The Gamer’s Life

by blue midget

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a community is “a group of people living together in one place; a group of people with a common religion, race, or profession; the holding of certain attitudes and interests in common.” Thusly, those who play computer games have also become a community known either as “the gaming community” or simply “gamers”. Within the community, many smaller groups make up the collective. For example, we have those who just like to play solitaire and minesweeper, and consider themselves people who play computer games, but are really not considered gamers by the rest of the community. And rightfully so – there’s a big difference between a gripping 15-minute game of spider solitaire (addicting as it is) to a bajillion-hour game of Everquest. There are the strategy game-players, the roleplaying (RPG) gamers, as well as the first-person shooters – and many, many more. In this last group, there is a bit of elitism and snobbery to be found. Many of the first-person shooters feel themselves above and beyond people who play other games, and they snub their noses at those who play the RPG’s. Let’s not beat around the bush – those who play only first-person shooters (for example, Doom) think of themselves higher than the rest of the gaming community. As an example I give you: Every other time I walk into an EB Games.

So I walk in and I see the young customer service person (typically a young male) standing around, picking his butt and staring into space, obviously working hard to earn minimum wage. He greets me; I respond in kind and proceed to peruse the selection. When I notice a particular RPG title that I haven’t tried and am curious about, I ask the person, “Excuse me, do you know anything about ?” Young customer service person will actually sneer at me and say in his haughty, elitist voice, “I don’t play RPG’s.” Now, I don’t just play RPG’s. I’m an equal-opportunity gamer, so I play just about anything that interests me at the time. But because I have have associated myself with the RPG genre, I have entitled myself to being ignored for the rest of the time that I am in the store.
Of course, it is widely believed by gamers and non-gamers alike that first-person shooter elites are hardcore gamers, because they only play games with guns. Big ones. And they kill people for fun. There are “cooperative” matches where teams are formed and pitted against each other and then it’s dog eats dog to determine the winner. It’s easy to see why this misnomer has flourished. However, I bring to you the case of the MMORPG player.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, MMORPG stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game”. In layman’s terms, this means a whackload of people – enough to populate a small country – all playing in the same game together at the same time. Okay, let’s make this as simple as possible for those who have no idea what I’m talking about. Everyone knows the game Mario Brothers, which was a spin-off of Donkey Kong. Pretend you are Mario. You’re a plumber, and you’re running around this little world, jumping around the obstacles in order to obtain a few different objectives, such as getting more money, not getting killed, etc. You know these objectives because there is a little storyline that ties in to the game. Now imagine that there are about 3,000 Marios playing this game together at the same time, and all of them have similar objectives and storyline for themselves. So, they’re running ahead of you, taking the coins that should be yours, etc. They can all talk as easily as if they were in a chat room, and they do. All at once. All the time. And they can’t spell very well. And they’re still taking all the money before you can get it, and then turn around and say to you, “YOU BUY GOLDS, KEKE??” As the game evolves over time, the game developers have to keep customers happy, so they keep adding more content, which usually means creating objectives that are much more difficult to obtain. So, clusters of Marios must band together to meet their objectives and thus, win the game. Even if you don’t like these other 50 people who also play Mario, it doesn’t matter – you must band together if you want to meet these objectives.

Herein lies our dilemma.

In a first-person shooter, you always move around, never stopping, because to stand in one place for too long would mean your death. Both hands are involved when you play, never stopping. Therefore there is not a lot of chatting in a first-person shooter, unless you are on some sort of voicechat system. But certainly not much typing and socializing, unless your idea of socializing is wasting someone with your BFG. Not so in the MMORPG. People who play these games must put up with things far worse than those who play first-person shooters, and it’s about time we got our due. Allow me to explain why.

For those of you who are gamers and have had to endure my painful explanation to those who do not game, I appreciate your patience. We will now charge on toward things you can relate to.

Reason #1 MMORPG players are hardcore: AFK’s

Now I realize that this would have been on most people’s list as to why MMORPG’s would not be hardcore but I assure you that it is. AFK’s (“away from keyboard”) is definitive proof that people who play MMORPG’s put up with the most ridiculous shiat from other people. And we’re forced to because we have objectives to meet and we need these dumbasses to complete our objectives. Because these games are generally more social, and people spend hours on end playing them, the AFK has developed for people to step away from the computer to use the bathroom, grab a glass of water, or whatever. In the beginning, AFK’s were generally quick because otherwise an entire group of people has to stand around doing nothing, waiting for your ass to get back. And most people are generally considerate, because they know this. However, there are always one or two people who have no consideration of other people’s time.

I play World of Warcraft. I’ve been playing it since beta, and I have been in the same guild for the past two years. In the beginning, it was a very small group of friends. We liked it that way. As a small group we used crazy strategies to accomplish things that only larger groups did. Eventually we became popular for some reason, and everyone started inviting their friends, who invited their friends, and so on and so forth. Back then we weren’t a guild that liked to exclude people, so we allowed everyone. And now, we have a guy in our guild who loves to play games. He is an addict who plays every single day and night. His wife doesn’t really care for games, nor does she “get them”, so the only way he is allowed to play is if he agrees to do one thing: At 9:00pm every night, he must go AFK for 20 – 25 minutes…

to brush his cat.

