World of Wackcraft

I'm sure the above video is staged. More importantly, I hope it's staged. Lord knows I've had my share of tantrums over the years, and thankfully no tech-savvy siblings to upload any humiliating footage to the internet. I don't think I went as far as that kid, but honestly who among us doesn't feel like an idiot when we mentally replay any outburst after we've finally calmed down?

In this case, the kid is upset because his mom canceled his World of Warcraft account, as well she should. Games themselves are not inherently evil, but they can be addictive, and certain personalities can handle them better than others. If the controls on my NES weren't modular so my mom could confiscate them, I doubt I would have gotten any homework done when I was in high school. And those games had to be beaten in one sitting. There was no saving of progress like with modern consoles and online games.

I've been fairly hooked on the web series The Guild, which focuses on a group of gamers. It shows how it bleeds out and affects their daily lives, to comedic effect. One woman is generally oblivious of her husband and small children. The game is reality, and reality is the bad dream that occasionally interrupts. At the end of the second series, another character had her game character deleted. All progress was lost.

I think that's part of the addictive quality of role playing games, beyond the escapism. For me, it's all about improving your character, gaining stronger abilities or weapons and amassing a lot of virtual money. There's this illusion of progress, and it feels good. And it's a lot easier to “level up” in a game than it is in real life. Whenever I've had a crush on an unattainable girl, I've always focused on how she was out of my league. Rarely did I try to improve myself and raise myself to her level. The few times I tried, I usually gave up. But in a game, I can sit behind a computer and click the same buttons repeatedly every day, and my character will become stronger and richer, which makes the game easier, which makes my character improve at an exponential rate.

I've gotten hooked on my share of web games, but I've steered clear of the big ones. Sure, I'm not on a PC and a DSL connection isn't the greatest, but beyond that I don't want something to devour the slim shards of a real life that I do have. I would disappear into that other reality and never emerge. It's happened with console games, but thankfully those finally end after 60 hours or so. The massive multiplayer games are ongoing, always expanding, and there's always someone better than you to catch up to. So if that video is the real deal, then that little bitch's mom may have done him the greatest favor of his life. He clearly couldn't handle the poison, and his reaction would only be worse later on after he'd built himself up even more in the game. It's a shame we can't apply the “level up” philosophy to real life, to have a graph of our stats and possessions to easily gauge when we need to improve physically or mentally, or when we need new clothes or vehicles. We don't often step outside ourselves to look at the big picture until it's too late, and we're surrounded by people much too high a level to ever catch up with. That kid might have been a winner in the game, but he's definitely in danger of losing at real life....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two reasons why I've never gotten into online gaming:

1. My attention span is far too short.

2. I don't want to work that hard at playing. (Heck... at anything.)

9/26/2009 2:35 PM  
Blogger Lorna said...

Holy mack! That kid has staying power.

9/27/2009 9:47 PM  

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