Sunday, August 3, 2014

Transmission Ends

There's an unspoken assumption in my life that there’s always going to be enough time to eventually do the things that I want to do.  There are plenty of games out there that I would like to play, many movies to be watched, many books to be read.  And just because I haven’t done them by now, doesn’t mean that I won’t get to them some day. 

After all, I can always order that book from Amazon, can always get that film from Netflix.  If I don’t watch the TV series now when it’s current, I’ll just pick up the boxed set and watch them all at once. In fact, it happens all the time.  I’m watching Leverage in its entirety after having seen beautiful bits and pieces when it was new.  (“Age of the geek, baby.  We run the world…”) 

Nothing is ever gone, in the digital age. There’s always a backup, a download, a disk somewhere.

Except for MMOs.

MMO's have a life of their own:  often a celebrated birth and the long tail of active usage and possibly an eventual decline.  And when they are turned off, that experience and story is over.  You can't come back and re-install a few years later.  And while you might find another game that delivers a similar experience, the story and the characters of that particular game are unique to it.

Right now, I can easily think of a handful of MMOs that I'm not actively playing that fit into the category of "someday."  And while I'm not playing them, they are continuing to develop and grow.  It is one of the things that makes MMOs more than just a single-player game that feeling of a persistent world that is nevertheless constantly evolving.

And this doesn’t just happen when the servers go dark, it is happening all the time.  MMOs create a living history that is constantly emerging and developing.  Yes, there will be other events, other memorable moments in the future, but there will never be a way to return to the milestones we’ve already passed.   

We’re never going to see idyllic pre-cataclysm Camp Taurajo or Southshore again, never see the AQ gates, never experience that first Rakghoul plague event.  It is those very moments that make a game into a real world for the player, but also make it harder to say goodbye.

I’ve never played Vanguard or Wizardry Online, and I salute their players for a game well played. I hope they leave their game with more satisfaction than regret. And I hope I can do the same. I can easily come up with a list of MMORPGs that, if they closed at the end of the month, I would deeply regret not having explored more fully.  

I was prompted to blog this by Roger at Contains Moderate Peril,  who asked us to consider their passing carefully:
"I would advise active MMO players to watch Dremlocks’s video and subsequently reflect upon it. Perhaps it may teach us to be a little more appreciative of the games we currently enjoy, because all things are transient."

In the end, I found two lessons for myself:
  1. Make sure you are playing games that you truly love, and are not merely logging in out of habit.
  2. Take the time to experience other games, even if you have a main that you're going to return to.  There are many voices out there with stories to tell.

This post is the third in the Blaugust posting challenge, to post once a day for the 31 days of August.  Please join us there to find over 40 bloggers participating in this initiative.

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