Random Thought About Solo Play and “Aloneness”

Assuming no limitations or restrictions on time, schedules, desired rewards, whatever:

1) Would you prefer to play an MMO mostly solo on your own? Or would it feel more enjoyable with friends/company?

2) Are you comfortable eating out at a restaurant alone? Or would it feel somewhat weird or less enjoyable?

Just a completely random thought out of nowhere.

I’m wondering if there’s any correlation between the two activities, or no.

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15 thoughts on “Random Thought About Solo Play and “Aloneness”

  1. 1) MMOs: More enjoyable with other people, if they can mobilize and organize fast. However I feel I’m more efficient at actually progressing/doing things I want solo, which is my preferred play method.

    2) Eating out alone? Definitely fine with that. Used to do it almost every day out of necessity. It’s actually pretty nice not having to talk to anyone and just being able to enjoy your meal and eat at your own pace.

  2. R'nageo says:

    MMOs: Probably better with a few close friends, but I’ve never managed to get mine to play one. Between playing solo and with people I don’t know, or that I barely know, I’d rather play solo.

    Eating out: I probably won’t go out to an expensive restaurant to eat alone, but I’ve never minded doing so at those around my workplaces. That time alone allows me to recharge my batteries for the afternoon.

  3. Dahakha says:

    MMOs: As long as the content is not linear, requiring everyone to be at the same stage (e.g. instanced dungeons/raids) then I find playing with friends is always more fun, long term. So, something like EVE or ArcheAge or the upcoming Camelot Unchained, Crowfall or Star Citizen would be great for that and one of the main reasons I don’t play EVE is that I don’t have a regular group of friends to a) trust, and b) coordinate with. If there is story involved, or gating of some sort, then I find grouping to be more of a pain unless EVERYONE has the same approach as me. Things like, going in blind to new areas, waiting for others to watch/read dialogue/cutscenes, willingness to go at the pace of the slowest person without rushing them, etc. That is much more difficult than just finding a game like EVE.

    Eating out: I can do both. I generally don’t like big groups – more than 4 or 5 people, but I am quite comfortable eating out alone.

    • Sylow says:

      On the group size, i also agree. I feel most comfortable in small groups. Actually both in MMOs and in restaurants. 🙂

      So yes, the 40 man raid in MMOs is not enjoyable to me, either. A friend of mine, who was deep into raiding, once described it very strikingly. He told me something along the lines that he works with them for the common goal, despite half of them being “assholes” (that’s the word he used) who he wouldn’t want to ever meet or talk to outside of the raid.

      Thus over half of the raid were merely tools for the goal to him. I think this very much describes the feeling i had any time i was in a raid oriented guild in any game: there are no friends in the guild, just means to an end. That’s not the way i roll.

    • Sylow says:

      Another addendum: a group size of 5 is bad in MMOs. We recently several times ran into the problem in our Cabal, that all we had online were couples, but dungeon groups consist of 5 players. Very inconvenient… if any MMO developer reads this, note down: group size needs to be even. 🙂

  4. Sylow says:

    MMOs:
    I very much want to play them with friends. Both RL friends and guildmates in game count for that. Honestly, for playing “always solo”, there are much better options out there, e.g. Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3. (I haven’t played the second, but from all I hear it must be great… I just don’t have the time spare. )

    In contrast, only one MMO I know (TSW) offers story of high quality and even that one, like any other MMO, has some mechanics and drawbacks (and even if it’s just lad) I dislike. I accept them in a MMO, they are the price I readily and without regret pay for being able to play with friends, but when solo would be my only method of playing, they would be inacceptable, since actual solo games don’t suffer from them. (At least most of them, there are actually a few solo games which have some MMO mechanics in them, despite them making absolutely no sense in a solo game. Those are clear cases of the developers copying stuff without ever thinking about why the stuff was implemented that way in other games. )

    Mind you, any MMO absolutely needs to have solo content. After all, there’s always a time when your friends are not online. You might just be there 15 minutes early, or they might have run into a problem and turn up 30 minutes late. If there would be nothing to do solo, you’d either sit around and be bored, or log off and play something else. Either option is bad for the MMO. Outside of that, sometimes I also want to do “easy stuff, all by myself”. That’s another good reason for a MMO to have solo content. What might just be a 30 minutes break in game could else turn into a complete evening in another game, thus lost for the MMO. But in the end, for me the social interaction and playing with friends is the essential part of a MMO, i wouldn’t play any without that.

    On Restaurants:
    Are we speaking of fastfood, or quality restaurants? Turning up alone at a fastfood place, grab something and moving on seems very natural to me. Doing the same at a restaurant is more of an exception. I mean, when i am on a business trip or something like that, and have no company, it also doesn’t trouble me to get real food at a good restaurant all by myself, but i wouldn’t go to a restaurant all alone if i had the alternative to do so with company.

