Mincing Minions in MMOs

I cannot stand minions or other cosmetic pets in games. I am unsure which MMORPG deserves the blame for first coming up with the idea. I know World of Warcraft deserves much of the blame for popularizing and expanding it, at the very least. Many of you may love them, but I would sincerely pay a fee to have them auto-hidden in whatever MMORPG I am playing. Here is a list of reasons why I think these things should be destroyed.

Immersion Breakers

In some circles, immersion is either a bad word or something a MMORPG genre-equivalent to a senile grandfather talks about. Given that I am the latter, immersion remains important to me even when it is less important to other players and developers.

Minions rarely have a justified in-lore existence. Sure, there may be some flavor text, but it’s a typically a nod-and-a-wink away from having one too many martinis. It seems an odd thing to celebrate a people-killing villain by turning him into a small toy, don’t you think? Even weirder when it’s a villain from an entirely different universe.

And, sure, some minions do make sense in lore – many are pets or other animals. Other creatures, like baby versions of vicious monsters, make less sense. You are telling me everyone in town is cool with a future gelatinous cube slipping behind you? That thing must be a little acidic! I suppose it could be citric acid, and thus function like Pine Sol, but still. Yes, it is a world of fantasy and make belief, but no homeowners association or apartment complex in existence (fictional or otherwise) is going to be down with a corehound. “Sir, your service animal cannot breathe fire. That’s just common sense.”

Visual Overload

When everyone has crazy armor with sparkles or other effects, giant mounts that make even less sense than most minions, AND minions, then something needs to go.

Walking through a crowd of other players is a nightmare in most MMORPGs these days. Can you imagine what that world would even smell like? Not that the dark ages were squeaky clean, but I doubt dragons smell like scented candles, everyone is probably soaked with stale sweat from the giant shoulder pads and fireworks going off over their head, and then you add in a corgi minion you kept in your magic pocket for the last month because you favored a different minion?

Back in my day, people who sat around at the bank all day to show off their amazing gear were rare enough that it did shock you to see certain items or other collectibles “in person”. Nowadays, everyone has everything. My eyes bleed every time I go to town from the absolute dissonance of a decade+ of increasingly convoluted armor design and a bevy of wild mounts and minions that can cost over a hundred dollars each. At least with no minions I can see the mailbox a little easier.

They Are Dumb

I do not think any of you are dumb for enjoying them. I get the drive to collect them. I also like some of their designs. However, to me, they are stupid.

Beyond the immersion breaking and visual overload, I never got their appeal. They rarely add anything to an in-game character and they are not rare enough (in most cases) to do the whole “look at me and my really rare toy” thing well. I try to imagine the equivalent in D&D, but most minions would not be allowed in a campaign and the few that are would likely need to have a narrative reason for existing and would come with useful functionality.

By contrast, in MMORPGs, they only function as trophies and knick-knacks. Despite having collectibles in my home, I don’t think I will ever get to the point that I am a little grandmother with Precious Moments dolls on every shelf and in each corner. Likewise, I am not very interested in having an immersion breaking minion adding visual noise as it flies after my character who is supposedly good but is being followed by another universe’s Hitler-equivalent monster.

Author: C. T. Murphy

Part-time writer, sometimes blogger.

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