What do I mean by “Pay it forward” and what does this statement have to do with massively multiplayer online role-playing games? Well, for starters, I’m a well-grounded bloke and I love helping people, and in the case of MMORPGs, other players, without expecting anything in return. A simple “Thank You” every now and then is appreciated but hardly necessary.
Whenever I help another player and get a message of thanks on the board, I always tell that player to pay it forward, meaning he or she should just repay the kindness that I have shown by helping others in need.
Here’s a brief history, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The concept was described by Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22, 1784:
I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. When you … meet with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by lending this sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go through many hands, before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.
The term “pay it forward” was coined, or at least popularized, by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951. But the entire world only took notice of the concept at the turn of the millennium when Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novel Pay It Forward hit not only bookshelves but also cinemas in a film adaptation produced and released by Warner Brothers.
Didn’t watch the film because you thought it was too mushy? Well, go grab a copy and practice what a young Haley Joel Osment (Mr. I See Dead People of The Sixth Sense fame) preaches. Instead of luring a boss monster to town so you can watch vending players wither and die from blasts of cones of frosts, why not put that brawn of yours to good use and help struggling players slay those boss monsters. Instead of scamming other players of their hard-earned gold, why not start a fund-raising drive to help hacking victims and start a campaign on account security awareness. Instead of putting down a rival in combat, why not make friends with him (or her) and find ways to counter each other’s flaws.
I know, I know. Easy to say, hard to do. But if a 12-year-old boy (however fictional he may be) can do it, I’m sure all of us can, too.