Superstitions in MMOs

Video Games

B. F. Skinner

Normally I try to resist the urge to make a post devoted entirely to linking to another article; adding the Google Reader widget was supposed help me develop discipline in that regard. However, this post about superstitions in MMORPGs from The Daedalus Project was just too excellent and funny to pass up.

Embarassing confession #1: I played Final Fantasy XI for over 2 years. As such, I can attest to the fact that the superstitions profiled in this article are held as articles of faith for most players. For instance:

One of the most persistent superstitions (and for all I know, it might be true) was that facing in certain cardinal directions would affect how your crafting came out. It was the perfect superstition, because it took so little effort to follow that even if it wasn’t true, you didn’t lose anything by acting as if it was true.

Whenever trying to make an item with a particular kind of Crystal, there were rumors that if your character was standing and facing, for example, Southeast with a Wind Crystal, they would be less likely to fail the synthesis and lose the crystal and items. I even once saw an entire investigative guide that said the directions to face were linked to the time of day in-game, and that each crystal had its own favored ‘direction’ depending on the time of day.

Embarrassing confession #2: Not only do I remember reading that guide, I timed my crafting to it more than once. One of the most prolific and succesful crafters on the Odin server (Mikesjustice) absolutely swore by it, claiming that’s how he made so many HQ Haubergeons. I also remember eating a Lucky Egg in Dynamis on the off-chance that it might improve the odds of a Sorcerer’s Petasos dropping, another silly superstition.

However, after laughing at the superstitions from other MMOs, I realized that the beliefs I held in FFXI were equally stupid. I believe I was aware at the time that they were dumb, but since most of them were easy to follow I did so “just in case”. As the author put it:

Other people’s superstitions always seem crazier. When reading through the superstitions, I felt more sympathetic towards ones in games I’ve played and more likely to laugh at superstitions in games I haven’t played. But, of course, most of the superstitions are incredibly similar across games and I think reading superstitions from other games will help us think more seriously about the ones in the games we do play.

If you’ve ever played an MMORPG, I strongly urge you check out the whole thing, and even if you haven’t the stories will give you a good laugh. Enjoy!

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