So, there's this game. It's called World of Warcraft.
(Yes, let's do all roll our eyes, shall we? "Oh, that, way to sell out, man!" you say. Shaddup.)
World of Warcraft has been in existance for quite a lot of years now, and I have too. We have co-existed peacefully, as it were, with me thinking that WoW was a fairly silly thing mostly filled with angst-ridden teenagers. Mostly, I did my thing (writing) and it did its thing (I did not know what this thing was.)
A couple of days ago, I was offered the free Ten Day Trial of the full game. "Ah! Finally! Some perks to being a writer!" I thought, but that was silly, because it turns out anyone can do it.
Tempted by nothing very much, I did it. I downloaded the game...
....and lost two days to it. Devoured. The game ate my life, and to prevent me from feeling guilty, it also gobbled up my wife in all the bits of time when I was not actively playing.
This is not a review of the game, though. This is a bit of musing.
One of the things that put me off to the game were a number of local kids I know in various ways. Many of them are your typical creepy gamer kids. They are thin, pale, and awkward. I feel cool and sauve when I am around them, merely by being married, speaking with women, and using complete sentences that do not include the word "Uh..." or "Like." in it.
A number of these kids play WoW, and with disasterous results. Two of them have failed college semesters miserably and been kicked out of school, one of them has been told to move out of his parents basement (snickersnort) and another one is barely keeping a job at a grocery store...and even then, only to pay his WoW subscription.
("Hah!" Pete rants, "Were that the only bill I had was a goram game subscription...!")
So when I began playing WoW, I specifically had in mind the kids this game had swallowed, because it fascinated me. I play all sorts of games and enjoy them very much, but then...I turn off the game and I get back to my life, my job, my writing, all that. It puzzled and fascinated me that these people simply couldn't do that.
The thing about the game which captivates is that it's fairly unrestrictive and unjudgmental. You can be anyone you want. An Elf, a Dwarf, a Carrion eater (Er....) a Minotaur. It's fascinating and fun, and the game has entire cultures built around these species. You can do any sort of job, from mining to skinning, to hunting, to fighting, to blacksmithing...
...And here in the real world, you can work a job, to pay your bills, and grow slowly older as the days tick by and quite a lot of people out there haven't the faintest idea you're alive.
This doesn't just apply to geeks and scared, pale kids. It applies to anyone. Hell, it applies to me. I enjoyed my couple of days in the game (days! Agh!) because I had things to do, places to explore, entire worlds out there full of generally nice and helpful people and things to do.
I was fascinated and captivated because in the real world, I have a short story or two to send out for publication, I have a lot of writing to do, and I have all sorts of other things with the word "DEADLINE" sitting next to them.
And yet, in the game, I had just one more Trogg to kill before I levelled up. I had just one more pelt to gather for a level. I had just one more, just one more, just one more....
I'm not passing any judgments on the game, which is delightful, or on the nerdy kids, who are in their quiet and hesitant way, very wonderful. I'm just noticing that the game takes away all the boring parts of life, gives you interesting bits and you'd resist it as a time-sink, except you never think "God, there goes two hours of my day," and instead think, "Just one more, just one more, just one more..."
This would have been an interesting article on writing things, except that I tend to write those when I'm irked at some Very Silly Person who's just talked about writing in a very stupid manner. Maybe next time 'round, someone will irk me into that. I should have just about resurfaced from World of Warcraft by then.
Happy New Year, folks.