Sunday, December 02, 2007

We gotta storm the fuckin' beaches

This post is roughly a week too late. But last Monday I needed to rant about how much Heroes blows my nuts (and I'm guessing tomorrow night's finale will bear me out on that). So here it is now instead. Better late than never, right? Tell that to a girl regarding her period.

Last week Swami said something about Halo and online gaming. It was particularly relevant to my life because he apparently spent Thanksgiving weekend playing Halo online instead of being on time to his own rendezvous, and during the same weekend my bff from high school told me that I should steer clear of installing World of Warcraft because of it's addictive qualities. He needn't have worried about the specific example of WoW; while I was an avid fan of all the Warcraft games, I've watched some video gameplay on YouTube from WoW, and I really don't get what all the hullabaloo is about. Looks pretty lame to me.

Not to say he was wrong. In Cyberlaw last year we actually studied how China had to pass legislation limiting the number of hours people could play WoW and Second Life, because apparently all these Chinese were so hooked they weren't showing up to work. But like I said, I don't get the whole WoW craze. Nor do I get the Second Life one. Although my life is currently so great that I literally want a second one, I think the game sort of defeats the purpose of gaming. I play video games to do shit I can't normally do in real life, like shoot aliens and drive race cars and wield the Master Sword. Second Life seems like more of the same old shit. In Cyberlaw we actually played Second Life for a bit, and we asked this one European girl online what she liked about it so much. Her rationale: you can meet all sorts of new people and have, and I quote, "dance parties" with them. She then proceeded to have her avatar dance. I'm not an avid dancer--never have been, and my high school peeps will bear me out on that--but I'm pretty sure having your avatar dance online isn't really what a dance party is all about.

Anyway, the games I get hooked on are first-person shooters. The only time I've played one online was senior year when my roommate had apparently decided to play Wolfenstein multiplayer rather than work on his thesis. One night he bursts into my room panting, "Dude, you have GOT to reinstall Wolfenstein multiplayer! We gotta storm the fuckin' beaches!" And I did, and we did, and it was a great time: shouting smack to each other from across our common room as we liberated Europe from the Nazi stranglehold, over and over and over again. I don't know if it was the adrenaline or what, but we ended up playing all through the night and into the morning, ending our mission with a game of squash at 8 am.

So I recognize the addictive quality of video games. After I took the bar I purchased as a treat Half-life 2, a game I had wanted all through law school but had declined to buy for fear I would not be able to resist its temptations. And for a week straight all I did was play Half-life. My friends would call me up and say, "Yo, we're going to So-and-so's party tonight." Yeah, well, maybe you are. I'm staying in and leading a pack of antlions into the bowels of Nova Prospeckt.

This is the benefit of the single-player game: when I beat it, I beat it. I was done. Sure, I replayed a couple of my favorite levels and downloaded the most popular mods, but at the end of the week I was basically done. $20 well spent. But with online games, there is no end. You just play over. And over. And over. It's like some twisted variant of Sisyphus.


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