Homerun Swing

•August 20, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I’m cranky. It’s not a good mind frame to post something, however, I need complete my deadline by tonight and I’d rather study for my finals uninterrupted.

I just recently found a comment awaiting approval in my inbox for last night’s little jam session. Though the name was disclosed, the comment field only contained the words “Thanks”. Aside from being completely nonsensical, this seems like valiant attempt to get me to flame out. After all, with dead lines popping up like targets at a shooting gallery, one could have an aneurysm on such a lazy comment.

Even if this was legitmate, my irritation only increases that someone out there decided to merely fill up cyberspace with a context senstitive phrase being completely outside of any context whatsoever. This comment did not provid a meaningful comment or criticism upon the post. I could go so far as to say “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything.” But that would fly in my face as my own brand of blatant hypocrisy.

I believe it was the first person I had ever met who suggested that people post on the Internet without any sort of understanding of Netiquette, dating the highest amount of people who do this to around September, when people are first introduced to the Internet and decide to post for no apparent reason. This people do indeed annoy me, not because I am better than they are, but it is very humiliating to realize that I was at that stage a long time ago too.

Don’t you just hate it when you think of events in your life, things you say or do that were completely innocent to you back then, but are hair tearing for you to remember now? I do, perhaps that’s a little bit of perfectionist leaking out of my ears. But anyway, I digress.

Back when i was a fresh faced youth who had just learned the wonders of E-mail, I was also into several works of art done by a group of people whose sites I would constantly visit. Of course, compared to now, these people are bygone heroes that most people would snub, but then again, Nicole Dubois has stuck around, victim of art theft and all. But with this first community of artists I followed, I eventually discovered that they had congregated onto a mailing list. Being an artist myself, I figured it would be alright to enter their ranks and perhaps make a name for myself. Of course, rather than doing the merciful and godly act of lurking, I popped in with an icebreaker. An awful prank joke.

I only recieved one reply and it was probably the most gentile and mature flaming I had ever recieved. I was humbled and I was ashamed. I had only made one post in the three days I had joined and became utterly silent. At first I thought it would be wise just to lay low and return when I thought that my antics had been forgotten. A week became two weeks, two weeks became a month, and after two months of silence I ended up quitting the mailing list.

No sarcasm intended, I would like to thank the person who put me down on that mailing list all those years ago. The reason why is that they hit me with a Nerf Stupid Stick, rather than giving me the real thing, including a couple of nails through it for good measure. Perhaps it was because this person sympathized with me for being a newbie. Perhaps they just have more patience than I do. But in either case, she showed me the error of my ways in a socially acceptable way that left my fragile ego intact while still reprimanding me for my actions and the inappropriateness of my message. I wish that all of these ‘net newbies’ had someone like I had to smack sense into them.

As for me, I won’t hold my punches. As a mean spirited and bitter individual, I have little time or patience for the idiots I deal with on cyberspace, save for those that give me an excellent start up to yet another angry pseudo-rant.


A Bit of Riffing

•August 19, 2007 • Leave a Comment

After finishing my little diddy called “Art of Diplomacy” I kinda feel as if I don’t have that much material to write on. I suppose I could go leafing through a couple of articles and come up with something I have strong opinions about. But then, it isn’t really a new idea. Heck, I am not even sure if I will keep running this blog. I like the site, but in the end, I don’t think I can really tap into the same issues that others get into.

Good lord, I’m starting to sound like I did on Deviantart.

This is a strange thing about my Internet cyborgs, they correlate in very different ways and it is nearly impossible for me to seperate them from the subjects they are applied to. Things that involve my life seem to be overtaken by a whinier me. At least, I get the impression that I am whining, or at least bemoaning my existence when I talk about myself.

When in a game where I become competent, I tend to be congenial, friendly and charismatic.

My real self is more of a self-pitying, angry at the entire world for no good reason. Cynical and mean spirited, I took on a very defensive attitude. I just really didn’t like people often because I feel they always had an agenda. Which they did. First phsyical relationship turned into a messy affair which ended up with me being the subject of a rebound. (If you thought being dumped in a legitimate relationship was bad.) Followed by missing your chance with someone who you felt was your true love. At least, I believe she was, but then, I’m a romantic at heart.

