Thursday, January 07, 2010


It's been six months since I quit playing World of Warcraft. Six months since I completed a quest. Six months since I trash-talked a battleground. Six months since I carried out complex Damage-per-second calculations while weighing the overall appearance of a new piece of gear. Six months since I defeated the forces of evil. Or good. Well, a lot of that depends on perception.
It has been a hell of a lot longer since I rolled dice in an old-school pencil and paper gaming manner.
I am, however, a gamer.
This isn't an activity or a hobby, really, not in this sense.
Gamer is a personality type. It's almost a condition. There are theories that it comes from wasted brain function, like unused cycles on a CPU endlessly burning through SETI calculations. The brain needs this downtime because of the way it is wired, or something. A diversion from the heavy lifting normally done during the course of a day. The imagination is rarely tapped in a conventional workday. Or it isn't appreciated if it is. At least it isn't appreciated by Human Resources.
Others say the twitch-factor is the key. There is only so much hand-eye action going on in ordering a latte and typing emails, so that energy is redirected towards slaying virtual dragons.
It isn't like this energy could be spent in other areas, either. This is specific stuff, completely incompatible with anything grounded in reality. And, if untapped, it becomes toxic. Probably.
I've joined the ranks of casual gamers. I'm not sure it's working, but it is within the boundaries I've set for myself.
A couple of minutes of diversion on the iPhone a couple of times a day and I can almost totally avoid the shakes.
Something like 145 million people over the age of 17 play these little puzzle games, word games and strategy games with no pressure to grind experience or join raiding guilds or haze the n00bs.
The majority of these people probably wouldn't call themselves gamers, but they play at least an hour a week to get counted, usually between four and six.
There are over a hundred million users on Farmville and over 50 million invites for it on my Facebook page.
These numbers amaze me.
The people they represent are our grandparents, co-workers, strangers in shopping malls and the guy that repressed his homoerotic urges by joining the football team in high school and beating up on smaller guys.
And all of us move around letters or colored blocks or bump each other off in Mafia Wars, for the most part making no contact with others of our kind within the game space. Because that is what is missing in casual gaming. I get no human element in it. The familiar faces are absent.
With massively-multiplayer the multiplayer element is what completes it, cinches the addiction, keeps me coming back to check in with people I know there.
And sometimes get them all killed when my cat decides to clean her ass on the keyboard while strategy is discussed.


Todd said...

I miss you. All of my friends abandoned me on WoW.
Gonna call today. Hope you are well.
Shabbat Shalom.

Garrick said...

We miss you too!
I'll be on the road today but please try to call anyway. AT&T may surprise both of us by actually embracing this whole "nationwide" thing.