There is no doubting that we have had some impact on the Living World through events like the election of Ellen Kiel. ArenaNet has also proven that they keep track of metrics like how much money was donated to Hobo-Tron as compared to Marcello DiGiacomo. These aspects prove that we have had some influence in the Living World but the question is: are we major components to the Living World?
My argument is that we don’t matter to the story that is being told by the Living World. We exist as side characters that further influence the plots of the major characters. Our failure or success doesn’t matter to the story of Tyria, but the achievements of the Iconics and B-Iconics are all that truly matters to the major story that ArenaNet is trying to tell.
To emphasize this we should look to the story of the Tower of Nightmares. We were encouraged to tackle the Tower to inject anti-toxin into the core of the Tower to raise an arbitrary bar that was part of the over-all quest. It is hard to say how many injections were necessary to raise the bar, or if it was just on a timer, but the goal was to raise the bar. This meant, to me, that there was no failure for the story. The story was going to continue regardless if it took a month to raise that bar fully and was fully willing to ignore the fact that these poisonous spores were capable of killing off the average citizen.
Furthermore the discovery, infiltration and eventual take down of the Tower of Nightmares had almost next to nothing to do with our ability. Kasmeer and Marjory discovered the Tower and found a way to attack into the Tower. The conclusion of the Tower even further belittled our involvement as it was clear we were only hitting an illusory core of the Tower and not actual attacking the real target. Anything we did only helped them achieve their goal.
Even now, in the midst of the Escape from Lion’s Arch story, there is no such thing as failure or victory. Regardless of how we interact with it the story is clear enough to say that these people will come out of the toxic Lion’s Arch and these other people will die. If we all sat in a corner and absolutely refused to participate in any event or save a single citizen the only outcome would be that we don’t get any loot. The story is going to progress as it is meant to and the players are only bit parts in that story.
This isn’t an opinion to say that I hate the story telling to come out of ArenaNet. This is an opinion to say that I know they can do better if they add the feel of repercussions on the players’ choices. If they came to us and said,” Alright. You want a new hub city? You have clear out Southsun Island of Karka by wiping out X many Karka and eggs in two weeks or else we won’t give you a final dynamic event to finally push the Karka off into the abyss of the ocean.” There are no achievements to encourage us to even meet this goal, either. It is all literally in the players’ hands to get this done just for the sake of having a new hub city. That would be the way to make me feel like I’m part of a Living World that cares about my existence.
I want to feel like I’ve made more of an impact than for voting for a politician. I do enough voting as is to feel the impact of that decision. Give us the reigns for a Living World decision, ArenaNet. Let us feel like a major player to a story by leaving the decision of one story in our hands. That is how you make a Living World for players, ArenaNet.