I’ve compared notes with a few other people who play MMOGs the same way, and the phrase that I keep coming back to is “I don’t just want to play alone; I want to play alone with other people around.” And I think that’s it. Other people in a game do more than just provide opponents, or someone to converse with, get to know and leave your spouse for. They’re just as much part of the experience as the level design and the thousands of wandering monsters; they all go together to create the atmosphere. Even if you’re only watching from a distance as they run back and forth between the inns, shops and questing areas, people give the impression of a bustling, breathing world that would otherwise seem empty and dead.