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.
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.