I still have the Governator on my list for messing up my first date. (I consider dates and relationships a little different. One is short term, one is long term.) Anyway…

Since I really don’t have many fully formed ideas, I decided to just chat about what comes to mind. And aside from needing to study for my finals and getting my bloody final presentation done, the thing that is realyl sticking in my mind and my craw is the announcement of the Fourth Edition Rules of Dungeons and Dragons.

Christian watchdog claims aside, Dungeons and Dragons is a combination of war gaming and theatre sports. One playing plays the guy who comes up with the situations while the other players take on the role of characters that they replay over several sessions of gameplay. The director guy’s job is to make the war game aspect of the game, usually involving the pseudo-physical characters the players portray as they manage their resources and deal with various scenarios from catching a crook in the city, to exploring trapped-filled ruins. The fun aspect is from the players working together to accomplish their character’s personal goals and completing the director’s objectives. The end goal is just to have fun, a directive that is shared by the gameplay aspect of MMOs, although the director may string together scenarios so that they create an overarching story with a beginning and end, so that it isn’t a case of the game changing and the characters staying the same.

The creators of the rules and the majority of material to help directors create games, is a company known as Wizard’s of the Coast, the ones responsible for Magic the Gathering, a collectable card game. This company is further owned by Hasbro, a toy company that you probably recognize. Anyway, the point of editions is to come up with new versions of the rules so that they are easier for players to understand, but also still maintain the overall ‘feel’ that the game is supposed to possess. Of course, this is also a way to get more money as new players will likely purchase the newest version of the rules, and current players will either enjoy the new version more, or purchase it so they can play with those who are running on the new edition.

The problem is the timing. (For those of you who know about the game and don’t need to hear my swill about the history, just skip past the conjoined paragraphs.)

In total, Dungeons and Dragons came out with seven versions. (Though I may be mistaken.) ‘Hold the phone: They’re only on #4 and there have been six previously?’ How it worked was the the original Dungeons and Dragons was pretty well the sale of a living room set of rules to make war games more engaging aside from simply annihilating other armies. But of course, the game was essentially incomplete. So they can out with an ‘advanced’ version that had more rules and more complete details on various aspects.
2nd Edition then came out, which was pretty well the solid version that could be merchandised and started the business model to attract new players. Then they brought an advanced rules set for 2nd Edition which again gave a more detailed game for players who wanted it.
3rd Edition came out about 8 years ago after the original company that created it was bought out by Wizards. It was intended to really stream line the rules by reducing the number of charts, tables, and calculator use that could sometimes become too overbearing in previous versions. This also made the game highly modular, making it easier for players to write their own material for their games. Of course, there were several places of confusion in the rules. Thus, Wizards created what was intened to be an eratta, a single book that simply explained the rules better and adjusted things that were just plain wrong. However, this ended up becoming a whole new edition called 3.5E that was practically incompatable with 3E. These ‘update’ was released in 2003.
4th Edition is coming out in the summer of 2008.

As I was say, the problem is timing. Between 3rd, 3.5E and 4th is a span of only 7 years, compared to a daunting 11 between 2nd Edition and 3rd. Having played Wizard’s other cash cow, Magic, I am very certain what their model is turning out to be. Magic also has a series of alterations as time passed and has gone through numerous editions. (I lost count after the 9th Edition) along with the ‘official’ card sets were supplementary card sets. This is exactly the same course that Wizards is taking with Dungeons and Dragons. They are constantly redoing the rules in order to make the previous versions obselete so that they can re-release the rulebooks and supplements.

Perhaps it was just a fantasy, but for a lot of DnD nerds, we fantasize that the original creators of the game never meant for it to be this cantankerous money making scheme, but that may be far from the truth. The only problem is it feels a lot more obvious when Wizards is doing it because we recognize them more as a business rather than a household operation. It is still very aggravating that Wizards has chosen to be as obvious with it as they had been with their card game.

For a lot of nerds, we often throw our fists in the air in outrage over the business models used by the creators of our beloved games, but in the end, we can’t seem to break away from the siren song. It is a pitifully vicious cycle but the subculture revels in it, just as much as the masses revel in their uninspired films and TV programming. I imagine that literature has developed a great deal of superficiality that has been masked by the elitism of the medium.

