Posted by: shatteredblog | July 10, 2008

Legends and Heroes

Sony has had a welcome back promotion running all summer, as you’re probably aware, called the Living Legacy. In addition to being a marketing shill to entice back old customers the program is highlighting the players and guilds that have made both Everquest and Everquest 2 the games they are. I know I’ve talked about community and how important it is to the game before, so today I wanted to write something about the other side, the personal experiences that make the game truly great.

I have a hard time coming up with ideas of things to write here, which is part of why I haven’t updated as frequently as I’d like to. One of the things I thought about was why I think people play any game like this. It’s important because it can give people insight into what makes a game great, and I think it’s also important to show someone who has a passion other than videogames why it is that the gaming experience takes up so much of our time and energy. My philosophy is that everyone has a reason for playing, but what some people miss is that everyone’s reason is unique to them. This isn’t going to be an exhaustive exploration of that topic, but a more personal take on why I play and how the game stirs my passion.

I play the game primarily to make friends. It’s strange, how different your personality is in different forms of media… and what I’ve found is that where I’m awkward and stutter in face to face conversation, and get easily distracted in phone conversation, when speaking in text I feel more comfortable. I don’t know if that is a trust issue or perhaps a self esteem issue, but it is the experience that I’ve had. MMOs allow that personality difference to translate into a social structure that is already meshed with something that really excites me. It was revolutionary when my friends from the local comic shop invited me to play Everquest with them, and since then honestly my life has changed I think for the better.

Another part of making friends in the game is that relationship dynamics are different in the world of Norrath than they are in the real world. In the real world, even after I meet someone and become acquainted with them I still feel anxiety about it. In all honesty, I feel like in this world I have very little to actually offer someone to hold a real relationship with them. Who wants to be friends with the awkward boy who doesn’t have money to go out and can’t entertain? In the game that’s a different story… there’s always something your character can bring to the group to benefit the people you are playing with. A vibrant economy allows you to allow the wealth of your avatar to benefit the friends you’ve made in the game. And there’s the possibility that sometime, somewhere in the game I might have the chance to make all the difference, to be someone’s hero.

This may be a controversial topic, and it definitely makes my reason for being in the game unique… but it’s extremely important to me. Do you know the video for the old parody song “Has Anybody Here Seen My Corpse?” ? In the video they made Mirage prefaced the song with a quote saying that “In this world I can become a hero, maybe.” When they said it it was to poke fun, saying at the end that there aren’t any heroes in the game. I think just the opposite, I think that there are heroes (and heroines!) in the game, and I think that it is that possibility that anyone might be a hero to someone that makes an otherwise good game transcendent. It’s something that I’ve given up hope for in the real world, knowing the way culture fixes you in the position you’re born to and only allows the privileged and the wealthy to ever make a difference. But in the game world, I’m not the person I am in the real world… I’m useful, and I can make a difference. Perhaps all the difference.

In Everquest 2, I’ve found a person who is my hero… because of her selflessness, because of her accomplishments and because of her humanity she is my hero. I wrote in my personal journal that “I hope I can have even a tenth of the experience in this world that she has had” and it’s the absolute truth. It’s my hope that someday I might be able to make the difference for someone else the way my hero has made the game great for me.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading… and I’ll try to post more frequently and not let you down by being banal or just plain uninteresting. See you in the game.

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Responses

  1. First of all, it was great to read another post!

    Secondly… I think having a hero, especially in an mmo, is a fairly typical thing and one that people don’t talk about nearly enough. I don’t think I’d be too far off base to say nearly everyone has one. I know I most certainly do.

    Relationships (in all their forms) make these games. Other wise we’d all be playing by ourselves some where. They’re such an intricate piece to life in general, it only makes sense that even in these fantasy worlds they’d hold huge sway.

    I hope you’re enjoying your vacation!

  2. I am only just now catching up on your blog Kasul. I aspire to write with the sensitivity and insight that you have here.

    When my real life was falling apart my MMO colleagues were collectively my heroes. With them I belonged, I could make a difference. My knights in shining armour all of them – they have rallied around me and look out for me.

    I agree with you – I hope that one day I will be able to share that and make even a small difference to someone elses experiences too.


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