By Akshay Kolte, Executive Producer
Games, mainly MMOs, are a powerful medium for social interaction. They present a unique avenue for the exchange of culture, ideas and experiences. But, if left unchecked, these very same experiences can often become cesspools of toxicity.
In most cases, toxicity does not occur because people are bad - but rather due to miscommunication and a lack of awareness. The anxieties and frustrations of our daily lives emerge as unbridled comments spreading negativity like a field of thorns. When it comes to social games, the perceived lack of skill, mistrust, language barriers and fear of being judged contributes to a form of social anxiety plaguing player interactions. It discourages players from fully engaging with each other.
As creators of social games, it is, therefore, our responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that the world we build eschews toxicity, fosters camaraderie and bridges cultural divides. At ETLOK studios, we strive to uphold these values. Massively multiplayer games hold the promise for players to shed the exasperations of their daily lives and dive into adventures with random people from around the globe that they would rarely meet in real life. If nurtured well, we can create an environment where players set aside their differences and work towards a common purpose - something the real world severely lacks today.
The journey towards mental wellness is a maze with multiple intersecting pathways. As a result of our personal experiences and our team's collective research and learnings, we have realized that tackling this maze requires a holistic approach. It is not limited to simply building therapeutic gameplay; instead, the principles of mental wellness are ingrained into our core philosophy. It applies just as much to the content we create as it does to our interactions as a team.
Achieving wellness, for us, is a culmination of a myriad of goals that impact top-level business decisions down to minute game design choices. For example, our core values ensure that we will never use pay-to-win or pay-for-convenience monetization models nor progress limiting micro-transactions. Additionally, our game design principles ensure that we prevent unhealthy behaviour in-game like spending hours incessantly clicking to buy a house or repeated grinding to appease the RNG-gods to procure top-level gear.
Building a fantastic game and promoting mental well-being are not mutually exclusive. We believe that by removing the barriers to inclusivity, discarding experiences that induce social anxiety, and promoting an environment of mutual respect, we can enrich a gameplay experience. But the most essential part of this process is listening to feedback from you - our community. We would love to hear your positive or negative experiences with MMOs, including suggestions and thoughts on improving our offering.
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