I feel that this is a great example of what I call the loss of creativity. We may claim to be creative, but high art and movements like we had prior to Cold War have ceased to be and have since been replaced by the massed marketibility of a product. No real sense of symbolism is even maintained, and when it is, I am certain that the artist is talking through their butt, their hubris, or that frail ego surrounded in a bubble of false passion. Even my prose is rather rank, if you ask me. I like to cling onto the idea of a Second Renaissance that can clear this away and give us a meaningul sense of creativity again, but I suppose that’s just the hopes and dreams of a romantic fool with a chip on his shoulder.

Who knows. Time will tell.

I hope.

Art of Diplomacy V

•August 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

So where am i going with this. For the past two weeks I’ve been yammering away about my many lives in World of Warcraft, so you are probably bored to tears and want the pay off. Well, here it is:

I consider myself a very logical person when it comes to video games. I play what I think is cool and what gets a good response from others. MMOs were the first kind of game that honestly, I had a lot od difficulty understanding. For one, is the fact that not only do you have to pay for software, you also have to pay to continue playing. In my mind, this is an awful business model. Worse still, the game didn’t have any big payoff in the end. Once you reach the maximum power level, what do you do? After you plumb the depths of every dungeon and you and your guild have all the loot you’d ever want, what do you do? After you have dominated in player vs. player and now sit atop a mountain of skulls, what do you do? The model suggests that once you complete these three things, new content will have arrives so that you will DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN! Don’t worry, that bad taste in your mouth is natural.

But the strange thing is, despite all that, I chose to play. Why? Because I was interested in the people. Now, I don’t *think* this automatically makes me a socializer, but let me explain how I came to this conclusion. I like to talk, therefore I babble a lot, but when it comes to written word I often come out very succinct and very noble. Which just isn’t want I sound like in real life. I am pessimistic and extremely abrasive. Online however, these sorts of qualities have difficulty transferring over through text. Often then, some shreds of wisdom and charisma come through and often I am quick to make friends. In fact, it really hit me when I gave my goodbyes to Anathema and I realized how much these people liked me. Despite the fact that I wasn’t playing with them anymore (Due to power level differences), I was still well liked.

Often in my life I have just assumed that the only reason I have friends is because of the sharing of resources. I have found little emotional support from my friends and I never gave any back. Perhaps it was the fact that the majority of my friends were male, but it could also be because we inherently knew that our friendship was only material. (Is that normal?)

But the friendships online didn’t feel that way. They felt much more genuine. Perhaps I am just blind to the fact that I was in a guild intending to acquire more loot, but I often felt that things were more meaningful in World of Warcraft than they were online. For one, was the fact that I was a likeable fellow online, but in reality I am a miserable little cuss. It felt empowering to know that I had the ability to lead others and that others recognized that ability, even though I had neither the experience necessary to lead. World of Warcraft provided me a brief taste of what it was like to be the alpha in the pack, and to do so through merit and worth rather than through empty promises and bribes.

Raiding dungeons themselves was only a means to an end. In order to continue being the hero and the leader, I had to continue to be on top of my game. I had always dreamed about becoming the leader of a raid dungeon party, simply because that meant that I was the one with my head on straight, who called the strategies and ultimately became the one that could decide if we won or lost. That was an incredibly powerful thing to feel, when in my cases I often feel like my destiny is completely out of my hands. And so my dream would always be trying to attain that level of power. Raiding for me was never for the loot, it was for the prestige, and that is why I continued playing.

That and the purest relationships I think I could ever have with a bunch of pixels depicting effeminate elves, midgets, minotaurs, and walking cadavers. I will miss World of Warcraft, but I highly doubt I will return to it. Perhaps, when my college days are over and I have a more steady occupation, I will return to MMOs and play them again. Maybe I will someday reach my goal to lead an army of other players, to be the real hero, but until then, I will settle for being the hero of my own worlds.

The Art of Diplomacy IV

•August 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I am terrible with remember the names of the servers I have played on. I think the reason for it is tied with the fact that I only play on one server at a time, and as such, I often do not have to think about it. I simply log on and play, often without even looking at my character on the character select screen. Which in many cases is limited only to indicating whether or not someone hacked into your account and pawned off all of your stuff.

