Well, it seems that yet another virtual world is crawling towards its end. The inimitable EverQuest II is consolidating its servers, “with the goal of providing an even better gameplay experience for everyone.” Don’t you believe it; worlds die.
Stop and think on that a moment. It’s really quite sad.
Your beloved world and ‘toon simply shut down by the Gods.
Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a silver lining. You might discover another world. You might become a full-on FFXIV convert. Or heck, you might start getting really into Farmville, Bejewled, or playing B-ball in the park. But at first, and for a little while, it would be terribly, terribly sad. Maybe not because you even liked that dying world so much, but because you will have to change.
And in the immortal words of Garth, “We fear change.”
That change comes in many forms, really, not just the aftermath or world destroyers. Take the recent patch and upcoming WoW expansion, Cataclysm. Talk about change!
Scattered Shots had quite the post in August about the switch for hunters from mana to focus. Do things like this change the experience of gameplay? Does changing the experience of gameplay change who you are in that space?
Okay, those are pretty big questions, with a sort of philosophy behind them as an assumption: what we play / how we play affects who we are.
Recently, animated conversations about this with extremely clever people in my life has involved musing about whether you change your perspective when you play, say, a rogue versus a hunter versus a warrior tank.
So change is a-comin’ with Cataclysm in the wonderful World of Warcraft that we play. Perhaps some of the mechanisms that made us kind of less social, like easy dungeon queuing for PUGs along with decreased dungeon difficulty seemed to lead to a lot less conversation in those settings.
So, as two Swedish researchers recently presented at the HomoLudens conference in Montreal, PUGs are pretty quiet since WotLK. They argued that this results in fewer friendships being formed with strangers (especially because those PUGs are now cross-server, making maintaining those friendships harder). So, if, as a result of specific aspects/technicalities of gameplay, we have different relationships with people, we present a different self (e.g., I am not chatty in PUGs, but normally I am), we face the world differently…. is that changing who we are in that space?
(ps, I’m not ready to say anything about “Who we really are” in relation to this, just who we present ourselves to be in that specific space)
So back to the worlds die piece of things. When worlds die – or even change profoundly – does a self we get to know and love die too? I would be heartbroken to lose my Lan, but is it losing her, watching her, fighting with her, making her pewpew or heal things that I would miss? Or is it also a Me that I am/can be with her that I would miss? (Or perhaps, do miss. As C. has pointed out, I hardly ever play her anymore, leaving her on the sidelines for my D.K. of late.)
What do you think? What do we lose of ourselves when worlds die? Sure we lose that particular lovely space, those social groups, those specific types of social moments, but do we also lose a Me?