Saturday, July 15, 2006

Living Virtually

Today's quote: That you can lose yourself. Everything. All boundaries. All time. That two bodies can become so mixed up, that you don't know who's who or what's what. And just when the sweet confusion is so intense you think you're gonna die... you kind of do. Leaving you alone in your separate body, but the one you love is still there. That's a miracle. You can go to heaven and come back alive. You can go back anytime you want with the one you love.

I have had a most awful love-hate relationship with a few games. Mostly, it's been World of Warcraft, but in small part it has also been with the Sims. It's a love-hate kind of thing because the concept in both games is to improve your character so that it becomes more powerful-- hopefully something near the top of the food chain. I guess I can't stand the irony of you are playing a game designed upon the idea of improving yourself and gaining skills, and yet in real life you sit there pouring your energy into something virtual while the rest of the world passes you by.

What is it about these types of games? At times I hate World of Warcraft with every part of my soul. I despise how much time it takes from improving the real me, not the character I play on a screen. I hate how people I know try to plan things around holidays going on in the game, or other special events. I keep telling myself that a person plays a game for fun, and that's really the only objective. However, I guess I find myself wishing that WoW was not quite so immersive...that it didn't draw you in with its siren song. I have fun playing Warcraft also, and sometimes I'm relieved that it's a game that only plays in rounds, it's not something based on a cumulative improvement/leveling goal. You only play the game at that time, and when that round is over, the next time you play you start over from scratch, as does everyone else in the game. It's what I have tried to play to escape playing WoW so much. But then, I resent the fact that I'm playing another computer game to keep myself from playing WoW. It's like falling back on a lesser narcotic in the attempt of trying to wean myself off an addiction to heroin.

By contrast, WoW is one of the most multi-faceted role-playing games out there because the game offers you any number of things that you can do in game. One of the primary goals is to level your character so that it becomes more powerful, but there are other things you can choose to do also. You have professions you can choose to gain skill in; hell, you can even choose to become an expert fisher by spending all your time fishing in the rivers and lakes in that world. At times, I feel overwhelmed with all the things that I perceive my character should become able at. This is when the irony starts to strike me as cruel, because I then begin to muse over how much effort or time I spend trying to gain skills for something, that in the end, doesn't really matter. What does matter?