Tuesday, October 05, 2004

You Can't Go Home Again

It has been more than a year since Mr. Blessed and I quit EverQuest. We left when we found out I was pregnant. I remember being on raids where couples would casually comment on how they had locked their children out of the house for the day so that they could play uninterrupted. We had (only once!) grouped with a monk who would go AFK while pulling because she was trying to NAK (nurse at keyboard).

In the past year, I haven’t much missed the game. We played so hot and heavy (over 40 hours a week every week for three-plus years) that we were plenty ready to leave Norrath. Still, recently I have been experiencing bouts of nostalgia. My EQ coffee cups have faded pretty badly by now. One is four years old, with “Loading Please Wait” in familiar red letters. The other cup was crafted with our guild logo, the graphic file long gone, never to be CafePressed again.

We have been looking at World of Warcraft, with reservation. We will never play the way we used to (thank God!), but these games are designed to be addictive and time consuming.

Even if we never again play, I am personally very interested in MMORPGs from a sociological perspective. I am far from the first to comment on the compelling anthropological data that can be mined from player behavior. All major human themes are re-enacted in raw, painful detail day after day in these virtual realities—love, betrayal, conquest, greed, and honor, all played out in each and every guild, every server, every day. I find it fascinating that almost all DKP systems will evolve to share the same fundamental characteristics, for example, no matter how much the individual authors try to avoid it. All uber-guilds look the same, and all family guilds, well, don’t. Adamantine human nature, indeed.

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