A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Live Another Life

-- By Special Libertarian Librarian Correspondent John Heeder

All right, enough about rape and genocide and what not. Let’s talk escapism for awhile. Let’s talk MMORPGs, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games. MMORPGs are catching on. They’re huge, they’re profitable. And they’re not just for sweaty-palmed nerds.

A MMORPG is basically a computer game played online with thousands of other people. The role playing bit comes in as you create a character in a virtual world, and then take that character through adventures and challenges of various types, with the goal of becoming ever more powerful and skilled.

The single greatest thing the MMORPG has over more traditional single player or multiplayer games is human interaction. Real people are your allies, and your opponents. No computer characters can possibly match the reactions and interactions you experience with other people in this environment.

In the MMORPG I play, World of Warcraft, I have experienced moments that I’ll never have (at least I hope I never have!) in real life. For example; a few days ago I was the sole member of my faction visiting a merchant in an outlying town. Suddenly and without any warning, the town was swarmed with members of the enemy faction. I could only cower in the upstairs of a building as the raiders wiped everyone out and then went on their way. I found myself wondering if this was what it felt like to be on the wrong side as Genghis Khan’s Mongols swept over everyone in their path, or perhaps watching as Vikings sacked a coastal town.

Then there’s the cavalry charge. Being on a mount of some sort (fiery horses, tigers, raptors, and so on) with fifteen of your brothers in arms and charging some enemy. You just can’t get that cool feeling in real life.

There’s also the massive carnage of huge battles. You’ve seen it in movies like Lord of the Rings; huge armies clashing. In World of Warcraft, you’re there, in the thick of it. It gets so thick and so hairy that you can hardly tell what’s going on, death and destruction flashes all around, enemies and allies falling. Slowly, the enemy is pushed back. Then the elation of victory as you overrun their last position and claim it for your own.

Old, young, pre-teens and grandpas, you’ll find them all online in a MMORPG. Moms and dads, students, professionals who sneak in some time at work, shut ins and handicapped who otherwise would have little human interaction.

If you need a break from real life, check it out. I’ll be on the Terenas server of World of Warcraft. Just type Clementure in your ‘who’ box and you can send me a message.

Of course, if you’re Horde, I’ll have to kill you.

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Comments:
JH -
You wrote:

"The single greatest thing the MMORPG has over more traditional single player or multiplayer games is human interaction. Real people are your allies, and your opponents."

Actually I'd argue this is the single worst thing about MMORPGs. The problem is that real people are your allies and your opponents, and in my experience, most real people are idiots and I usually want nothing to do with them! Why would I want to play a computer game with them? The whole reason I play video games is to get AWAY from these people in the first place! :)
 
Well, Corby, you may have a good point. But as you know from playing any multiplayer game, humans are far more challenging opponents that AI routines.

That said, when did you become so anti-social?
 
Well, living around people for a few years will make a guy antisocial. My plan, should I ever make enough money, is to buy myself an island somewhere so that I can control my exposure to humanity. :)

I say this sort of tongue-in-cheek, but really there is a modicum of truth to it. I just find so many people insufferable... they're so generally annoying!

But back to your topic: I have played MMORPGs before and in my experience they're just filled with people (mostly teenagers) who want to pretend that their something special because they've got a 90th level wizard that can turn you to burnt toast with the flick of the wrist. I don't know... I find many of the people who play those games to just be obnoxious when they're online. But of course, my experience is limited, so....
 
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