Some comments are just too dang big to clog up people's chat strings with. In an attempt to pay respects though to the people who inspired this weeks entry I would like to attract your attention to the people who started this conversation first.
Laura Genender who inspired me with her blog spotlight lead-in to another bloggers post.
And Interl0per who inspired her thusly.
Now, assuming that you have popped over and read those posts, I can begin.
When I was a kid, in my 9th grade class, we watched a film in my science class about drugs. I remember being scared out of my wits at the depiction of some tore up teenager making a drug induced decision one day that maybe, if he got enough height on the outset by scaling a tall building in his local area, that he would be able to fly.
Needless to say, dude didn't fly, and his lack of airspeed not only served the purpose of the example that it was supposed to set, namely, "Don't use drugs and do stupid things" but it clearly drove home the overall theme of the filmstrip to me and my entire class for years to come which was simply, "Don't do drugs." Years later, amidst smokey rooms full of unemployed adults all huddled around glowing boxes linked together by cables and routers, I would often recall that filmstrip to my friends in the middle of passing a phattie back and forth or running to get another beer and remind them that "in spite of the euphoric feelings that may be produced from the intoxicants that we are about to recieve, NONE OF YOU WILL EVER BE ABLE TO FLY!" Of course the room would break out into uncontrollable giggles as a lot of those guys went to my same school and knew exactly what I was talking about, but the message remained the same. It was a good one.
Fast forward passed those days of Quake and Lan parties and friends to the day that me and my now famous one friend landed in the land of Athas in the Dark Sun Online game. Sure, for it's time it was a pretty awesome deal, to be able to get online and play an rpg along side other folks who you didn't know and could compete against in levels and in combat. Who wouldn't jump at a chance like that?
Little did we know though, that it would be that little obscure game, that didn't host more than a couple of hundred people at a time, that would turn into a decade long addiction that to this very day has us repeatedly scaling tall buildings and jumping off again and again in that "oh so glorious" attempt to achieve altitude.
You see, no one ever tells you that MMO's are a drug at the beginning. Sure, you learn soon enough after you take that first hit by logging in and building your character. Most MMO players are more than happy to elude to the "crackness" of MMO play during a casual conversation. Even then, however, it comes off like a joke, like something to laugh at and not to be taken seriously. It doesn't come to you with the seriousness of that 9th grade filmstrip, it comes to you with the chuckle of that smokey room full of Quake players who, in their "maturity", have decided that in spite of the seriousness of the message, that it does not truly apply to their particular situation.
It won't be for years until one discovers, after a few lost relationships, a few lost jobs, and a plethora of leaps off that building and subsequent crashes to the hard earth, that this is EXACTLY that situation and that how you handle it has everything to do with whether you are going to end up like filmstrip boy (metaphorically speaking of course) or whether you are going to be able to actually look back on the time you spent in MMO-land fondly.
My friends in Vanguard probably think that I am crazy because, after every big grind, i.e. Wardship, Cragwind, CIS, Swamp Gear, I take a few weeks off to "come down" from the experience of having climbed to such heights. A lot of them are younger and stronger than me of course, and still in the heights of their MMO abuse and, no sooner than they are finished with one thing, are raring to go get started on the next. I however, have finally figured out, like Laura and Interl0per, that this is simply a race to the top of a building that is inevitably going to drop me crashing to the ground in a jumbled heap PROVIDED that I do not give the construction workers time to build more floors for me to climb. We just put up our guild house (finally!), in Vanguard, and I haven't been there consistently in weeks since. But there is raid content right around the corner and I plan to be refuled and ready for the fight as soon as it drops.
Epiphany! If the construction workers keep building floors there is a fairly good chance that my buzz might wear off before I reach the top of the building. That I might simply choose to NOT go to the top and subsequently NOT jump over the edge. WOOT! I get to keep living!
This would be a good end to an MMO.
Just like the day that we realized that we could not walk around in a constant state of weed induced stupor or drunk off our arses all day long, there should also be a day that we realize that "this game just isn't doing it for me anymore" and on that day we should not be unhappy or spent or metaphorically (or otherwise) dead. We should be able to look back on our journeys as good ones, good times spent with good friends that although have passed, were worth every moment.
Am I saying to not play MMO's because they are bad for you? Of course not. If I did that it would be the ultimate in hypocrisy. All I am saying is what that film strip said me me years ago still applies. Be it drugs, alcohol, epic weapons, guild houses, or even Red Bull, none of this stuff is truly going to be able to make you fly, at least, that is my understanding.