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The Internet is an MMORPG

Tim Eisen Posted:
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I can’t figure out if I have writer’s block or if the MMORPG genre does? Maybe both? Words used to flow from my head to my fingers faster than I could type them. I’d often finish a column and have enough material written down to split it in two or even three! Now I sit, staring at a blank white box with a cursor blinking at me in what can only be described as an attempt to steal aggro. Make me move it taunts, give me aggro. And so, I type and it moves always staying slightly ahead of me, leading me on, maintaining aggro. Cursor’s make great main tanks.

I’ve been commenting on game news for a few years now and never once has this block afflicted me. I’ve tossed thousands if not hundreds of thousands of words about games into the black hole that is the internet without pause then suddenly on this day I open a blank document and I have nothing.

It’s during the white blank meditations that I find myself wandering. My mind drifts away from MMORPGs to current events. I wonder, has the world always been so chaotic, so divided? Or is it that I just didn’t pay attention back when I was blessed with the ignorance of youth? The news was for old people, all I cared about was the games I played! Now it seems like wherever I go the news follows, or maybe I just got old and started following the news? It’s in my pocket so I suppose I could make a good case that it and the rest of the e-world are always following me around like a stray cat I shouldn’t have fed because now it won’t ever go away.

Oh internet, you were supposed to be like fire. You should have helped us unite and ascend conquering the cosmos through our knowledge, instead you divided us then turned yourself into a sick amalgamation of P.T. Barnum and America’s Funniest Home videos. But puppers!

For better or worse everything we learned from the early MMORPG’s is back in spades. Social media is a MMORPG. Every site with a like or vote or thumbs up is a MMORPG. The internet is one strange MMORPG mashup, like second life with less nudity…ok maybe more nudity. Where everyone role plays but no one is sure how to log out, or worse yet, why they would ever want to. We’ve entered strange times where a face to face conversation is socially awkward but not having social media is anti-social.

 (checks calendar)

Ah, that might explain it. Every year around this time I find myself longing for MMORPG past because it was many years ago around this time when I was first swept up in Star Wars Galaxies hype. Back then rumors were legitimately rumors! People didn’t walk around with the internet in their pockets and studios kept a tight lid on things. Back in my day the best legends came the old way, by word of mouth! “A guy has a cousin that works for SOE, he said…” That was how we got our development info. In hindsight charging fans for that kind of access is genius. We used to get it for free, now we pay them for it, they give us the same stuff with slightly less marketing spin and we spoon it in. MMORPGers have never met a pay wall we wouldn’t climb!

Speaking of crowd funded pay walls, a few years ago I thought we could get back some of the lightning the MMORPG genre had back when it was making virtual worlds to live in rather than theme parks to play in. Kickstarter ignited a revolution! It gave us a path to get the games we’d been begging for since WOW transformed the genre. Like so many things the fans of this genre would do it themselves once again proving we were a cut above the rest! I was proud stand behind the games I backed. It was as much a cheer for them (the little guys) as it was a squirt of lemon juice into the eye of big publishers that considered us too insignificant to write code for.

I never expected the genre to go back 10 years just as I was always aware that new games couldn’t feel exactly like the old ones, but I believed they could feel closer to them than anything since. I still think they can, that is if they ever launch. Unfortunately, developers are as good at predicting launch dates as Lois lane is at investigative reporting. I’m sorry Lois but if you can’t get past a pair of black rim glasses then I must call into question your ability to investigate anything beyond who ate the last donut in the Daily Planet break room (hint, it was Jimmy, it’s always Jimmy!). If they do launch someday, and if I’m not in a retirement home jacked into something, how can they compete with the internet? How can anything?

What a fascinating time to be alive. I was born in the real world, chose to live in a virtual one when it was scorned and lived long enough to see the real one become the fake one as virtual reality has slowly become the new true reality. Unlike unplugged reality, the God of virtual reality is never satisfied. Like agent Smith on a bender it used AI and AR to invade unplugged reality! We are witnessing a full-scale invasion, heck we are enabling it! What a terrifyingly exciting time to be human. And to think, this new God was born when AI and the social web were first wed in unholy matrimony, in the MMORPG.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry