Overthrow Everquest (or your MMORPG of choice)

I have a +3 Vorpal Sword of Civil Disobedience and a +5 in Nonviolent Protest

I have many friends who play MMORPGs — Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games — and have always wondered what it is about them that turns my friends into computer gaming addicts. Is it the way that the games allow you to interact with so many other people in a computer generated fantasy realm? Maybe its the fetish for leveling up, twinking, and creating the greatest character ever. Perhaps these people just want to get the most for their monthly fees.

But tonight I don’t seek to explain the behaviors of these people. Instead, I want to focus on what makes an online world and how to overthrow Everquest. For those of you out of the loop, Everquest is one of many online role playing games where you play the part of a character in a fantasy realm, complete with cities and magic and other players. You fight monsters and complete quests and work on your abilities, earning experience and money and items in an effort to become the best whatever-you-choose-to-be. The game ends once Sony decides to shut it down or until you stop paying your bill, whichever comes first.

Back to the issue at hand. How much of the game comes from the players themselves? Sure, you pay $10 a month to play the game, but you go on missions with your friends and have a clan and enjoy the group aspects of the game more than roaming on your own. Without you and the interaction of your fellow players, the game would be no fun at all.

You make the game.

So why not take it back?

Let’s overthrow Everquest. I’ve got a few ideas for how we can do this…

  • Make an emulator:

    Even though Sony’s terms of service prohibit reverse engineering and emulator creation, it’s still well within your rights to create a system that recreates the Everquest server. This task will be time consuming and difficult, but well worth it once you don’t have to pay your monthly fee any more.

  • Strike:

    Get as many people as you can online at once, find a nice spot in the world, and bring everyone to that spot. Then do nothing. For a very long time. Keep your connection up for as long as possible to waste the server bandwidth. Make Sony waste their money supporting the servers while and use their processing power and bandwidth to the fullest. Furthermore, you’ll bring all other activity on the server to a standstill. Hopefully this will teach them some lessons.

  • Go do something else:

    You’re a nerd. Leave the game. Find something else to do like play another game, find online porn or music, or start a web site to do your own blathering. At the very least, go outside every so often. The sunlight will do you good. Plus you can spend your extra $10 a month on a movie or sunscreen lotion.

So it’s not an amazing list, but you get the point. This leads to the next question — what do you do once you have your own virtual world? I’ll answer the question with a question — what do you do in your world now? Can a virtual world designed for fantasy role playing evolve to support people with jobs, bars with healthy attendance, religious organizations, law enforcement, fast food restaurants, governments, and all the other aspects of life that we’ve come to expect day to day?

Yeah, there’s already Second Life and similar wanna-be reality games out there (The Sims anyone?). Do these games really model reality? How much of it? How much of the world do you have to program to satisfy an individual’s perception of reality?

These games prove two things to me. First, reality is relative, so these worlds are as real as there are hundred of thousands of participants worldwide using them and individuals known for their role playing characters’ exploits rather than their own. And second, the corollary, people are very willing to suspend their perception of reality when they’re paying $10 a month to use a computer generated fantasy world, no matter how much their real life suffers as a result (and no matter how much that virtual world is total crap).

Once again I’m not going to delve into the psychology of the individual who wants to spend all of his or her time playing these games. If someone can find their emotional and mental well being through a computer, who am I to complain?

Ok, I’ll complain. But I’ll save that for another evening.


Give me 100 megabytes and I’ll give you a piece of my mind.

I would like to make it perfectly clear that this web site is not a blog. Somehow people get confused that just because I core dump all over this web page it’s suddenly a blog.

This is my rant space. This is not a diary. This is not a catalog of my daily events. I am not begging for compliments, looking for pity, or asking for anything in return for doing this. I am not pining, whining, or offering constructive criticism. I do not want your questions, comments, or snide remarks. I may digress from time to time, but do not confuse that with anything of positive value.

Some people are obsessed with recording every moment of their lives on a web page for everybody to see. These people are disturbed. Somehow, real life is not providing them enough stimulation or social interaction so they feel obliged to share their internal monologue with the world.

And I have found no way to make them stop.

For some reason, the Internet has turned into a giant psychiatrist’s office. Web forums, IRC, instant messaging, WebMD, GroupHug, and others beg this kind of activity. People you never have seen in real life confide in you, revealing their secrets, all through their web site. The Internet has grown a mentality of “get it all out,” furthered by the cover of anonymity that the Internet provides.

If a blog has personal revelations from a person, at what point does the person end and the blog begin? If I stumble upon my friend’s blog that reveals their deep, personal thoughts about me, should I ignore it or confront them? Is that an invasion of their privacy? Why would you put something like that on the web in the first place? Should I believe everything on a person’s blog or is it all bullshit or maybe something in between? Better yet, what if your parents or siblings stumble onto your blog? Do you want them reading those details of your life?

My rants are just that — rants. They’re angry, pointed, and exaggerated. Is there a message in them? If there are, I don’t inject it consciously. I’m not going to put something up here that I don’t want other people to read, especially my deepest and most heartfelt thoughts that might harm the feelings of my friends, family, or random strangers stumbling across this text.

But above all, blogging does not empower you with a voice. Just because the text is there doesn’t mean anyone is going to read it. So before you go off and get yourself a web journal, ask yourself if what you have to say is something you want someone else to hear.

Speaking of being heard, I always wonder why it is certain blogs are more read than others. How does one person’s opinions gain more value than another? A blatant hypocrisy is at work here — the Internet idealizes democracy because everyone has a voice, yet few individuals have a voice loud enough to be heard over the noise. Is this what we want to construct? Is blogging a culprit rather than a solution? Or is there something entirely different at work here?

I will have more to say in the future about blogging. In the mean time, give serious thought to the nature of blogging with respect to the Internet as a whole.