Ah, autumn. That magical time of the year where the leaves change, the air grows colder, and we celebrate the prosperity of the previous months with an almost overwhelming bounty...
... of video games.
Sure, that whole "Turkey and Gravy" holiday thing is cool too, I guess, but who celebrates the true meaning behind it anymore? Settlers and Native Americans? Weird hat buckles and smallpox? They gave us the gift of friendship and a chance for life in a strange new world, and in return we gave them horse blankets full of Pilgrim Aids.
Me? I'd rather focus on the things that I'm truly thankful for: New games to feed my addiction.
With the recent releases of titles like Battlefield 3, Batman Arkham City, and Skyrim, we went from having a virtual drought to the threat of being washed away in flood of gaming that we can barely keep up with. And with Star Wars: The Old Republic and Diablo 3 right around the corner, we may have to sacrifice what little time we spend sleeping or actually working just to keep our heads above water.
If that isn't a pure and truly magical reason for giving thanks my friends, I don't know what is.
Video games and MMORPG's offer us so much in the way of entertainment that we tend to forget how little they ask beyond the occasional paltry fee or ritual human sacrifice. So in honor of the spirit of the holiday that is upon us, and in offering to the Gods of Eternal Virginity that watch over us, we should reflect on the things that we as gamers should all be thankful for. Things like:
I know it sounds sappy and cliché, but let's be perfectly honest; on the whole, people pretty much suck.
If you're anything like me, for every five hundred people you meet, there are about four hundred and ninety-nine that you just want to punch in the throat so that their neck holes close up and they stop leaking stupid all over the place.
Online, that number triples.
This means that for every 1500 people that you meet, only one of them is worth talking with long enough to form a friendship based on the mutual hatred for the other 1499. And while these numbers may seem a bit outlandish or high, trust me when I say that they've been fact checked to the best of my ability.
The upside to this is over the course of weeks, months, and even years online, you are subjected to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Slowly, out of this deluge of human offal, you'll begin to form not only connections, but real friendships with at least a dozen people who share the same values, interests, and medically treated social disorders as you.
MMORPGs and the online universes that we connect to offer us something that would be all but impossible for us in the real world: the chance to meet and befriend people just like us who we fully relate to, and who are willing to help us form the evil league of super criminals that eventually enslaves all of humanity.
For this, we give thanks.
Because of the above mentioned number of people inhabiting the world who absolutely suck, gamers are rarely long distance travelers. Most refuse to leave their state, or county, or town, or house, or the creature comforts of their motorized cart - so in a way MMO's become a real life game of Avatar.
In reality, most of us will never be able to pull off the imposing and intimidating look of the hero. We lack the bulging muscles, athletic grace, and ability to walk any real discernable distance without getting those really pinchy side cramps.
And were we to ignore those things and try, we'd be laughed at, ridiculed, and humiliated to the point where we were driven insane and forced into a life of crime.
Where we would *also* fail.
But online? In game?
We can be anything that we can dream of. We can heft swords, cast magic spells and save damsels in distress from horrible monsters in hopes of getting some of that sweet, sweet trauma nookie.
Video games offer us a chance to travel without worry or fear. They offer us a chance to see worlds created by imagination, and to be whisked off to exotic realms of fantasy and excitement. We can meet strange new creatures, learn about alien cultures and societies, and when we've learned and experienced, and dare I say it - even loved...
...we can kill the f**k out of ALL of them and take their stuff. Because another thing that we should be grateful for is:
While people with things like "Doctorates" or "Degrees" or fancy dancy "High School Diplomas" might disagree with the statement, I find the copious amounts of violence embedded in our video games to be a good thing. Ragdoll effects, slow motion explosions and blood raining from the sky in a torrent of crimson may look awesome in game, but that is only because they really are.
In real life, violence often comes mingled with pain, and if you're unlucky enough to have a skin surface ratio that has been drastically augmented and enhanced by Funyon and Mountain Dew implants, you have more area to feel that pain with.
Video games give us a safe and healthy way to release the aggression and tension that builds up inside of us so that we can cope with the trials and tribulations of the real world without turning into the creepy tuck-dancing serial killer from Silence of the Lambs.
Violent games don't make us violent; they give us an outlet in which to vent frustration without having to resort to violence in the real world. They allow us to laugh at our own aggravation, and to see how silly physically solving a problem instead of working it out intellectually really is.
That, and sometimes exploding heads are just f**king cool.
The Naughty Bits
From cyber sex accidentally getting posted into guild chat, to the nude mods and skins that are painstakingly created and released barely seconds after the game itself goes public; I am not only thankful for all of you dirty little hump monkeys, I'm not ashamed to admit it.
"I am thankful for all the naughtiness and perversion that exists within the world of online games, because there is nothing hotter than seeing the word "nipple" misspelled in the attempt to lustfully woo another person. -Coyote"
As taboo as it may sound, sexuality is always going to be a factor in any sort of online exchange. We forget that at our very core we are animals. And like those primal instinct driven beasts, we are genetically programmed to giggle uncontrollably at tasteless, juvenile jokes or at the sight of a naked dark elf streaking through the market place.
I mean, come on - Age of Conan had slider bars for breast size. Breast size. How amazing is THAT?
The only thing funnier than people playing video games in hopes of having a sexual relationship, is the fact that they have no way of knowing who or what really lurks behind that gyrating dwarf's avatar. Sure, you could follow the golden rule of the internet: "A female character is always a female player.", but on the slim and one-in-a-million chance that it's not?
Those are the moments that I am truly thankful for - the ones that bring the laughter.