    So, there might be some connection in between the two, you are right. 🙂

  5. bhagpuss says:

    Hmm. I am terrible at answering Yes/No questions. I mean, it’s always situational and contextual, isn’t it? I love playing MMOs solo, in a duo, in small groups, in full groups, in open raids, in zergs. I don’t have any overriding preference.

    However, at any given time I may have a very strong preference indeed. If I’ve had a busy day at work and I’m tired I might want to solo and be very unwilling to do any kind of group content, but if I’ve just had breakfast on a Saturday morning and have the whole day ahead of me I might like nothing better than a few hours of solid group content.

    Do people really not change their minds on this constantly depending on their mood?

    As for eating out, well it’s much the same. I used to go on holiday on my own often and I ate out in restaurants alone every day – and drank alone in bars. I loved it. Nothing better than sitting in a busy cafe drinking wine, eating and reading a good book with the hubbub of conversation in a language you can’t understand all around you. I also love eating out in social groups of any size from two people to two dozen.

    All these things are huge pleasures. Why choose between them when you don’t need to?

  6. Jeromai says:

    In general, not really speaking of necessity or willingness to do either, I’m sure many people are open to doing both and can enjoy it as they are doing either.

    Just speaking of preference. Given no tiredness, no limitations like you’re traveling by yourself or the complexity of getting a whole bunch of people together, would you opt for one over the other?

  7. Interesting condensation of our recent debates.
    I would personally go out on a limb here and claim most anyone would go group play > soloing if there wasn’t the associated hassle and only positives to be had from social interaction. That last one is the most unpredictable. I understand that someone with very limited time might not want to compromise, waste time organizing or risk vexing social encounters.

    • Jeromai says:

      And you would be wrong there. 😉

      Speaking from the perspective of a very strong introvert, I spend a considerable amount of time trying to evade lunchtime company. It’s more peaceful for me to recharge with only myself and my thoughts, and people watch or enjoy a nice book, but extroverts tend to feel a bounden duty to make sure -everyone- feels included in the group, including the introvert fake smiling and making small talk to be civil (learned behaviors all) while wishing they could be someplace else.

      Seeing as a rough 3 of 4 people tend more toward extroversion (and/or building relationships) though, you’re probably not wrong in saying a majority would like additional company while doing stuff.

      • I see what you mean. although if we’re talking winding down specifically, that would qualify as situational to me as inferred by Bhagpuss. And when it comes to that in particular, extroverts just like introverts need time to recharge and use alone time to decompress. I too use mmos for this. Just wanted to point that out. 😉

  8. Xannziee says:

    I hate to play alone, in all worlds
    :0)

  9. […] Random Thought About Solo Play And Aloneness – What appeared as a very short post about gaming alone in large multiplayer worlds created some of the best discussion I’ve seen in a comment section in a long time! Jeromai has a true gift when it comes to interacting with her (?) community – fantastic stuff! […]

  10. soloblast says:

    1) Solo, with occasional moments of group play for various reasons (world bosses, guild missions, et al). Having a small group that I’m able to work with semi-regularly helps in the long term, in that we come together frequently enough to achieve a common goal, but spend the rest of the time doing our own thing (and everyone’s okay with that).

    2) Yes, although it depends on the location. Singapore? Yeah, nobody’s going to judge you for eating alone. London? More or less the same thing. Most of the cities in Japan? Not an issue either. Some town in the middle of the British countryside? Smaller community means that you might get some weird looks, so no. Broadly speaking, cities seem to be more catered towards the loner-eater, while smaller communities might find that strange.

  11. fireflyry says:

    MMO:I prefer it to be optional. I started GW2 50/50 but would now say I’m mostly solo because of friends that have moved on and the fact most group based content in GW2 is based on repetition of the same small amount of content which bores me to tears. Still grouping in open world with newbs when I can though which is great fun.

    (Would love a game like this to automatically group people, say when they play and complete content in close proximity for so long to then steer them towards harder content in the area….anyway tangent :P)

    Solo play also suits, I get maybe an hour or two after work to play so like to do what I want, not try and fit in or hope others share my goals or interests in the short time frame I have before the risk of lack of sleep and a grumpy day at work hiding from the boss the next day sets in.

    Doing so also usually means at least half my game time for that day/night is gone on waiting for people to get their shit together before the group actually starts doing something.Even worse when people come, then have to go, so start again, etc, etc.

    You present a strange analogy with the restaurant though as that, to me at least, the social aspect of dining out is more integral than the food hence it’s an unfair comparison as it implies social awkwardness when soloing in an MMO, or dining alone in such an enviroment. I would’nt go to a restaurant alone as I go to them to socialize, the fact food and wine is there is an added bonus 😛

    In that scenario I’d just cook myself something at home, not due to feeling awkward, but because theres no real need to place myself in a social enviroment if I’m not…socializing.

    A cafe enviroment would suit your anaolgy better, especially in regards to an MMORPG comparison, as it is far more common to dine by yourself without the the same implication of feeling socially awkward or out of place, your just part of the crowd.

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