Sunday, July 19, 2009

Are Dogs Like MMORPG Players?

Last week, I discussed how MMORPG's are like dogs. After having picked up our new dog, a dark brown Boxer/lab/mix, I'm now prepared to address the question of how dogs are like players of MMORPG's. To illustrate the discussion, I'm going to borrow Arbitrary's old animal posting gimmick from Book of Grudges.


Meet Meg, who appears to have decided to roll as a subtlety rogue (note the lurking in the shadows under the table, and the bandanna). People say that WoW has been dumbed down, but apparently a 10-month old dog can't solo the Deadmines just yet, so she's going to have to wait a bit to get a [Red Defias Mask]

Effort/Reward
Since the last time I had a dog, people have apparently invented dog toys that you can put biscuits into, so that the dog has to work to get the treat out. Unfotunately, Meg has apparently been reading a bit too much of her owner's blog, because she has quickly concluded that our little treat dispensing ball is too much work for too little reward.

The Quest Hub/Camp Mentality
Meg is a bit of a nervous dog, having ended up at a rescue after some tough times as a puppy. When we brought her home and showed her the cage and bed we had set up for her, she went right in and didn't want to come out for a while. Eventually, she got brave enough to venture out and explore the room. Then she went out into the next room, quickly darting back to the safety of her nest when startled by anything (dogs barking across the street, whatever).

The next day, she'd grown a bit more comfortable, learning to hide under the coffee table (pictured above) when the people-folk were out in the living room. From her new home base, she would venture to the kitchen, the deck, or the study, returning to the living room often. After a while of that, I lured her down into the basement with some treats so I could set up the TV. She was initially a bit freaked out to discover that there was yet another room in the house, but, after I showed her around a bit, she set up her next little base on the couch across from the TV and explored the basement from there. Finally, I talked her into setting up yet another camp underneath my computer desk, so that she can sleep at my feet when I'm gaming.

This all sounds suspiciously like the quest hub structure of WoW and its descendants. Players explore the area, with frequent return trips to the questgivers, before being given a breadcrumb quest that leads to the next location. I suspect that Meg would do well with WoW if I could teach her how to type.

Exploration and Socialization Are Their Own Rewards (Sometimes)
Though she remains nervous around unfamiliar people and locations, Meg appears to be genuinely curious to explore. After only a few minutes, she decided that she actually likes us and took to following one or the other of us around the house whenever possible. She's also markedly less nervous when returning to locations she's already explored - we spent the weekend establishing a walk route, and this seems to have helped her calm down a bit outside.

She also seems to have grasped the concept of seeing what level mobs con at. There's this pair of vicious-sounding Chow Chows living next door to us, who have a nasty habit of barking and pawing at the ground by the fence between their yard and ours. Like any good not-so-risk-adverse MMORPG explorer, Meg is very curious to check out that side of our yard. That doesn't mean she won't pop sprint (and hopefully not her owner's wrist clean out of its socket) to high tail it out of there if the resident high levels wander by.


Like any good rogue, our dog is getting used to odd camera angles while doing melee DPS.

1 comment:

Bristal said...

Awesome post! Our little border collie was a rescue. We've had her 6 months and now she's Queen of Dalaran. She rolled a mage as crowd control is definitely her forte. Everything is either a sheep to be bossed around, or a mob to be wary of.