Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Am I Stuck?

I broke my vow to consistently update my blog everyday if there's internet connection lying around yesterday. The reason? I was busy going out with my friends. Not to watch movies or to have a drink or to meet up but rather to hunt monsters and to level up. You see, I was going out with my guildmates from the latest online game I'm hooked on, Forsaken World.

Even though I've read a lot on the dangers of gaming addiction, how it could ruin your life and make you lose touch reality, and sometimes lecture my brother on not wasting his time in front of the computer, I've been acting like one of South Park's character during the "Make Love, Not Warcraft" episode for this past few days that I've been spending at Ipoh.


But no worries, I'm nowhere near the fat, pimpled and unwashed state yet. I'm still very much the handsome Lukey the blogger, it's just that my experience this past few days has got me thinking about a few questions.

Why am I so addicted to playing online games for long hours despite knowing all the disadvantages that are attached to it? What is it about the game that makes me go back time after time? Why do I feel uneasy if I miss a few hours playing that game?

The first reason has something to do with the sense of community and friendship that the game offers. Despite how some say that online games rob you of your real life friendship or how online games impair your social skills, for myself, I find the actual situation to be quite opposite of how the popular belief goes, especially for people with limited real life social skills like me.

You see, one of the features of online games like this is the massive amount of people playing. Real people, not just some AI who just gives you the same dialogue over and over again. Of course, just massive amount of players is not enough to start meaningful player to player interaction, the game itself provides gamers with two excellent features that is destined to bring people together, guild war and party quests.

Through guild and party quests, you get to meet new people, people that you will say hi to because you all share a common thing, your guild. And when associated with a group, we humans have this natural tendency to bond with the group and to develop feelings for it. Be it in a camp or in an online guild, we would naturally think that our group is the best and would do anything to make sure our group is the best. That's the group mentality and that's where online game guild comes in.

In an online game, a player who is in a guild will naturally want his/her guild to be strongest. Just as how we are friendliest to the people in the same group as ours in a camp or organization, we will develop friendship through numerous quests done together and through the common goal of making the guild succeed. 

And behind a keyboard, we will be less inhibited, be more of ourselves and less shy when it comes to interacting. In a sense, you can say that online interaction is more realistic and less fake. Eventually, if you're in the guild long enough, names, Facebook address and phone number will be exchanged, perhaps leading to a meet up offline and maybe even more. Who said playing games stops you from meeting new people?


The excellent party quest system offered by this game is also another pulling factor. If you have no idea what a party quest is, it's something where a few players form a group to accomplish a goal, let's say killing a boss.

And when a few people come together to strive towards achieving a common goal, there's a need to work together and be nice towards each other. Jokes and conversation would be exchanged and if you're friendly enough, you would add each other as friends for future party quests. And maybe through numerous future party quests friendship may also be formed.

Besides the community that the game offers, the feeling that you're actually achieving something in the game, for example being someone important, someone who actually can make a difference, is also one of the reason keeping me glued to the screen.

You see, all of us want to be the best, to be someone who can make a difference to the world if given a chance. And that is what the game gives you.

Through being a guild leader, a party leader or even one of the top 500 players in the game, you have the ability to do something different and to affect the direction of the world in the game. Perhaps you'll be involved with negotiations with an opposing guild for a ceasefire, or you'll be managing a group of 30 people to ensure that the guild war turns out well, all of which you perhaps would not have a chance to do in real life.

But then again, the reality is that no matter what benefits the game offers, it's still a virtual world. Like it or not, we still live in a real world and we can't survive solely by sitting in front of the computer 24/7. By the end of the day, we still need to come back to the real world.

My point is, despite how bad the media tries to portray us gamers and the game, there is some good points with it if you know where to find. The key is the balance. And I guess this is a good time to let my character stand around while I go out to catch some fresh air.

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