Saturday, September 29, 2007

Curse Thee, World of Warcraft, for Thou Art Crack

One of the occupational hazards of being a fan of and deciding to do informal research on Virtual Worlds (or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games) is that once in a while, you land in one that is difficult to get out of. Sure, there are/were ones out there so unpleasant (Second Life) or dull* that the only thing keeping you in is the hope that maybe there's something interesting to be found. There are ones I think could have been great, but like an unhip nightclub or bar, nobody goes there (such as, ironicly, There.com)

I really don't consider myself a gamer. What hooks me usually is the social aspect, and in most worlds, I find myself having to break from the tools provided in order to enhance reality.** But then again, that's what reality is, no? Our collective perceptions of and responses to outside stimuli... Ok, I won't get all technical. But my point is -- if your virtual world is so dull that I have to use my creativity to make people have fun it, then maybe you didn't do your job. (Or you should have hired me, before it was too late!)

Really, I should have known better about World of Warcraft. The stories of people disappearing for months at a time. A friend of mine I met on There.com, originally a refugee from The Sims Online, found WoW after we both got tired of There.com and for a while I couldn't reach her at all (since I didn't really think I'd enjoy a "typical" fantasy role-playing game where you have to do errands for people). Two girlfriends of acquaintances of mine played so much WoW that they nearly lost their men. The Chinese young man who died because he played for days straight without drinking or eating. But pretty much everybody I work with (sans the ladies) plays it. A lady I met at a cartoon screening plays it (she's a Level 70 Guild Master!)

O Peer pressure, Curiosity, what have thou wrought?

Lucky for you, I will soon be descibing some of the adventures I've had as two different characters, Zordinath the Leatherworking Orc Hunter, and Latnenitnoc ("Continental" spelled backwards) the Herbalist Undead Warlock.

Stay tuned.

* ActiveWorlds circa 1996 anyone? Zzzzzzz. Though there are others, too many to mention here.

** For example, in Worlds Away (no longer available), you could only move around a pseudo-3D cardboard cut-out avatar through some nice planar spaces. The rest was just a standard chat screen. So I came up with a spontaneous convention with those I met for playing Tag that wasn't specified in the game itself.

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posted by Brian at 2:08 PM

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