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.