Social Obligation / Guilds

To avoid letting down your friends, you are obligated to play when you don't want to.

Many massively multiplayer online (MMO) games allow people to band together into groups, sometimes called teams, guilds, clans or factions. Often, much of the game is inaccessible until you have joined a guild, making it somewhat mandatory to play as part of a team. For many games of this type, solo-play is not an option.

If you have joined a guild, or if you have linked your friends into the game via a social pyramid scheme, you may start to feel social pressure to play the game more than you would have otherwise. If your team is depending on you to pull your weight in the game, you will play out of sense of obligation rather than a sense of enjoyment. The game becomes a chore and it becomes difficult to stop playing because you would be disappointing your friends.

This is often combined with the Playing by Appointment dark pattern. For example, the team may have a raid or other event scheduled for 10:00am. Because players don't want to let their team down, they may rearrange their schedule or play the game when they should be at work or doing something else important. A player on vacation may be desperate to find a WiFi connection so they can login and support their team.

Sometimes social obligation can be combined with the Pay to Win dark pattern. If your team is highly competitive and other team members are spending money to purchase the best items, there is a strong social pressure for you to also spend money to acquire the same items. You don't want to be seen as a slacker who isn't pulling their own weight. It isn't unheard of for the top guilds in some games to have a requirement of spending a certain amount per month on the game.

The feeling of obligation to someone else is a very strong motivator to play the game and can cause a lot of stress for the player.


Examples

Star Trek Timelines Star Trek Timelines
"You're encouraged to log in everyday to help defeat the Doomsday Machine; it can make you feel guilty to forget."

Shining Nikki Shining Nikki
"I have to sign into my guild every day or I can get kicked. This is subjective depending on how serious your guild is though."

Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade Rise of Kingdoms: Lost Crusade
"Teams/Alliances are a big part of the game."

Phase 10: World Tour Phase 10: World Tour
"There are multiplayer guilds that get you ingame rewards for playing alongside, and those rewards almost equal real world money powerups."

Immortal Diaries Immortal Diaries
"Encourages joining an "alliance" and contains events relating to them"

Food Fantasy Food Fantasy
"Only within my guild. It doesn't necessarily involve much teamwork, but I do feel compelled to log in and do the daily things for the sake of my guild."

Egg, Inc. Egg, Inc.
"The base game does not have this, but there are all kinds of challenges that require heavy-lifting players who are almost constantly active to complete the challenge."

MEGA MAN X DiVE - MOBILE MEGA MAN X DiVE - MOBILE
"Guilds are have dailies that give rewards depending on how much was donated that day."

Bloons TD 6 Bloons TD 6
"Contested territory is an optional times events where players have limited plays for the mode each day and must work together. Unused plays can be used by anyone on the team though."

June's Journey: Hidden Objects June's Journey: Hidden Objects
"Early in the game you will be asked to join a detective club. It is optional, but the game constantly reminds you that it’s an option and tries to make it appealing. Clubs also have pressure to regularly play and provide gifts to others."