What is Content?

There’s a lot of talk on the City of Heroes forums about Content. People talk about ensuring their characters permanently have XP debt so that they don’t outlevel their contacts, and can thus do more story arcs and see more Content. They talk about the developers’ stated goal that there be "too much Content" for any one character to see, meaning you would have to create an(other) alt to experience everything. They talk about concentrating on enjoying the Content as opposed to trying to gain XP and level up as fast as possible.

So just what is Content, in this context?

Missions, I suppose. Not just any old missions, though. Missions from contacts that form a story arc. Running missions for contacts is Content whereas taking missions from the newspaper/police scanner is … what? Grinding? Powerlevelling? Yet the missions are effectively the same. It’s true that there’s only one Defeat Frostfire mission and only one Stop 30 Fir Bolg From Escaping mission but the majority of story arc missions are really no different from the infinite supply of newspaper capers you can get. A "defeat all" is the same regardless of whether you have to run across three zones to report your success to a contact.

Is it because newspaper missions are repeatable that they are seen as the inferior alternative to good, honest, Content? Because they’re just for racking up some XP and don’t compare to the immersion of the backstory that the seven other people on the team never get to read? Because you don’t get a souvenir and a bucketful of XP at the end?

Personally I don’t consider missions of any sort to be Content. Jumping into the same map I’ve seen over and over again and slaughtering everyone there isn’t Content, whoever gave me the mission and however fun it may be. You can do that in any game (well maybe not Face of Mankind). Content for me is fighting fires in Steel Canyon. It’s trapping ghost pirates in Port Oakes. It’s hunting Giant Monsters. It’s bouncing around the Shadow Shard on the gravity geysers. It’s the things you can only do in this one game that qualify as its Content.

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