I am a 34-year-old woman, and I play Runescape. Sometimes as I sit here playing, I wonder where I fit in the demographics of “average player” and “target audience”. I honestly have no idea.
I do know there are more adults playing than most people outside the game would expect. There are a lot of us playing during the day, too. It makes you wonder why everyone has so much time on their hands.
I know why I have so much time. I run a small laundromat with my father. It can mean a LOT of quiet time that I have to fill. Luckily for me, I have the internet for amusement. I have become quite competent at finding things to do online. I have my ever-evolving assortment of sites and comics that I read daily.
I’ve also run through literally dozens of different games. At first, I just played the simple web-applet type stuff like on Yahoo or Popcap. I figured if I had to get up and walk away, it was no big deal. Then I started to look for things with more opportunities for accomplishment. For a while, I played some of the games where you raised various animals and tried to breed better ones. For the most part, I didn’t love their design (the one I did like, had poor management). I also played some turn-based games, but once you used up your turns there was nothing left to do.
Eventually I stumbled across a game I’ll call X to avoid advertising another game. I liked X because it was one game, with a lot of puzzle type games built in that represented various skills. Of course, your actions on these puzzles had little to do with the skills they represented, but that was not a problem. The entire game was built around player interaction. There was very little you could do without engaging at least another player. There was definitely nothing worth spending any time at that didn’t involve another player. Some activities required multiple players and these made permanent groups that continued to interact, combating against other groups and claiming territory. There was a lot of politics to this game.
The player interaction was great, and the games were fun, but that forced me to be committed to playing. I took a role of leadership, which is when things really became a problem. How could I lead an event if I might have to walk away from the computer? I had to take a step back and even though I retain my title, I am unable to effectively lead the group.
Along the way, one of my X friends mentioned that she also played Runescape. At first I paid no attention. Then I got bored with having my hands tied and figured I’d try it. I played solidly as a free player to about level 40. I alternated back and forth between the two games and settled back on X again for a while.
Then it happened. The same thing that happened on Runescape, but impossible to avoid: the Influx Of Immaturity. Runescape wasn’t the only multiplayer game that got added to a site and found itself flooded with ill-mannered players. On the other game there was no way to avoid interacting with other players. You had to play against someone and invariably you were met with some form of insult when you beat them. It got old, fast.
So I came back. I became a member. I found tons of new things to do and I watched as lots of newer things were added. Sometimes I try some other new game or go back to an old one for a little variety, but I’ll always come back. Why? Because I know I can sit down to play and always find something to do. Because if I have to walk away, I can and I won’t be penalized. Because I can play alone if I want to.
Does this mean I think Runescape is great because it’s geared towards the antisocial player who thinks nothing of bailing out on the game? Nope. I think Runescape is great because it’s completely adaptable. There’s a ton of variety and constant, visible development. It’s able to meet my needs as well as the needs of hardcore gamers. It’s an excellent game structure and a good reason why Runescape will likely be around for many more years.