Sunday, January 17, 2010

Apocalypse WoW Redux

I just now finally cancelled my World of Warcraft account, and deleted it from my hard drive. Those smart, smart pushers at Blizzard have informed me they'll keep my characters on file and will never, ever delete them. So any time I want to come back, they'll be waiting for me - just for an hour or two! That's all!

The first 10 days are free!

Good Lord what an addictive game. I thought I could handle it. I guess I can to some extent, because I'm quitting. And, to be fair, I started it when I was unemployed. I could have spent that time not sending out resumes to write scripts instead - but I didn't. I had to know.

And the worst, craziest thing about World of Warcraft is the seriously intensely addictive nature of it - because it's social. People you've never met are waiting for you to log on, be part of their guild, go slay some digital monster somewhere, go engage in some quest which is far more interesting than this mundane real-world stuff like write, read, go outside, eat, work out, or shower. Now those other things can lead to the grand adventure of, say, having a girlfriend one day - but what if she doesn't play WoW?

I'm frightened to think of what may happen to our civilization if politicians get ahold of the game-designing genius that exists at these video game companies. But then...they already do have them. The games are different, and played for different stakes. But certainly people make them very real. They invest in them. Sometimes all someone has to do is hold out the barest outlines and everything else just plugs in. Witness the teabaggers. Or, to annoy some of my friends on the Left, the campaign of Ralph Nader. Who says all the right things but has yet to produce one political or legislative victory as a candidate. Who doesn't even have a party behind him!

But there I am, getting all invested in it myself.

The thing with games like WoW, or politics, is that they are clearer than real life in one important way: the outcome. We all know the things we can and should do to improve our lives; we just aren't sure that they will work. But we can be sure, in games. In video games, we know that if we kill the boss we'll get to the next level. In political games, we "know" because we believe it that if we get this next election to go our way, we'll be on the path away from destruction and into glory.

Politics are games that we must pay attention to, because everyone else is, and they have power over us. Both the masses of our peers and those we choose (from a list almost always chosen for us).

But life is the game that is our own to play, now and effectively always because we won't know when it ends. And that is the game worthiest of our attention - because it's rewards are of course the most real.

Even realer than, say, some post in a blog.

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