community, ffxiv, final fantasy xiv, gatekeeping, MMO, mmo communities, mmo community, mmo games, mmorpg, mmorpgs, mmos, white knight, white knighting, xiv
I’m going to have to thank MOP’s editor in chief and my awesome boss Bree for this prompted post. We were talking in the work chat about how sad and dangerous it was when people wrap their entire identity around a single MMO or single game, and that got me thinking a lot about the topic.
If you’ve been even near gaming discourse on any platform or website, you pretty much know the type. They’re often referred to as “white knights” and usually charge headlong into keyboard battle to defend the honor of their favorite game and, by extension, their home. And while I can certainly appreciate the desire to battle back against misinformation or misconception, or even the need to argue online (in good faith, ideally), there’s also a point where it becomes clear that a home game — a place meant to escape to in comfort — turns into a fortress that must be protected against all comers.
In the case of the white knight, I kind of feel like this behavior comes from a place of at least initial good intention. They would like to share their enjoyment of a game and maybe even want others to hop in, but that can’t be done if people are dunking on their title, right? At some point, though, perspective is lost and all negative connotation to the home game is felt as an attack.
I sort of empathize with this kind of person, mostly because I’ve fallen into this trap myself. I kind of felt like I got close to this with WildStar until I eventually snapped out of it and realized that the game was on the chopping block. The fortress had already been crumbling around me, I was just too stubborn to admit defeat. And yes, that sucks initially, but it’s also freeing as well.
Of course this isn’t to suggest that all white knights are shielding failed games. This is definitely something that is done with the larger titles as well, and at some point it’s just better to stop trying to change someone’s mind about a game and just let them pass by. Sure, maybe they’re throwing verbal jabs at the home, but it’s still your home. I could dunk on EVE Online all day if I wanted to, but in the end they have their own things to worry about and my opinion rightfully shouldn’t register on their radar
This comes in a couple of varieties outside of the white knight as well, though those are the most common kinds of players. There’s also the gatekeepers who want to be sure that nobody new comes in because it will somehow taint or thin the stock of people playing the game. As if everyone who is a vet right now wasn’t a new player at some point months or years before.
This sort of behavior I can’t excuse. There’s literally no good reason why people should be disallowed from hopping into a game, and in this case I’m actually chiding myself here because I was worried that the World of Warcraft refugees were going to spoil the Final Fantasy XIV pot. Particularly since a certain livestreamer’s reputations preceded him when he was hopping into the game for the first time.
That said, I have to admit that my knee-jerk reaction appears to be pretty wrong here. If anything, it would seem like most WoW refugees are being changed by the overall vibe of the FFXIV community, which by and large is one of the better MMORPG communities I’ve experienced (not to suggest there are no a-holes, more like the balance is more leaning to the not a-hole side of things). Also, seeing people interact with this game for the first time is kind of charming and endearing and awesome. I kind of like how sprouts are working things out. Also, there’s this video I’m embedding of someone experiencing one of the game’s raid fights and it’s just SO GOOD to see.
Like, why would anyone want to halt that from happening? How is this not wonderful? Why was I so worried? Why should anyone be?
The point is, people — self included — should just enjoy their home more. And even share it. Because these games are never good when they’re barren or cultivated too much. And we should build a game up as a warm and inviting place of comforts and good things and cheer, not cold walls of stone meant to keep everyone out. I truly hope that this idea reaches people because it seems like more and more people are obsessed with crafting forts and raining fire on others’ battlements instead of having awesome house parties or grillouts. And if you ask me, delicious burgers of welcoming are more fun than angry cannonballs.
Playing a TINY bit of devil’s advocate, one other aspect of defending the castle is that the castle needs revenue/players if it is going to keep existing. So I can see taking on all comers if you feel like a game you’re invested in is kind of on the bubble and people are trashing it for no reason, because that Internet Hive Mind kicks in and then “everybody knows” the game is trash, which dissuades new people from even trying it, which leads to the game shutting down.
That’s the only semi-logical reason I can visualize, and even then it only really holds together in pretty specific situations. If a game is well established it doesn’t need that kind of ‘support’ and even if it does need that kind of support you have to defend the castle without becoming overly strident about doing so.
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