I have been totally addicted to WURM Online, this great independent game that pits you (and your friends if you want) against the elements. Essentially, you find an area you want to build on and do so, hoping that you don't interfere with someone elses creation or plans. It's a large enough virtual space so that this rarely happens, and really it's only a matter of asking.
Our group from MMOvoices found a nice spot and settled in quickly. I immediately started to plan the lay-out of the place (but have had to change it here and there) and it was awesome to see some of the site members fall into roles that seemed to reflect their personalities.
Alik Steel, for example, is the resident "old schooler." I'll be honest and say that we do not know each other as well as we could, but he is the type of person that makes quite an impression with his gruff exterior and old-school gamer ethics. He's a work-horse, it seems, gathering ore from the mine and wood from the trees, and investigating farming. It just seems to fit him.
The first female member logged in and joked about cooking and running the kitchen. Sure enough, she ran off, killed a pheasant and returned by saying "Pheasant and eggs for breakfast, boys!" I've not known Lea for as long as I would like, but her bubbly personality came through her actions.
I have slowly become the infrastructure guy, not quite a leader but trying to keep all projects tied together. The fence will be finished soon, to me a very important step. With the fence comes security, and I have taken on the call of "Soon her waters shall be secure!"
In a way, the game feels like what you might go through if you and a bunch of friends were indeed stuck in the woods together, complete with moments of 4am grumpiness. We are all trying to remind each other to keep the forge fire lit, and trying to keep each others spirits up.
In short, the game is a cool way to see how gaming together truly brings out the most distinct characteristics of someone.
And maybe this kind of game-play is what I have been missing: collaborative game-play that binds people together. I almost always solo in my gaming, but maybe I have just been playing the wrong games. In most games, combat is the main drive, and combat is repetitive and gets you generally nothing but more of the same. In a game where the players are working towards a goal, things change. Every step closer to the goal changes the situation, every new situation brings new lessons and allows more areas of the players personalities to shine.
As an artist, I have always had this love/hate relationship with gaming. You spend hours upon hours playing a game, without ever creating anything. It's like watching the same movie over and over...repetitious entertainment with no outcome but time spent away.
Games' like Second Life were always entertaining, but soon the sheen wore off because I would be, seemingly, the only one that wanted to do something creative.
Maybe this little social network I have created (260 members now, and more are always invited!) is the key? This group of eccentric individuals that don't mind trying something new, something creative. Something real.
After all, a fantasy isn't real, no matter how strong the fantasy. Collaboration or creative goals shared by a group is real, though. The experience is real. The fun had is real, and sometimes you just might make something together, something that has never been created before. For that short time that the thing exists within the hugeness of the Internet, it is totally unique. It is burned onto some hard-disk somewhere, and might even remain for years. It's yours and your friends, a result of your collaboration and efforts together.
I might, after this Game of the Site passes, take the equivalent of a months sub and get some land in Second Life. I wonder what we could create together? It would be interesting to see if my horrible experiences in Second Life might be put behind me with a collaboration.
Until then, I will be working on my fence. The wolves are howling, and we need our waters to be secure.