There is a hilarious article up on the Escapist on one MMO player's experience with Mabinogi, the Nexon free-to-play MMO that was released in North America earlier this year. I had to laugh because I'm not an MMO player and I've been having a culture shock experience of my own adjusting to a Western-style MMO. John Funk of WarCry admits that he's turned a blind eye to MMO offerings coming out of Asia, so a week in Mabinogi offered a lot of culture shock and total confusion:
So, as LALAa the 17-year-old human female entered the world of Mabinogi, I braced myself for whatever the game had in store for me.
Three hours later, I logged off feeling slightly like Gilligan and the Skipper - completely and irrevocably lost. I'd picked up the game's point-and-click interface fairly quickly (so I thought), but my confusion ran deeper than that. It wasn't even what I was being asked to do - the standard "go kill 10 (enemies)" or "bring me five (items)" are old hat to any MMOG player - as much as how I was being asked to do it.
While running aimlessly around the starting area, an owl suddenly flew by and dropped off a quest to bring five berries to a local NPC. I was baffled; what had I done to earn this quest? As far as I could tell, nothing, but a quest is a quest. The best way to gather berries in the world of Mabinogi, it turns out, is to attack bushes and trees over and over until they drop them - of course, they can also drop branches instead, I mercilessly clicked the local foliage in search of berries, unsure if I was doing this properly. What made me get a branch instead of a berry - was it random? Should I be focusing on bushes instead of trees? Upon gathering the berries and locating the NPC, I was informed that I'd taken too long to complete the quest, and it had expired. Naturally, I hadn't realised that the task was time-sensitive.
It felt like I was still in the tutorial phase, only they weren't explaining anything to me
After speaking to some avid Mabinogi players, Funk comes to the conclusion that he had approached the game in the wrong manner: it wasn't so much a Mabinogi problem as a problem of expectations. It's a funny look at getting outside your gaming comfort zone.
My Korean Fantasy Life [The Escapist]