Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Game
I’m going to start off with a screenshot. I can’t remember when exactly it was taken, but it was early on in my Warcraft gaming career when the raidgroup I was in was clearing through Blackwing Lair. That puts it at late 2005 or early 2006 – I don’t quite remember but it’s probably something like 5 years ago.
Back then the game was a completely different landscape. Raiding was new, MMOs were new, voice chat was new. Spell rotations were built on what seemed to work rather than World of Logs parses. If I had to give it a smell, it smelled like dirt after a heavy rain. I remember the days when I used to log in and just stand in awe.
I realise I’ve become even more cynical, which for a brit is some kind of feat considering that we start off with a healthy dose of the stuff at birth. It’s often said that it’s the people that make a great MMO. But when you’ve seen players, guilds and blogs come and go you start to become a bit downhearted, as if the things you’re into have no staying power or lasting relevance.
I also think that knowing more about the game has slowly muted the fun that I get from it. I blame my job – I work as a designer and architect on large scale computing systems and I guess that makes me more critical of design decisions that I don’t agree with.
My engineering background also kicks in as if instinct wields a screwdriver, making me want to fix things that I see as broken. When all you see is a landscape of broken toys, you’re prone to standing on a heap of discarded Transformers, adopting a heroic stance and loudly proclaiming “FIX ALL THE THINGS”. If you’re lucky you’ve tied a bedsheet round your neck so that it plays gently in the breeze.
Getting back to my point, all of this means that I become blinkered and desensitised to joy. There’s so much fun still out there, so many amazing concepts that I see every week, yet I never mention them. The whole gaming world is jammed with incredible things that don’t get nearly enough daylight.
This is why next week I’m going to only talk about the good stuff in MMOs. The stuff that’s made me smile or laugh. The stuff that’s amazed me. The stuff that’s had a positive impact on the gamers or people outside the game. The stuff that reminds me of those special moments that only MMOs can provide. I promise to pull out every stop to produce posts that’ll make you feel better about gaming. My Smile Week will start on Monday 12th, so look out for it then!
You’re also welcome to spend some time smiling along with me. Drop me a note of your own smiles and I’ll do a roundup next weekend listing them all. As a community we all have some great memories, and I’d love to read yours along with sharing my own.