pvp, crafts, and *gasp* roleplaying. But still, everyone eventually hits the point of “been there, done that”. From what I hear, Asheron’s Call is similar.

So what’s the point? Why do people still play these games, long after they’ve sucked every last gasp of newness and wonder from them?

Well, one answer is that they’re a member of a community – be it a guild, a group of friends, a pvp clan, what have you. Belonging is a powerful motivator. It’s hard to argue with that. I call this the “poker game” mentality – you don’t play poker because you’re fascinated with the cards, or blindsided by possible strategy variations, you play poker because it’s an excuse to get drunk with your friends and lose a lot of money.

Another answer, especially in Everquest, is the “race” to be the most you can possibly be. The highest level, the best equipment, et cetera. When Verant introduced the “uberweapons”, the supposedly best weapon each class can obtain, and it became painfully obvious that they all involved absolutely insane camping times (waiting for rare drops from gods for many). Quite a few players were EXCEEDINGLY pissed about this. This was basically telling them they would never win. They have to be able to get everything that the game offers or… well, what’s the point?

And, yet another answer, one that says entirely too much about those of us who play these games, is that some simply play because they are addicted. Literally. I’ve gotten email from one who is trying to intervene in his friends’ life. Their friend has dropped out of college, lost his job, everything. Just plays EQ. Nothing else matters. Push the bar, get the pellet, repeat ad inifitum. To some this is awfully seductive. You know, it’s harder in real life to figure out where the bar you push for the pellet is.

You might wonder where I’m going with this, and well, I’m sort of wondering myself. I don’t see myself personally as an addict (in fact I play these games far less than I write about them) and I certainly am not an ubergod 60th level necroweenie.

I’m just sort of wondering what’s the point.