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The World of Online Gaming

The above is a trailer for a documentary on online video games, Second Skin.

I am not sure that it will prove that good--some little part of my mind says it won't--but my interest in it comes from the fact that, for just over a year now, I have been playing World of Warcraft. A year. That shit blows my mind, really. I have never played a game for that long in my life. My usual game play consists of me finding a game and playing it obsessively for a few weeks until I finish it. After that it's about six or so months later before I feel the urge to play a game again.

Part of the reason, of course, is that there is arguably no end to World of Warcraft. A new quest line, a new dungeon, a new character class, a new item: each one 'prolongs' the end, though also the end game raids, which require anywhere between ten and twenty-five people to complete, are almost ridiculous in their time length to complete. It's not hours, it's days. Out of curiosity, I recently began doing some of those raids, and while they're fun, I honestly can't dedicate the time that's needed to do them on an obsessive timetable. There are simply other things that I'd like to be doing--but, if there's a complaint I have with the game, it's how time intensive it does become to see the end, and to get all the top gear. Only recovering drug addicts have that kind of time.

But, perhaps the bigger reason for my continual play in this game, is the social one. The doco trailer above hints at that, though I can't imagine anyone starting a relationship with people they meet in the game, but perhaps that's just me, and I guess I'll sound like one of those old crusty fucks who can't imagine online dating. However, while I can't imagine that, there are people I like, and people who annoy me in the game: there are players I've marked in the back of my mind as people I could do without being in a group with again, and others that I would, and whenever I'm in one of the main cities, I see similar names pop up in the chat. There are people who log into this game just to talk to each other--and I'm not different, really. My real life friends have been slowly drawn in to the addictive nature of the game, in part because--for one of them, at least--it bridges the distance he lives from the rest of us now. Log on, switch a chat program on in the background, and talk--it's like going to catch a film, seeing a band, or whatever else it is that you do with your mates for fun. Which is not to say it's all positives: one guild I was in, briefly, was run by a person who thought that being the owner of a guild meant he (and I use he, because he had a male character) could set demands and give orders and talk down to everyone like children. It was a strange in game megalomania.

Anyhow, it's an odd little bubble, but I like it, for a number of reasons--one being that it's fun, and better than what's on the TV or in the movies of late, so I'm not dropping cash on those and feeling like I got my mind raped by the sheer stupidity and lack of creativity involved. I've got no idea how much longer I'll spend playing--I am not, at the moment, going anywhere, and there's a new expansion coming--but it sure does have its fascination for me right now.

Of course, the downside is now I not only understand comics like the one below, but find them both funny, true, and oddly sympathetic.



( 9 Soaking Up Bandwidth — Soak Up Bandwidth )
Feb. 6th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
I just never started, because I knew what it would do to whatever little free time I had. I mean, I see way too many people never leave their rooms for this game, and I know I'd rather see sunshine every once in a while, you know?
Feb. 6th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Feb. 6th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
Ah, so that icon of yours actually is your face and taken in good lighting!

Also: that documentary looks like it could be either meh or the suck -- and probably both, since it seems aimed at people who know nothing about online social environments and the like.
Feb. 6th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
i left sunshine about the same time i found books, i suspect. it's merely a rumour to me now.

i suspect the doco won't be very interesting at all, but it started my chain of thought.
Feb. 7th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
To a large extent, snap - my experience is very similar, down to the exact same understanding and reaction to the Penny Arcade strip. For the next few months, I'm going to be that guy that lives at a distance from everyone - but it was already an important way of bridging the distance for me to friends that have moved to Sydney etc, it will just become more pronounced now I'm the one who has moved, I suspect.

Feb. 7th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
it is a great way to bridge the gap, i've found. it's a geek hobby for you and your friends to spend downtime with and doesn't require any real life drama.

(which is why i find it strange when the drama is there.)
Feb. 7th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, the amazing ability for people generate drama astonishes me. I've had it come up in guilds mostly made up of real life friends in ways that astonish me somewhat for something that for me is just a hobby.
Feb. 7th, 2008 10:01 am (UTC)
people are people. put everyone together in a place that doesn't have any real consequences, and you get schoolyard behaviour and drama llamas.
Feb. 8th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
but it's a game!

well, yes, i know that doesn't hold up too well.
( 9 Soaking Up Bandwidth — Soak Up Bandwidth )