Around November of the Christmas break of 2006, I finally gave up on seeing the old members of the Bleeding Hollow Clan and once again proved to a fresh new server, taking with me the namesake I had become so fond of. This time I actively sought out a guild intending to become raiders. The guild I chose was called Paradigm. Their intent was to be relatively casual in their endgame play, thus making it a little more accessible for myself, a college student, to be able to play with them.

Needless to say, the guild was great. I quickly found several players that I made very good friends with and was able to play with for a long period of time without concern over myself losing ground to them. This guild went through several instances of politics such as some guild members being absolute jerks to others, and forcing them to leave. One particular person was a player named Parias. This guy was an ass, plain and simple.

Despite seeing ourselves as a casual raiding group, we often were compared very closely to the premier ‘serious’ raiding guild on the server. I don’t recall their name, but they did sound like they meant business, especially with the Burning Crusade coming out in January, thus ushering in new content and making the previous dungeon crawls pretty much irrelevant. At one point we were complete upstaged by the guild on a major world event that we had hoped to initiate with our entire guild present, a nice gift from our senior guild members to the rest of us who had never been involved in the one-time event known as “The Ambassador”.

As time passed, a problem began forming in the guild. Several members of the guild were already advanced enough to start working on some of the new endgame content while a second group struggled to get to the right level. The problem this was causing was the development of two tiers and effectively a division of the guild into raiders and non-raiders. This is often frustrating for both parties because the more powerful members are too busy getting good loot to help the lesser players get stronger, and the the more powerful members are stuck twiddling their thumbs waiting for enough people to reach the stage where they can make large groups and go into the bigger dungeons. Eventually, this led to several of the senior members of the guild either quitting or moving to another guild. Our guild leader, frustrated over the experience, was getting burned out and wasn’t seen for two weeks.

One of the officers that was still a weak character like the majority of us, started getting the feeling that our guild leader had given up on us, much like what had happened in Dissension all those years ago. As such, he suggested a mass exodus of all of the active players in Paradigm to move into a new guild in order to start fresh without all the inactive players. Eventually, our old guild leader returned and cussed us out, claiming that his mother had died and that he was grieving for those two weeks. To be honest, I have heard plenty of tall tales in my experience on the Internet and I had very strong doubts about our old guild leaders claims.

Under new leadership, under the banner name, Anathema, we finally got to see some endgame dungeons. Even though irrelevant with the expansion having come out at this point (Late February or March), we still were encouraged to learn the old stuff because it was easier and the loot would help us when we went into the new regions that the expansion provided. Despite not being as powerful as the knight in our group, I was practically the hero when a powerful monster wandered into us when we were recovering. We never managed to defeat any of the boss monsters, but we had a lot of fun.

Of course, during our existence, the ‘hardcore guild’ constantly hung over our head. They were getting through content faster than us, which wasn’t much of a problem, but after Parias was kicked out of Paradigm, he had joined this rival guild, and many suspect he was the one that got us one-upped at the “Ambassador” event.

Eventually, on the forums, one of the sweethearts of our guild decided to call out Parias. For the past months that the server had been running, Parias has done nothing but put down everyone he has met. Even the hardcore guild chose to kick him out due to his behaviour and he has been trolling the game since. Well, our hero stepped up to the plate with a rather interesting challenge. A duel with a twist. Our hero was going to stand in an area where any player can attack any other player, regardless of faction, and he would not defend himself if Parias came and attacked him. If Parias killed this other player within one hour from when the challenge began, our martyr would quit the server, a serious blow to our guild, because he was both a nice guy and a good player. The twist was that although our hero wouldn’t fight, anyone else could fight on behalf of himself or Parias. If Parias failed, he would have to leave the server in shame.

What suprised me, was the number of people who joined our sweetheart’s side. Alliance members, low level players, high level players, even our rivals, the entire guild, rallied behind our martyr in order to get rid of Parias. Naturally, the bastard turned down the challenge, but this ended up leading to a rather interesting conversation between members of Anathema and this guild that had been the thorn in Paradigm’s backside. We explained both our sides of the story, and ended up finding out some things we never knew.

Paradigms original guild leader was a butt head. Although he had claimed that we were supposed to be casual, he was constantly pushing us to become a hardcore guild, and was constantly trying to one up the rival guild. When the “Ambassador” event was up for grabs, the rival guild even invited our guild to join them but our guild leader had squelched the offer, wanting all or nothing. Needless to say, that forum thread patched up a lot of hard feelings. There was still the rivalry, but it was much friendlier.

