In a recent post over at KTR, Zubon reposted a comment he received from a Guild Wars 2 fan after he bemoaned the state of a number of MMOs. The commenter listed every feature of the upcoming game as if it will solve every single problem he had brought up. Zubon rightly pointed out the short sightedness of doing this before the product has even been released – and highlighted the (I'm sorry to say it) arrogance which seems to have built up around the game. I believe that the point of the post was somewhat lost in the proceeding 30 or so comments, but the point Zubon (and Syncaine) is trying to make is interesting to note.
I think it is important to remember that the game which solves every single problem is an “Ideal Type” – a platonic concept, an unobtainable ideal. Max Weber argued that certain concepts were so perfect that they couldn’t possibly exist in real life and so were only good as a tool for comparison.
For example, take the ideal family. We all know that every family has problems (however little or petty). So, the happily married parents with 2.4 children, a white picket fence and a dog ideal simply doesn’t exist – but you don’t know where your family (with its drug abuse, manic depression and nick-nack hoarding) fits into the picture unless you have that ideal as a concept against which to compare. I think this is a concept that some GW2 fans need to grasp.
The way the game is often spoken about on forum posts and blogs you would think that it had been out for years, had been play-tested to infinity, proven to be completely and utterly flawless and the employees of ArenaNet had been crowned as Supreme Rulers of the Multiverse and given ultimate control over all proceeding and preceding (assuming they also included the solution to time travel in the first expansion pack) peoples.
This is not the case. So, I wonder whether some people might benefit from a bit of perspective.
I’m not asking people not to be excited about the game (that would shooting myself in the foot somewhat), I’m just asking them to bear in mind that until the game hits the shelves, we can’t be sure what it will be like. And until we can be sure, please also bear in mind that if we are going to roll Guild Wars 2 out on a trolley every time any debate about MMOs occurs people are going to get very tired of it very quickly and those people who aren’t as excited about the release of the game as us are going to get rather irritated that we are stifling their conversations by almost touting GW2 as the be all and end all. So, until then, the concept of Guild Wars 2 as the perfect game exists as only an “ideal type”; unobtainable, non-existent and only useful as a tool for comparison. We've got a great community here, but I do think we have to be careful.
Ps. Then again, if the game exists in an unobservable vacuum (unobservable by us, at least) then we could argue that it is a sort of “Schrodinger’s MMO” and, as such, exists in a state of perfection and imperfection simultaneously.