For those that don’t know, which is hopefully nearly everyone, I’m an ex-Air Force guy currently held prisoner in mainland Europe. I say this because it’s relevant to what I’m about to say. I met a lot of people in my 8 years of service, and left behind a lot of good friends in the states when I chose to live in the land of wine and baguettes. This includes a lot of “gaming friends” - you know, friends that you game a lot with but sometimes struggle to do normal social stuff with like going out or doing whatever the hell it is people do when not lodged in front of their virtual hamster feeder.
I got a letter from a friend I used to be stationed with in the states in my first “newbie” years in the military. I played Ultima Online and Counterstrike with this guy, along with various LANparties and other geektastic stuff that used to be going on in our free time. We didn’t keep in touch much through the years, but he somehow came across my humble blog here in his searchings on Age of Conan or midget porn or something. After exchanging pleasantries he wrote me a few things and asked if I could maybe write something about what he said. And here we are.
Basically, my friend is a MMO addict like a lot of people. He started with Ultima Online, moved on to Everquest, then to DAoC, then WoW, and now Age of Conan. Of course some other titles were mixed in there as well like Horizons, Shadowbane, Vanguard - he, like many of us, were not impressed with these games and went back to the safe bubble of his chosen game at the time and let it soak up his time.
While reading some of my earlier AoC stuff, he came across another blog site that I happened to mention in an article: Keen and Graev’s gaming blog. He read one article, in particular, called “Summer begins: will it be another slump?” — and because of this one article, he told me, he threw his computer out a window.
Yeah, he threw his computer out of his window. There was no broken glass because the window happened to be open. Only a bug screen lost its life as the shiny Thermaltake case smashed through it and then deposited it’s various components on his front lawn. (He’s ground floor, and has a house - no flying computers out of highrise apartments unfortunately.)
Most gamers know about “gaming rage” - that is, smashing stuff or being violent because of something that happens in whatever game we’re playing. Hey, it happens - I’ll admit I’ve lost more than a few keyboard keys and even dented up a monitor or two (was a lot better back in the CRT days) due to some stupid and rather trivial string of events that happened to take place while engaged in some virtual whatever.
However - this is the first time I’ve heard of someone being so moved by an article that it caused them to take immediate action. While there could have been other contributing factors (I do believe alcohol was involved), it’s still a bit remarkable for someone to react with such emotion to “words”. At first I almost laughed this off - and then I went and really read into this article on Keen’s blog. So, what’s it about, anyway?
I think the first line sums it up nicely:“Sorry, I had to have an emo moment. My worst fears have bore fruit and the realization of another long and hot summer is upon me. This will be the second year in a row that the dreaded Summer Slump attempts to throw me into the fiery pits of boredom. Summer starts today and lasts until September 22. What is out or coming out that is worth playing?”
Ok, that is a bit depressing. No, I don’t mean that fact that *gasp* “no good video games are coming out this summer…” — I mean it’s depressing that someone’s emotional state and relative happiness is based upon the release of virtual entertainment. To each their own, I suppose, though I do wonder how the poor people that happen to not be born in our rich, every opportunity given, catatonic westernized society (or more than 20 years ago anywhere for that matter) managed to survive without hanging themselves out of sheer boredom.
And then at the end we have:Overall this Summer will be LONG and HOT (105 degrees or more here every day) with the only relief being our invitation to E3. In July (14th - 17th) we’ll be roaming the wings of the L.A. convention center gathering all the information we can from the Media and Business Summit then heading back to our Hotel room (we decided battling traffic every morning and night wasn’t worth it so we got one) every night to write our impressions and record podcasts. If all else fails, there’s always Fall. /facedesk
In his defense, he did say he was going emo for a moment, right? So here we have - a couple of teenage kids (I think they’re still in high school?) whose lives seem to revolve around video games and MMO’s. Hell, that could be a false assumption - perhaps it’s Peter North and Ron Jeremy over there writing - we all know that any popular niche blogger gets more ass than a toliet seat, right? Anyway, it was my view that yes, the article is fucking depressing. It’s not worth throwing your damn computer out the window though. Come on now!
And then my friend told me this:“Well, actually… I think what did it was something I read on your blog. I was reading your about section or something and you had a little quip (quoted below) …. I think it was this plus just seeing the hopelessness or utter pathetic nature of what I read that really blew me over the top. Self imposed digital prison?”
