With all the new SWTOR media coming out from PAX East, are we forgetting to attract people from outside the mmorpg communities?

Like many of you, I am eagerly awaiting the release of SW:TOR and avidly soak up as much information as I can find about the game and have even started recruiting for my own guild using the new guild management web tool.


So, whilst at a friend’s house for a network gaming weekend I thought I’d use some of the Bioware media to try and “convince” my closest friends that they really do need to get on board with this game. They were positively wowed by the cinematic trailers and, being Star Wars fans, lapped up everything about the Jedi and Sith elements. “I think this may have worked” I thought to myself. Then I made what turned out to be a fatal mistake……


You see, these guys have been playing LAN and online games as long as I have, but have never embraced the MMORPG genre. They respect my passion and enthusiasm for these games and appear to show interest in my various online escapades, but have just never taken the plunge and tried it for themselves. SWTOR is the closest I’ve come to convincing them and I would dearly love to game with these guys in a Star Wars environment.


I fired up the latest media I had, the Taral V Developer Walkthrough. “This will get them for sure”. They sat and watched it with me, commenting on how good it looked and asking a few pertinent questions based on the developer commentary, but then my best friend said something that really shocked me. “The game looks amazing, but there’s no way I would be able to play something like that…” I was speechless, what was so complicated about what was occurring on screen? Then it hit me. How much do we take for granted about this genre of gaming?


Think about it for a moment. What we saw was a video of several different players playing different roles within a small team structure. The developer explained the roles they were supposedly undertaking but did it really make sense to someone from outside of the traditional mmorpg fanbase?


As fans of this genre we read developer blogs, chat in forums and share our knowledge with each other, but what do “outsiders” make of it all? Examining the media we have been supplied with so far, it seems very tailored to existing fans of this game style but, as appeared to my friend, could be off-putting to others. What about the forums we populate? We pride ourselves on our knowledge and analysis and talk about every aspect of the games we love in minute detail. But what do these “outsiders” see? Truthfully? Probably nothing as they aren’t even there, having already been put off by the discussions that may as well be about quantum mechanics or astrophysics.


What do they get from the currently available information? They can watch pretty cinematic films that possibly do not resemble the game they would actually play. Detailed breakdowns and analysis about the roles each class can play within the game, but do they even know what a tank or dps role even is? Lets be honest here, much of the discussion over the Taral V video has been about how poor the players performed these roles. What does that say about attracting new people?


So what’s my point? How do we get these people on board? What can we, as fans and enthusiasts, do to sell this game to our friends and colleagues? It is, after all, in our own interests to bring more people into the game. I wish I had the answer, because I’ve got 5 friends sitting on the sidelines that I want to recruit into my guild, and turn into the hardcore psychotic PvP players that I know are within them.