On Being Enslaved By MMOs
I’m used to always having an itch. An itch in the back of my mind to log in and play a MMO. It’s a strange sensation but also a welcome one, an old familiar friend that gives me something to think about when I’m on a bus or in the bath or having a boring conversation with a work colleague. In this sense it’s rather nice because, as someone with an incredibly active mind (too much caffeine maybe?), it stops me losing my sanity to boredom. On the negative side though it can also be frustrating because it’s a tough tyrannical master that holds me enslaved to its mercy by filling me with desire to play. Feeling compelled to do anything is never nice.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I last logged into a MMORPG and that hasn’t been due to voluntary choice. Crazy work commitments and alcohol fueled drinking binges have left me with no spare time at all. It’s literally been a case of having to work all evening or coming home too late/drunk to be able to able to turn my PC on, a rather sorry state of affairs that has let my itch go, er, unitched for a while. And the longer the itch goes unsatisfied for, the less it starts to tickle.
Perhaps I’m describing the accute details of addiction and recovery here but I highly doubt we’re talking about anything as sinister as that. What is more likely is the description of the calling of a hobby and the welcome distraction that it brings to our lives. For me, being unable to satisfy my craving is like not being able to indulge a relaxing past time that some aspect of my personality desires. It’s probably about as sinister as taking a child’s security blanket away from them.
But as I enter into this new phase of my life, once comprising of liver damage and work exhaustion, I find myself feeling more liberated that ever. Waking up on a Saturday morning and be faced with the prospect of work (or a hangover) simplifies my life considerably. I no longer have to make choices between what game to play or what do within said game, it’s simply not even a factor. It’s as if everything has been stripped away apart from the necessities of life that I must absolutely deal with. I suppose freedom from choice is perhaps the greatest freedom there is.
This liberation is especially refreshing when dealing with MMOs, a genre of video game that’s entire sole purpose is to exploit our nature to achieve, collect and complete and keep us hooked for as long as possible. The God-creators know what makes us tick and they know how to make shiny two-dimensional polygons appeal to us in a way that no one else can.
So I guess I’m feeling rather spiritual now, at peace with myself and riding out the storm from within the eye of the hurricane. It won’t last forever but I’ll try to enjoy it while I can.
. . .
I think it’s time to play some RIFT.