Here is the quip he’s referring to:“With that said, though we enjoy our little secure life of gluttony and pursuit of higher entertainment, most of us secretly wish for some sort of apocalyptic event that would free us from our self-imposed digital prisons and 9-5 jobs. It is our inability to do so under our own free will that we struggle with on a regular basis.”
Well shit on me. I was just trying to be witty. I guess I need a warning label that says: “Do not mix this with depressing, melodramatic posts bitching about having no ‘puter games to play.”
All joking aside, it got me thinking. I think my friend really needs (or needed) some help dealing with what he considered an unhealthy addiction. He’s still in the military. He’s not married, probably no serious girlfriend. His average day Monday - Friday is probably something like this:
Monday - Wake up 6:30 AM. At work by 7:30. Home by 5PM. Game until midnight / 1AM.
Tuesday - Wake up 6:30 AM. At work by 7:30. Home by 5PM. Game until midnight / 1AM.
Wednesday - Wake up 6:30 AM. At work by 7:30. Home by 5PM. Game until midnight / 1AM.
Thursday - Wake up 6:30 AM. At work by 7:30. Home by 5PM. Game until midnight / 1AM.
Friday - Wake up 6:30 AM. At work by 7:30. Home by 5PM. Game until 3 / 4 AM.
And then it’s the weekends:
Saturday - Wake up at noon. Eat. Game until 3 / 4 AM.
Sunday - Wake up at noon. Eat. Game until 5PM. Do some social thing. Home at 10-11PM. Game until 1AM.
Rinse, repeat. Normal workouts are mandatory in the military so he doesn’t even have to worry about being overly obese. That’s a 50 hour work week and a 60 hour game week. Subtract gaming time if you want to play sports or try and have sex.
I think that is what he was pissed about. His life, when he wasn’t at work, revolved around gaming. He had to sacrifice gaming time to do any “normal stuff” when it should have been the other way around. He clearly had no moderation in his life in terms of gaming. As they say, that shit was out of control. Well, it only lasted… 10 years. Is it over? Not sure. Maybe it’s like smoking. You can never really quit.
Anyway, here’s what he said about the whole thing:“I had just upgraded my PC for Age of Conan. Dual 8800 GT’s, new MB, new widescreen monitor. 1000$ USD for it. I’m only a TSgt right now, but its not really a lot of money as I dont spent it on much (got a new car is about it). So there I was. The only reason I was reading anything at the moment is because the Conan servers were down. I remember getting home from work… servers down… I was fucking pissed. Played some Call of Duty for a while but I get bored easy. So, waiting for the servers to come back up… grab a few beers, started watching some Naratu on my TV. I was reading some of your old Conan articles when I saw the link to Keen’s blog. I started reading through some of his latest stuff. Then I got to that article. I remember laughing because I thought the dude was pathetic. Then I kind of realized… I’m the same way. Look at me, I’m pissed off because AoC servers aren’t up. Why? I’m already working on my 3rd level 80 and the game’s not even out a month hardly. It’s like I need to go level up every character and spend all my time in the game or I don’t feel right. I want the security of my nice green guild chat and I like it when people ask questions about game mechanics or where item X is - because I can answer them. So I read this article and it hit me. I’m just as bad as this guy. Servers aren’t up, I’m pissed. No Age of Conan, I’ll go back to WoW - all 7 level 70’s I have there. And if I didnt have WoW I’d probably lose it man. I don’t even know what the hell I would do. Like you said, digital prisons. I pay these companies money so I can just spend all day and night playing in their little worlds. What does it mean at the end of the day? Jack shit is the answer. I threw my new rig out the damn window. Bug screen only, no glass (thankfully cause I live on base). MP’s came about an hour later cause one of the neighbors called and said they think someone tried to break in at my house or something. I had most of the stuff off the yard by then but my PC was still sitting looking all sad by the driveway. Just wanted to let you know… dont mix beer + depressing shit like that! Warning! Havent plugged my PC or my old one in for the last couple days… feels kind of nice. Been rewatching some movies I havent seen in ages and maybe going out with some coworkers or something. So dont worry about me!”
Behold, the power of the internets. We can rebuild you, we have the technology. Oh, and we can make you throw your computer out the damn window.
So, anyone else have some stories of article rage? MMO rage? Do tell….