For a long time now, video games have been criticized for teaching bad lessons. They’ve been accused of making kids less social and more violent. These naysayers, however, have ignored the larger picture, which is that games, like any other medium, preach a variety of lessons, both good and bad. Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to create what will hopefully become a series that examines the various lessons I’ve taken away from our favorite medium, one game at a time. For our inaugural article, let’s examine the biggest thing to hit the MMO scene recently that didn’t involve pandas: Guild Wars 2.

Travel Like A Tourist (At least, if you want to see everything)

Yes, that’s very pretty, but hurry up; we still have 12 Vistas to go

When you’ve lived in an area for a little while, you tend to learn where the nicest spots are. Whether its a secluded path in the woods, a vacant stretch of beach, or even a nice place to grab a bite off the beaten path, you appreciate these things because you’ve slowly discovered them over time. Then you go on vacation, and there’s not enough time in the day to see everything. You rush from place to place, relying on your trusty guide to show you the most efficient path to each objective. Guild Wars 2 is more like that. From the lush jungles of Metrica Province to the icy passes of Snowden Drifts, players could spend hours exploring each sprawling area without finding everything there is to see. Luckily, players can just look at their handy in-game maps, which marks all the things of note with large, brightly colored icons. This means that players looking to 100% an area can easily tell where they haven’t been yet. It also lets the artists make sure that players can appreciate every painstaking detail that they put into creating every inch of the world. Now sure, I’ve run through several points of interest with my map pulled up, keeping from even seeing the thing I’m passing. However, just like someone who sprints past the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial before leaving Washington D.C., I can now say that I’ve been to Vonooroovah in Bloodtide Coast, and that’s really all that matters.

OCD is a Learned Behavior

I must fight this pirate. But, this seasoned wood isn’t going to harvest itself…

I’ve always seen myself as a fairly laid back person. While I do appreciate a clean kitchen, I can live with some clutter and mess without going into fits too often (just ask my roommates). However, when entering a new area in Guild Wars 2, the first thing I do is check my map for the above-mentioned tourist traps. Having locked onto the nearest one, I will then sprint toward it, slaughtering any foolish lizards or trolls that might try to impede me. And God help me if there are any resources around; everything else is immediately downgraded in priority until that little patch of carrots has been properly harvested. I’ve left companions in the middle of battle to mine resources (they were fine…. I think). Every mechanic in the game, from the Crafting to the Daily Achievements, helps draw me a little further into the obsessed routine that WOW players have been trapped in for years. The worst part about it, though, is that I love every minute of it. It’s immensely satisfying to find every little secret of an area, or to finally gather enough materials so you can raise your cooking level. Oftentimes, I won’t even realize how sucked in I’ve become until I look at the clock and realize I’ve played until 2 a.m. Again.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Get Some More People

Yeah, this should be enough.

As a newcomer to MMO’s, I’ve never really gotten in the habit of roleplaying with others before. Guild Wars 2, however, quickly opened my eyes to the necessity of teamwork. The first time I was wandering around a field, gathering wood or killing bunnies (don’t judge me), and was suddenly murdered by a group of six or ten wolves, it was  a frustrating experience. Skill challenges and boss monsters are also pretty much impossible for a solo person to conquer most of the time. That’s what makes it all the more satisfying to come back with three or four other people and just dominate them. What’s especially cool in Guild Wars 2 is how, outside of story battles, an entire server can fight together against the same enemies. I’ve been fighting against a Veteran Cave Troll, just barely hanging on, when a cavalry of a dozen other players will swoop in and help me take it down. The way the game has been designed, it’s pretty much impossible for you to hinder anyone’s play experience, or vice versa. The worst thing that can happen is you just ignore someone, which I suppose is still kind of a dick move. However, in the vast majority of the times that I’ve fallen within reach of other players, they’ve stopped to revive me. While this might be because reviving someone gives a player experience, I’m just going to assume that its because they’re all awesome people.

There’s Always Time for a Dance Party

Always

With the game constantly reminding you that there are people to be saved, bandits to be chased off, science competitions to be won (Asura are awesome), etc., it’s important to relax every once in a while. After a long night of grinding the wilderness for experience and loot, it’s easy to just feel exhausted and burned out on killing bad things. To avoid that, I just go into town and try to level up my crafting abilities. Or, if I can’t get my cooking any higher because I STILL haven’t found apples yet, I just wander around the different areas and get unseen Vistas or Waypoints. The varying levels of intensity in Guild Wars 2 helps draw me in, regardless of how I might be feeling at the time. The best way to relax is by just cutting loose and dancing for a few minutes. This enjoyment is increased exponentially by having more people around. Invite random strangers, or arrange for dance parties with your guild. One of my favorite moments of Guild Wars 2 has been when random people started dancing with us in the middle of a field, while a ton of other people just ran by completing a quest.

Behold our dancing, and tremble. TREMBLE!

So, what do you think? Do you have any other lessons you’ve gotten by playing Guild Wars 2? Do you have any ideas for other games to look at? If so, please share them in the comments below.

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