4: Why I’m a junkie 23 Apr 08

WHY I’M A JUNKIE
So, why have I become addicted to the game?

In part, it’s because of the social, the flirtation, the excitement of the silly chatting. In spite of the fact that it’s hollow – perhaps even because of that? – I love to listen to folks and to talk with them. I leave feeling as though I want more – more conversation, to get to know them more, more banter. M. and P. are very kind and fun. Both are respectful by and large – although M. has been known to make a few less than race-friendly comments about Mexicans, in particular – and make me feel interesting and wanted in the group. Lots of “that’s so gay” from everyone (except J. and me, of course), but it’s not particularly extreme, and so not too bad. Again, very teenage boy type exchange, in spite of the fact that P. and M. are both around 28. I believe, from a few side comments, that Pyrez is younger. Also, P. and M. knew each other outside the game, while Pyrez is a game friend, although apparently they have played a range of MMOs together, not just WoW, and have know each other for about 6 years (!).

But really, I do have to confess, it’s *fun* to gather cool stuff – loot, gold, weapons, etc. – and to watch my character getting more and more powerful. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to kill things quickly when once they would totally overwhelm me. I enjoy exploring new areas – this game is GORGEOUS – and running into new monsters and the like. And the added thrill of wondering who is on, who I can talk to, makes even solo play retain a bit of pleasant social tension.

I am proud of my troll now – I very much understand J.’s sadness at leaving her high level one behind on another server – and I want to find the next quest items, train in the next level of skills, complete the next task. I want to figure out the places to go to get quests done – no puzzles here, really, but a lot of running around to find things. In short, I like this world and its landscape, and I want to see it again. I miss it periodically during the day – as well as miss my new little group – and want to check my messages, my skills, my tasks, etc. Kind of like being “addicted” to Facebook, popping onto WoW is partly about adding to my online self and partly about checking into to the people there.

For sleep considerations, I didn’t really play last night (Tues), nor Sunday night, but I still couldn’t resist popping on for a few minutes anyway. Monday night I played until 3:30 a.m. again – heh.

This game fits into my tastes in games as well as world – I’ve always loved the magic / swords / dragons settings, and WoW does that very, very well. Terrific beasts, NPCs, gear, and landscapes. Also, the social aspects make it about connecting with others, which is of course fun, as noted repeatedly above.

Partly, it’s fun because I’m able to chat a bit with a “real life” friend: J. She is probably the first woman here in FC I have truly felt is a peer and “my kind of person,” and been excited to see and talk with. So playing this with her is also about our friendship outside WoW, which is terrific. Partly, too, it’s being able to chat with these disembodied but not impersonal other people on voice chat.

Voice is rich, lots is expressed, even without the body visible, and I get a strong sense of them. I really *like* M. and P., in spite of some of our obvious points of difference (e.g., M. is certainly a firm republican, and both are not in any way “sensitive” to race, sexuality, gender as those in my life usually are). But such things are less relevant in this world of WoW (to be repetitive) since our “life tasks” are really about the game, and not about living with bodies. I would generally rather avoid talk of politics, for sure, as I’d rather not feel negatively towards these folks with whom I have having so much fun, but someone how I feel it is less important, less urgent, to sort those kinds of things out on WoW.

That all said, text is, in some strange ways, incredibly intimate, too, especially in these private exchanges. In TSO, text chat was thrilling in many ways, but didn’t feel particularly intimate. Generally, there were few private messages in my experience there – somehow in TSO it was a more radical step to chat privately. In WoW, the private messages (obviously more intimate for that reason, for starters) can quickly be incredibly meaningful and also motivate rather bold statements – ones I would never make in person, on voice, or in public chat. I have even found in the past week that I have been chatting with N. on Google and I have said things far more explicit than I would ever say to him outside the bedroom – heh. Similarly, I was chatting with my ersatz advisee TR and exchanging information and quips that were strictly not part of our interaction before on the phone and via email messages – things like her tastes in women, hints about my own past relationships, and the like. Nothing overly scandalous, simply things more exchanged between actual friends than mentor/mentee.

In that vein, my private chats with M., brief and relatively rare though they have been, were much more bold than I would have expected. Things like, “you can pet my snake anytime you want,” followed by my, “just bring that snake over here and I will.” Eeep! Even writing that here is far more extreme that it seemed there – or maybe it was just in a context of that sort of banter so it wasn’t so bold at the time.

Interestingly, since that night when M. and I played alone and didn’t flirt via voice but did with text chat, he’s scaled way back on the voice flirtations. And he said to me (in private text chat), “let’s just keep this between us, okay?” For obvious reasons he didn’t want such flirtations to be part of the group dynamic (being both family folks as we are), and I agreed. So our voice chat includes the occasional little suggestive comment in group Vent, but quite rarely now. Private text chat has scaled back, as well. For all the acceptability of the boldness of those private text messages at the time, I think it was still a bit much to do on a regular basis. A single line or two of flirtation is about all there is at this point.

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