Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Have you heard of these? MMORPGs and they’re sucking the life out of us one by one. Sure, they were harmless enough back when only a couple of your friends would ever play Everquest, but now… now they’ve become mainstream, and as such, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could think of at least a dozen friends that drain away (I won’t say waste) at least 3 hours a day playing in these virtual worlds.
For those unfamiliar with MMORPGs, they’re role playing games, where you create and customize a character with a specific race and class, and battle though quests and explore vast lands. The difference between these kinds of RPGs and traditional RPGs are that a) MMORPGs are played exclusively online with millions (and I mean millions) of other people around the world, and b) they do not have an end. No matter how long you play, no matter how far you get and how strong you become, there will never be a final battle, there will never be an ending credits sequence, and there will never be a “the end” screen. If you get close enough to beating everything and a high enough level that you’ve done everything there is to do, you can always create another character, get all the best items, or even wait for the next expansion that give more quests and sometimes a higher level cap.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love MMORPGs, I’ve played Everquest for a year, Final Fantasy 11 for a good 2 years when it first came out (and again for a couple of months this year), and World of Warcraft for a couple of years as well, and I know first hand the benefits and detriments these games have. First off, they’re a blast to play! I’m not sure what it is about them that make me keep wanting to come back for more, but the idea of playing with millions of other real people gets me excited (and if you know me, you know my favourite feature a game can have is online co-op… but that’s for another rant down the line). As well, for some reason I don’t get bored of MMOs as quickly as I do action, adventure, or even tradition RPGs. Finally, the camaraderie created from clans and groups creates a second world for you where you can become anyone you want. Now, for the negative aspects of these types of games, well first off, the majority of these titles have a monthly fee of $10 to $15 on top of having to purchase the game in the first place (although the initial purchase price is starting to decrease / fade away). This monthly fee makes me want to play more though, as I want to get my money’s worth every day. This leads to the second negative pitfall of MMORPGs, they are addictive as hell. In fact, they are so addictive that most these titles have warning at the beginning saying not to neglect your loved ones, social life, school, or work. And they mean it! I’ve read horror stories of marriages ending because of MMORPGs, I’ve seen my own grades and social life decrease when I get enthralled in one; I even read a news story in the past week that a young man died of starvation and dehydration due to an extremely long quest in one of these MMO titles. The threat of taking you over is indeed real, so as a gamer, as a member of the planet earth, I ask that if you have an addictive personality, DO NOT start playing these games, they may very well ruin your life. The third big drawback of MMORPGs is that while you might get a little buzz from finishing a big challenging quest or finding the armour you were looking for, for months, you will never get the ultimate high of beating the game, it will never happen, there will never be a last mission or final boss. In fact, past MMORPGs that have stopped offering servers and quit the business never had an ending they just ceased to exist, or for the bigger titles, they went out with a bang, millions of monsters and a final explosion destroying the entire world.
Now on to the part the really boils my blood. It was hard to quit Everquest, it was hard to quit Final Fantasy 11 (so much so that when I quit in 2003, I went back to it again in 2005, and again this year), it was hard to quit World of Warcraft. Now that I finally quit FF11 (again) and deleted the game a week ago, I struggle daily not to join my friends again in Warcraft and now with the sweet trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic (looking so much better than the horrible Star Wars MMORPG released years ago), and now the announcement of another Final Fantasy based MMORPG set as Final Fantasy 14, I wonder how much longer I can hold out before I join the virtual world again. I fear that this is actually the first step in some sort of futuristic horror where robots begin to harvest humans (Terminator, Matrix, Transformers, whatever you want to compare it to). The get you first to feel comfortable, enjoy the game, charge you a little money to make you feel like you WANT to play constantly to get your monies worth. The next step is that you invested so much time and money on your character that you feel like he’s become an extension of you, by this point you can easily sink 5 hours straight sitting in a chair barely moving your body while you continue to quest. The next stage is what we might be seeing in the future, accessories that you plug into your computer, wrap around your hands and connect directly to the internet, the machines can use this technology to begin creating facilities to harvest. The final step is getting us to cocoon ourselves in USB driven pods where tubes will connect directly to our spines and such the bodily fluids directly from our drained corpses, and we’ll let them too because we’re too enthralled in the game to do anything about… Well, let me tell you something future machines of destruction, I will not passively stand by and let you enslave us for your own survival; humans make machines, and humans will break machines, they were created from our own intelligence we cannot let them surpass us, and on this day I vow to fight back, for our games, for our families, for our survival.
The resistance is here machines, what will you do now?