I was recently reading a thread on the forums for The Escapist, an online gaming newspaper. The thread was called “Secret gaming confessions”, and it asked posters to post some. As I read the thread, I saw things like “I enjoy watching people play Viva Pinata out of curiosity” or “I’ve never played *insert famous game/game series here*.” Continuing through the thread, I also noticed a few posts of “I still play/once played RuneScape” as secret gaming confessions.
If you frequent gaming forums/communities other than ones based around RuneScape, you’ll see lots of RuneScape hate. Everything from the nothing-but-click gameplay to the graphics (which may be seeing some improvement soon, judging on the Images of the Future) to the player base are criticized. Sometimes the hatred is for all MMORPGS, but some is directed to solely RuneScape.
To make it simple, RuneScape is a poor-looking game with a demographic of about age 10, and repetitive gameplay. What keeps us playing it? Is it the variety? Is it the fact that while other players appear to be dropping in age, our friends still play it? If we all wanted something with better graphics and less grinding, we’d go play Guild Wars.
However, there is still something about RuneScape. Not only can it be free or paid for very cheaply, RuneScape runs in a browser. This makes it very accessible to players, even if they don’t have a Monster Computer of the Future. Jagex has also partially eliminated the common style of “kill x number of x monster and give spoils to x person for a reward” in MMORPG quests. If you still like doing that but want to play RuneScape, you can do the Slayer skill, which still varies from that standard. One of the big drawing points to RuneScape is the freedom of choosing what to train. There are 24 skills for members, involving different things. While the combat skills basically boil down to the same thing, only using a different attack style or weapon, the other skills are varied. Some skills support each other, such as mining supporting smithing or woodcutting supporting fletching. These skills all have the same mechanics: Click and watch the same animation of your character do something over and over again, but they have a certain appeal. “Skills” in other games are mainly all the same thing in the same locations. World of Warcraft has also managed to pull off the idea well, but the subscription fee is definitely keeping it from most of RuneScape’s audience.
The general opinion is that World of Warcraft is the MMORPG to play. It supposedly boasts better graphics, better gameplay, more things to do, bigger world, better community, etc. At one point I decided to take a trial version of WoW and test it out for myself. Upon creating my Night Elf Mohawk (just kidding, it was actually a Night Elf Warrior) I was given a bit of a tutorial by Slimppu, a fellow RSBANDB member and RuneScape retiree. He took me running through some areas populated with different monsters. The first thing I noticed was that the game was not populated by a tutor for everything, like RuneScape. It’s something that speaks about the games in a subtle way. RuneScape has more to do at the very beginning, and it also has a younger demographic. World of Warcraft takes a bit more effort before you get to do other things, and the demographic is old enough to discover what clicking on different things can do.
While RuneScape isn’t considered the “l33t3st” of online MMORPGs, Jagex have managed to turn a simple Java game into something millions of players enjoy. RuneScape is not anything to be ashamed of in my opinion, as it has things available for everyone to play. With that note, I confess a not-so-secret gamer confession. My name is Dan, and I play RuneScape.