You think I’m kidding. Allegedly his cat has long hair and if they don’t brush it every night the cat gags on hairballs. Of course we all have other ideas as to what is really going on during the 9:00 cat brushing – you can use your own imagination. This really isn’t so annoying except that he is addicted to group excursions in areas that have a maximum player amount of 5 people. So every night he insists on signing up for weeknight groups and then proceeds to go AFK at 9:00pm for 20 – 25 minutes in the middle of the excursion. He’s a nice guy, but he has absolutely ZERO respect for other people’s time.

I have another person who leveled up to 60 (maximum level for WoW) and began to raid with us. Now, my guild only has a big raid once a week. And really not that big – we aren’t uber. Half way through the raid, the person says to me, “My girlfriend says I need to come eat dinner now. I will be AFK for 45 minutes. Can I put you on autofollow?” WTF, 45 minutes? I actually thought I misread that and had to scroll up to read it a few times. First of all, no you can’t go AFK for 45 minutes. Secondly, you do not put me on autofollow for that long because I will do everything I can to drown you or burn you in a fire. Lastly, grow a pair.
AFK’s are a necessary evil when you’re playing for a long time, but they are proof that MMORPG players are hardcore. And that we probably need to rise up and destroy the cat brushing AFK’ers.

Reason #2 MMORPG players are hardcore: Timesink

In the time that is spent leveling a character, exploring all content that the game has to offer, and getting some decent equipment, you could get a PhD. Most Everquest characters have well over 100 days played – that’s 2400 hours, or the amount of time a student should spend on 1200 credit hours worth of coursework.

Speaking of Everquest and timesink – anyone who has ever played an MMORPG has played EQ. Anything group-oriented that you do in EQ comes with an incredible timesink. If it’s been a long time since you’ve raided in EQ, or if you have no idea what an EQ raid means, allow me:

It’s 4:45pm; you leave work in 15 minutes and you have to get out of the office right away because you have a raid as soon as you get home. In fact, you’re raiding every single night as soon as you get home, so today is really no different than any other. However, you don’t want anyone claiming your zone so it’s important that your guild is FIF – first in force. 5:00 comes – you’re out the door and in your car. You race home, get through the door and turn on the computer. As the computer is booting up, you run into the kitchen, rip open a bag of Tostitos Pizza Rolls, throw them into the oven, run back to the computer to click on the EQ icon. Then you run to the bathroom before your bladder bursts. Running out of the bathroom, (I assume some haven’t even washed their hands – eew, you have Tostitos in the oven!) you manage to kick off your shoes and get online to head to wherever your guild has decided to go. As soon as you get there, three guild members need help because they’re lost even though you’ve been going to the same zone every night for a month, and two other people died and need a rez. By the time everyone is at the zone entrance, it’s two and a half hours later and your Tostitos are lumps of charcoal. You deftly type in /pizza and order your pizza online. 45 minutes later, your pizza arrives and your guild has only just started to move. You spend the next five hours in a raid, listening to the monks whine about not getting Kunark armor. Because you are confined to your desk and you have to eat pizza, there’s sauce and cheese all over your mouse and keyboard, and you are beginning to wonder why you and the pizza delivery guy have become such close friends over the past year. By the time the raid is finished, you have an hour to sleep before you have to get up and go to work. You look like hell, you didn’t get any loot from the raid, and that one enchanter is an annoying asshole who keeps telling everyone how to play their class. It sucked ass and you now hate 2/3 of the people in your guild with a burning passion, but you’re addicted like Courtney Love is to crack, so you’re going to be back the next night to do the exact same thing you did tonight.

That, my friends, is hardcore. Or a glutton for punishment – but I am beginning to think that they’re the same thing.

Reason #3 MMORPG players are hardcore: The Nerfbat

Ah yes. Every game’s disclaimer reads on the box: “Game experience may change during online play.” It’s the oft-told tale of the super-fun game that was released, the character you loved and dumped six months of your time into, and the developers who came and reduced the abilities of your character to resemble a hobbit on crack – and there is nothing you can do about it. If you’ve never picked up an MMORPG before, please be advised that it is the one realm where customer satisfaction is not guaranteed. Those affected by the Nerfbat do one of three things: #1 – Cancel the account and play another game. #2 – Play a different character until that one is beaten by the nerfbat, too. #3 – Continue to play the character even though it sucks and is no longer fun, and no one will invite you into their group. It sucks, but such is the way of life for the MMORPG gamer. It happens to everyone, in every game. You’ll be bitter and scarred for the rest of your life because of it. And for all you care, City of Heroes can go to hell because they’ll never get another penny for what they’ve done to your blaster.

Reason #4 MMORPG players are hardcore: Gender-bending is A-OK

Two naked female elves are cybering under a tree. Little do they know that the people behind the toons are 40-year old men who have never been laid.

The great thing about playing a female toon is that people you do not know will give you free stuff. The bad thing about playing a female toon is that everyone suspects you are a hot, barely legal chick in heat, even if you apologetically explain that you are a hairy, old man named Gunther. They will continue to try and get you to cyber until you put them on ignore or log in a different character. Because “I’m someone’s dad; leave me alone” somehow translates to “I’m a hot blonde who wants to bang you like a screen door on a windy day.” And to put up with that, you must be hardcore.

So you see, it isn’t easy being an MMORPG gamer. The conditions are rough and the competition is fierce. We deserve our due, just like the elitist first-person shooter gamers. We don’t mow other players down with guns, or shoot them in the heads all sneaky-like with sniper rifles, but we work hard. And that’s because we have a lot to prove, because it’s difficult to look like a badass when you’re wearing a dress while hurling an ice bolt at an elf named “Leegollaas”.