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

Ensemble Stars Music Ensemble Stars Music
"I believe societies are only in the foreign servers, but still worth mentioning"

Boom Beach Boom Beach
"Guilds require constant attention"

Eatventure Eatventure
""Guilds" are a recent addition and they have member list sorted by scores aka how much you have contributed. Scoring too low will run the risk of getting you kicked out since there is not even a chat feature to explain absences, so you need to work hard to remain important."

MARVEL Puzzle Quest MARVEL Puzzle Quest
"Most alliances require daily play"

Rise of Cultures Rise of Cultures
"Weekly alliance treasure hunts require everyone to play in order to get the best results. However, it is viable to play in an one-person alliance at your own pace (and I recommend it)"

Tiny Tower Tiny Tower
"There seems to be a lot of angst among players to visit their 256 friends each and every day (and send them as many "gifts" as you can). It used to be 100, which I found impossible to keep up with, and now at least a few players are asking for even more."

Coin Master Coin Master
"Has teams you can join and rewards based on your team's performance. Also has a chat option with your team"

War and Order War and Order
"Clans"

Fishdom Fishdom
"there is a chat function for the group you are in and people comment there as goals can only be achieved through collective play"

The Simpsons™: Tapped Out The Simpsons™: Tapped Out
"very slight feelings of obligation; the social interaction is extremely minimal and simple ("visit" somebodys town and leave a small bonus reward for them), but still notable enough to feel as if it matters."