I am dating myself when I say that my videogaming experience was Commodore 64 and Atari in the early 80s. My folks loaded up with education games (most of which I can’t remember the names to), Frogger II (I never had Frogger I but I was able to follow the intricate plot points nonetheless) and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Loved this movie so much as a kid that I would continue to play this game to the third level but could never figure out how to get past it [The world cheats and hacks was not a possibility]). Nintendo came later (I was Link) and I played Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda like an addict. I got a Sega Genesis, which I thought would be my last game console until my father actually bought Nintendo Wii’s for every child in the family (3) as well some of his friends (2). Both sides of my grandparents have passed away so it could be worse. They were impossibly hard to get in the town where he is so when they were finally scheduled to come in to the Sears, my dad actually waited outside the store the night of buy five to hand out to friends (completely insane).
Anyway, the point of most games that I played was to save someone, save the world, or stop someone from doing something bad. I was the good guy, did the right thing and the fate of the world was riding on me. That is a lot of pressure for a kid to put on himself but that kind of simple narrative fantasy makes sense when you are a kid who otherwise has no power, wealth or love.
What baffles me about MMPOGs like Second Life and World of Warcraft is 1. I am not there to save the world and be done with it. 2. I am not the center of attention. 3. The simple narrative of Good vs. Evil seems to be blurred. Some may argue that this third one is closer to real life. But what is fun about that? I live in a world where good and evil are blurred everyday, why would I want my fantasy world to be the same? Second Life in particular is the kind of time vampire, both because of its occasional choppiness, and also because its a straight simulation of the world where you have to decide the narrative, where I don’t know why anyone would play let alone exchange actual money to do the boring things people do in the real world. “Buy digital representation of shoes that look nothing like real shoes? Sign me up!”