I recently started to play World of Warcraft again. I have started and stopped playing this game about four times since its release. I play for a few months get a character close to about level 30 and then I stop. Why do I do this? Well let’s take it back to the first Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game that I ever got into.
*queue flashback music*
I forget my exact age but I was in high school at the time and some friends of mine had purchased a game called Dark Ages of Camelot and showed it to me at a LAN party that we were having. It looked fun enough, your typical role playing game. Except we got to play with each other from our houses and with 1000’s of other players, all at the same time! So I begged my mom to get it for me and pay the subscription fee for me to play. Little did I know that my life was going to take an unplanned change that day.
I was introduced to a place where you can be whoever you want to be, act how you want to act, and essentially be a member of a world society at about 100000th the scale of the Real World. Where what you did mattered and you could have impacts on many different people’s lives. As you play more and more you start to realize that this is an extremely social interaction. You were exposed to a new huge array of people doing the same thing you were doing. Completely falsified by the fact they were playing a character and not themselves. But, “Hey” you were doing the same damn thing, so it didn’t matter. The world was at your finger tips and for the first time in gaming history I was able to make my own adventure, nothing was scripted out or set before me, I was controlling every aspect of my character’s existence. It was truly a great feeling. Nothing was beyond you if you worked for it, and you could set yourself attainable goals. Everyone was working toward something similar and we could only be successful if we worked together. It was much different then the world that I lived in as a Real Person. Everyone looking out for Numero Uno and stepping on everyone else to get there wasn’t the mindset here.
You play, you divide and you conquer. My main frustration lies (like most MMO junkies) with the end game result. What happens when you get to the end? It is not like the real world. You can’t sell everything you have got and buy an RV and travel until the end of your days. There is no MMO Florida condo to purchase and no one to give you sponge baths. You have two options when you reach the end of games such as these a) start over and take a different route, or b) move on the next one. Most people will keep choosing option A for the simple fact that the game is familiar to them, they have been playing with the same people for about a year and they have built relationships with them. But that is a whole different section to write about. The fact of the matter is, you will have to move on at some point and it is then you realize it just isn’t the same as it used to be.
After my time with Dark Ages of Camelot was over (the first run anyway) I would say I have been back to it only about three times for some extremely short periods of play before I was bored. The people I played with were a huge aspect of my gaming experience. As soon as they start to go, it chips away at your “want” to be there. So you try your hand at others. I don’t know the exact order of what I played but it was a list for sure. Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2, Anarchy Online, Shadow Bane, Everquest, Everquest 2, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft, and Dungeons and Dragons online. I am sure I am missing some in there like Runescape (good times Munro). I kept trying and buying different ones searching for that first feeling I had with Dark Ages of Camelot and NOTHING was working. It became statistical analysis and work to play. Not fun and adventurous like it was when I started. Everquest 2 got me very close, but only because I was part of a wonderful guild and they shared that need for adventure too. But even that light started to fade.
So now I get these, “cravings.” Flashbacks of events that I have experienced over the years of playing these games, and the feelings of excitement I had. As you get older lets face it, “life gets more and more boring.” You go to work you pay bills; you buy things you can’t afford and then just pay them off for the rest of your existence. But that only fills about 60% of your time alive. That other 40% of “recreation” is important too. I loved filling that time with adventure games and now that I don’t have that, I sometimes find myself turning to more “harmful” alternatives. Drugs, drinking, or sometimes just staring at nothing and melting away as father time cuts me down has become my recreation. I write and read to pass the time. But I do not like feeling that living is just “passing time.” As most people I want to enjoy it to the fullest extent! For everyone that is different. Some people go skydiving, rock climbing or travel. I want to have adventures from my home, where I can be comfortable and relaxed. Not have to worry about social anxiety or how I am viewed by the rest of society. MMO’s provide that outlet for the introvert person. It boosts them up, makes them feel good about themselves, and lets them choose without much consequence at all, how they want to be portrayed to others.
So to satisfy these “cravings” I keep reinstating my WoW subscription. I get a small adventure by myself and I can play as long or as short as I want to yet still getting something accomplished. In WoW however there isn’t much social interaction at all. The game is so tailored to the casual gamer that at low levels being social is more of hindrance for success then it is fun. The social aspect is huge for me in these games, so I eventually stop playing, “snap back to reality” and go about a mundane existence until I get the “urge” again.
I will keep playing MMORPG’s and I will keep trying different ones until I get that feeling back! It was much too great and overwhelming to not strive for and just forget about. I would like to document my MMO knowledge in some installments. These are subject to change but I would like the entries to go a little like as follows:
Danny Machal June 18th, 2008