Recently, I was walking through the crowded streets of an urban center with no destination in mind. I stepped on to a bus without enough space to sit, yet I could not help but notice how utterly alone I felt in that particular moment. Many people had earphones blasting their favorite music away, while others were texting or interacting through other social media. Still others were slumped over, fast asleep from a long day and tiring commutes, while I stood there amongst a sea of technology.
Incidentally, I was in a mood for interacting with strangers. You may call it a form of escapism, but that is what RuneScape essentially is. Thus, I logged on to my account and looked for a kind soul to chat with, if only to ease my boredom, while I sorted out my feelings. How wrong I was to choose RuneScape, of all things, to interact with people!
It started at Edgeville bank, continued at my next Slayer task, and remained the same all over the world. For a game which often boasts about its surging popularity, the world seemed to be effectively empty. Instead, my chat slowly filled up with endless advertisements of selling gold and gambling, prompting me to try a different location. All around me, I saw mindless bots or efficiency grinders who were, unfortunately, wordless. The only replies I received were occasional grunts of "lol afk". RuneScape truly mimics the real world well in some regards, and interaction with strangers seems to be one of them.
Am I the last man standing on a desolate plane, devoid of the friendly atmosphere I had known? Sadly, updates like Social Slayer did not greatly affect any of this, mainly because people soon deemed the update to be wasting their precious time. As much as I commend Jagex for their valiant attempt, updates simply cannot piece together an unwilling community. While group updates such as Dungeoneering seem to be working well on the surface, the reality is quite different. Prominent clans race through dungeons together, while the public Dungeoneering worlds, the worlds which are designed to help us interact with strangers, are notoriously bad for training Dungeoneering. Not only are the people there generally incompetent, they are also rude and ignorant. It is no wonder many people apply to clans as fast as they can to avoid these public disasters.
Now, it's perfectly fine to consciously choose to limit your own interactions in order to focus on a goal. That is your decision, but what if your decision can negatively affect the playing experience of everyone around you?
I suppose it all boils down to the fact that people simply are not worth talking to anymore. Once in a while, I meet someone whose presence I genuinely enjoy, and that person will become my friend. Most of the time, however, the people I meet are inconsiderate or plain silly. In this case, it is to be expected that people will talk to their established friends, talk to their clan mates, or not talk at all. Nevertheless, it certainly would not hurt to hold a decent conversation with a stranger once in a while.