October 08, 2006

World of Warcraft

I know the feeling.
I'm glad I cancelled my World of Warcraft account before this South Park episode aired -- it hit way too close to home and made me alarmed about how I spent most of the past year.

Man, I loved that game. At my peak, I was playing six hours a night and straight through the weekends. It didn't feel depressing because I hung out with the same people in my guild (Aurum, on the Graymane server) every time I logged on. It was friendship, there was common purpose and accomplishment, however virtual. For my birthday last year, one of my guildmates bought me a horse in the game. This horse would have taken me weeks to save up enough money to buy.

thoughtful gift
It was the best birthday present I received that year.

Aurum, under new leadership, decided to transfer to another server and I had hit a ceiling of advancement so I declined to move my character along with them. After they left, I couldn't sustain interest in playing any longer. It seemed too difficult to begin again with another circle of friends, and I couldn't devote another year to honing a new character. Something finally clicked inside me and I realized that the problem with virtual accomplishment is that it is ultimately meaningless.

For this I had defaulted on a contracted novel, let my body get fatter, taken easier routes of quick sexual encounters rather than devoting solid time toward building a new relationship?

I had broken one of my personal cardinal rules: I had focused my energies on a project that ultimately had no practical satisfaction.

kill it!
Do I regret playing World of Warcraft with such obsession? No. The game is an enormous progression toward full virtual immersion -- the skills I learned there will be very useful in the next step of virtual evolution.

Also, it was fascinating to see my own personality distilled to its essence. Even in the pixilated skin of a buff level 60 human mage named Septing, able to hurl bolts of ice that could freeze a dragon and kill it across a desert valley, I was still myself, with all my petty personality flaws and weaknesses, as well as my strong, severe, solitary integrity that has accompanied me since birth.

a wise man
As Buckaroo Banzai says so pithily, "Wherever you go, there you are."

Even when riding on a black horse across the virtual, sumptuously detailed plains of Azeroth.

It exists.

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