I don’t play games like EVE, H1Z1, 7 Days to Die, or even my first real MMORPG Asheron’s Call to role play. But that doesn’t take away from spending time getting lost in the paradise created for us by game developers. The beauty they create for us often gets overlooked in comparison to the mechanics that surround us in the game. We all have games we play just to play. There are some games, though, that just lend themselves to something greater.
My MMO gaming began with a group of real life friends. In some ways exploring new virtual worlds became something akin to when I was younger. My friends and I would set out hiking in the forest after breakfast and come home just before dinner. The fun of the discovering things few people have seen in the wilderness and being on our own was something we enjoyed often.
Gaming was different from that real life experience, yet similar in some ways. I am not talking about the standard fare of arcade games and early gaming systems. In college, we would sit around with pizza and beer and talk about the day when computers and video cards would advance enough to render graphically the worlds we were trying to create in text.
When that critical juncture in computing arrived, it birthed new worlds. Think about the places you have been as a gamer. Maybe it was Azeroth, Dereth, the many systems in EVE Online or some other wondrous world. Was there a place or a moment when you were taken by your surroundings? I remember mine. It was when they added weather to Dereth. Snow was beginning to fall and I could imagine the welcome heat the fire must have been giving off as you entered a house. Likewise, in EVE there have been many times I have looked across a solar system or at a station or a lumbering ship and wondered if it might ever be like this in the future. Granted the art in EVE Online has a degree of realism other MMOs do not have.
A key part of enjoying games like the ones mentioned above comes from the interaction they enable with others. Sitting in comms while gaming brings another level of immersion. You play a game and have real social interaction. It’s like a virtual Cheers. Everyone knows your name and you may have a few drinks and shoot some bads. Think about the people you met along the way in these worlds. How many of us talk to people in another country on a weekly if not almost daily basis. Think about the different perspectives on life, love and dare I say politics. While not part of the game mechanics in any coded way, it is integral to the experience.
How does that translate into losing yourself in the experience? There is nothing like conversation, strife, loss, and victory to cement relationships. Sitting in the trenches with people not like you brings into focus that no matter how different we are, we are even more similar. That experience brings immersion. The joining of real life commonality into the virtual world. I don’t know about you, but I would be bored out of my mind if games had no social aspect.
When you visited those virtual worlds: did you just see them as a puzzle to solve? Or, did you take the time to look at the world created around you? If you haven’t, I suggest doing it. I play EVE a great deal and quite often I get wrapped up in the mechanics of the game. More than once EVE has grabbed my sense of immersion much like Asheron’s Call did long ago. I know EVE isn’t real, but I can’t help but wonder if the future will not be like EVE in some ways.
I have been there in my ship flying somewhere or doing something and it will hit me. I’ll think “Wow. That is really amazing.” It could be anything: a planet, a view from a POS or Fotizar that just looks like it could be reality someday in the distant future. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t picked POS or Fortizar locations based on the view once or twice. I have and it is amazing every time I visit those locations. Think about it: maybe we get to glimpse a way of life our descendants will consider normal and take it for granted.
We all know EVE and games like it are not real. They aren’t real life. We all have significant others think we spend too much time in New Eden. If you haven’t looked at the paradise you’re partaking in, you are missing an interesting part of New Eden. Take some time and just look around. Stop and smell the roses, as they say on Old Earth. You may be surprised at what you have been missing. CCP—and the developers of many similar games—created amazing worlds for us to spend a little time in away from the chaos of the real life. Enjoy those worlds outside game play once in awhile. Enjoy the friends you make and the relationships that last. Virtual worlds don’t last forever.