I was instant messaging a friend the other day who had recently quit Runescape and he asked me if I still find the game fun. I replied with a “yes,” and we briefly continued on the subject but the conversation quickly moved on. A little while later I looked back on his question and thought to myself, “Why have I been playing this game all these years?”
Before I continue, I’d like to give a bit of background on my time on Runescape. I started out in free to play in the summer of 2004 and like many, I took the occasional break, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Something always kept dragging me back. Then in August of 2011 I decided to buy membership and finally experience all of what Runescape has to offer. As I look back on that decision now I am glad I did it, as I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve spent “Scaping”.
But back to the topic at hand, why after almost 8 years since starting this game do I continue to log on just about every day? Now some may just say I’m addicted, but I think the reason I keep coming back for more is because how multifaceted Runescape really is. It isn’t purely a grind to max out your character as fast as you can. For the most part, it can be a single player game all on its own. With 25 skills to train, 181 quests to complete, several tasks sets, and endless minigames and activities, I never find myself running out of things to do. But even beyond that, it is a social experience. Runescape involves interactions with other real people, whether it be skilling together, taking on a boss or another group of players, or just plain chatting. Not only are there direct interactions with these other players, but Runescape has its own economy, featuring a grand exchange, that links thousands of people across all worlds together, whether they know it or not.
When most people think about Runescape, one of the very first things that comes to mind is leveling all the skills. Skilling and leveling up one’s character is a common aspect of almost any MMORPG or RPG that you will find, so why do I find Runescape’s system so much more enjoyable? I think the biggest difference when you look at Runescape and other games is how many skills Runescape has and the length of time required to level and eventually max each of them. In many games you can find yourself maxing your character in anywhere from ten to forty days of gameplay, whereas in Runescape achieving a max cape for the average player takes hundreds of days played. Now this may scare many players off from ever dreaming of getting 99 in all skills or even one skill for that matter, but I see it differently. Whether it be reaching 99 in any given skill, leveling all your skill above a certain milestone, or just gaining a level that unlocks a new item, the longer amount of time put in to skilling provides me with a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I feel that the more and more I train, the more adept I am becoming at that particular skill, rather than feeling like I am grinding away for no apparent reason. The other reason I find Runescape’s skilling system so unique is the interdependence between all of the skills. Sure you can just buy supplies or pieces of armour from another player or the grand exchange, but I find if I refrain from doing so and collecting the supplies myself, I get more enjoyment out of it. Yes this may not be the fastest way of doing things, but when you are done you will surely have gained more xp from gathering the things yourself, but more importantly the satisfaction of knowing you did it all with the abilities of your own character, and not with those of another.
Even beyond the pure skilling Runescape has a lot to offer in terms of quests, minigames, and so much more. Quests are often one of the most hated things by many Runescape players, but I for the most part enjoy them all. There are a handful of quests that lack a developed storyline, but overall I think the storylines and lore behind most of the quest series are quite interesting. Although it may be difficult for the stubborn quester, if you can interest yourself in the storyline behind the quest, doing it becomes less of a chore and more of the adventure it was intended to be. And even if you don’t find the extremely riveting, as I have done more and more quests during my time as a member, I have been amazed at how much of Runescape has been opened up by quests and I can’t imagine how much more difficult the game would be if I decided not to do them. I like to think the same way about the task system. It may seem a bit silly to just run around an area doing various tasks, however I find myself learning where the best places to train certain skills or obtain certain items are in any particular area. When you find yourself not wanting to train or do these quests, there are more minigames in Runescape than most of us even know about or have visited. They provide a good way to just have fun and do some good ol’fashioned fighting or give alternatives to training to make skilling an easier process.
The “massively multiplayer” aspect of Runescape is what really makes it shine. Working with other players can make skilling more fun or killing bosses faster and easier and in the end, they provide an audience to share your accomplishments with. The Runescape community is often criticized as being young and immature, but if you try hard enough, it isn’t too difficult to find like-minded players to play and develop relationships with. Plus, if you look hard enough, you might just find a nice community to settle down in to and make even more friends. One of the things that pulled me in to the game, even before the grand exchange, was the economy of Runescape. Although the implications are insignificant in comparison, the trading done through and at the grand exchange reminds me of a real life stock exchange. Any aspiring merchant must know the street price of an item compared to its listed price in the grand exchange, as well as where that price is going in order to successfully make his or her money. Though many players are completely oblivious to the workings of the Runescape economy, players who can learn how it works and how to manipulate it, find themselves making an easy profit. Whether you agree or not with these money making methods, the essence of reality in them makes them all the more interesting to me.
With all these different aspects of the game, one can hardly say that they have “finished” Runescape. No matter what my current goals are, whenever I reach them there will always be another unlock to train towards, a quest to complete, or a task to do. This is why I feel I have been playing all these years and will probably continue to play until Jagex shuts the game down. I hope that you can find all of these parts of Runescape as entertaining as I do and I look forward to seeing you out there in the adventure.