Thursday, April 29, 2010
Patience and Discipline
It's an awesome game. Great movement, great score, great quest infrastructure (though I hate having to be social, in order to form a group to collaborate on a quest, since the collaborators inevitably flake out on me, the quest never gets done and I'm screwed. I don't play MMOs because I'm trying to be social, dammit; quite the opposite), but it's a timesink and a money pit. With the exception of a stack of CDs, everything I own in that game, all my achievements, is/are intellectual and virtual. I'm not dedicated enough to win the in-game competitions and events, I don't shell out real money for virtual armor, I don't twink out for 1337 gear, and I will not kiss sufficient ass to remain in good stead with a guild of social retards, just so I can explain to my wife that she and the cats must leave me alone for eight hours Sunday evening for an epic raid. Not that I've ever been on a raid, for all the above reasons.
But I miss MMO gaming. I miss the escapism of a really good environment, exotic wardrobe, the concept of extremely foreign food, the illusion of infrastructure. I miss collecting things and showing them off on myself. The military was good for that, wearing patches on your sleeves and collar, medals and ribbons--and little metal bits that attach to them--on your chest. I miss riding some ridiculous supernatural mount and racing out of the desert-themed land and into the winter-themed coniferous forested land, or paying some flying beast to whisk me back to the thriving necropolis I called home.
At the end of the day, however, there's nothing to show for it but a depleted checking account and an expended calendar. That's the advantage of the free MMOs: they're not as great as WoW, but they're free so all you've lost is time, which is still a horrible thing to say.
In the face of that, though, I have to ask: what isn't a "waste of time?" What is both fun and a useful expense of time? I can't think of anything that satisfies both conditions, but I can imagine people insisting their non-profit humanitarian work is fun, and I'll argue, "No, it's not, but you've forcibly reconditioned your values to interpret as such." It's like, junk food is designed to be outrageously tasty (and deplorable for your health) and vegan food is blah (but great for you), but people recondition themselves to believe "yummy brussels sprouts!" or "gimme tempeh!" even though, as a pure and honest child-entity, they would have revolted at these taste sensations and instead whinged to go to McD's. So what's real: instinct or what you contrive to believe? If I spend the rest of my life developing an energy-efficient water filtration system for a third-world nation, will I not die in 40 years? Will my name not be forgotten in two generations?