So with how great things were going, what happened that caused me to quit? In reality, it was myself. For one thing, as always I was the victim of power creep, mostly becuase my colleagues had 9 to 5 jobs and so could be on regularly, whilst I on the other hand had very sporadic work schedules that would often leave me just wanting to go to bed after most days, without playing. With the help of my guildmates, who were now involved in the endgame material, I was stuck. I could defeat monsters, but the entire thing became just a grind with hours on end of just killing the same damned monsters to turn in a quest, only to have to do another quest to kill another set of the little bastards, only this time a different colour and a few levels higher. I was fed up, but also very mournful.

I had vowed this would be the last time I would play World of Warcraft and I meant it. I got all my affairs in order. Crafting materials were sent to the guild bank, I gave all the gold I had to one wonderful player who had given me several loans in the past. I think I handed out a significant amount of interest, by about 350%. (It was a significant amount.) And I said my heartfelt goodbyes. It was heartbreaking telling them I was leaving, especially with all their compliments at how wonderful a person I was. It struck me at my core and I must have cried for 10 minutes before I finally hit the unsubscribe button. They say friendships on the Internet can be extremely pure, and I agree wholeheartedly, the emotions I felt when i left were extremely powerful.

Sometimes, even now, I think about the game. I wonder what my guild mates are doing, if they are even still on the same server, and a toy with the idea of joining again. However, I often squelch these thoughts. I didn’t want to continue paying for a game I didn’t like playing, and with the summer around the bend, I was going to be far too busy to play a game I hated. But who knows, it’s coming around to the 3 month mark in my new attempt to quit. Maybe I’ll relapse again, maybe I won’t. Hopefully I will find better drugs before then. Maybe get my first rock.

But that’s another story.

The Art of Diplomacy III

•August 14, 2007 • Leave a Comment

There were no two ways about it. World of Warcraft was a drug and I was addicted.

I was first introduced to the game when one of my roommates, Ryan acquired it upon release and I became rather intrigued by the game. Prior to World of Warcraft, I never played any massively multiplayer online games. Not even the quintessential Runescape, which is an incredibly popular game that is often played in school computer labs incessantly during my middle school years. Prior to World of Warcraft, I never really saw the appeal of these sorts of games.

I think what ultimately sucked me into the game was the combination of the license and the gameplay. For one, Warcraft was a series of games I had been playing since my first computer. The creators of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment, was probably one of the first computer game developers that I became a fan of. It was the first company that when they announced a new game, I was rubbing my little hands together because these games sounded great to me.

World of Warcraft was the transformation of my first real-time strategy game (RTS) into a role-playing game with the entire world fully realized. And so, when I first played the game on Ryan’s PC under his good graces, it was pretty well the freebie that got me hooked.

Fast forward to August 2006. After being clean for about 3 months, I started twitching. At least mentally, I felt a twitch. I would watch old videos of my idol, “Laintime”, a player who actually made the warrior an extremely impressive and viable character in the unbalanced world of player vs. player combat. I would watch the gameplay, think about conversations with guild members, and with the long awaited expansion, the Burning Crusade on the horizon, I started developing a strong compulsion to play. Eventually I broke down.

I returned to my computer, restarted my subscription and went through the long, drawn out process of reinstalling the game client and then downloading all of the patches, including the ones that had been added since when I quit in April. Finding a new server that had popped up only a few weeks ago, I jumped back into the World of Warcraft. I had relapsed into my addiction.

“This time, things were going to be different.” I reminded myself as I logged into the Sentinels server. I then began to carefully craft my new persona. There was no way that I was going to stop playing the warrior class. After two years, I finally knew what I needed to know in order to play this class well, not only in going into dungeons, but also in playing on my lonesome. With the previous incarnation of Moraz, I was constantly getting my butt kicked by monsters because I was often dealing barely enough damage to bring them down before they took me down. This time I experimented with playing a more aggressive version.

Like every other time, I named this character “Moraz” (This can be done because character names are not universal, and so there can be many characters with the same name, provided they are on different servers.) and made him an undead character. For one, this was a major story shift for the mental image I had for Moraz’s character. I always preferred to see each incarnation of my character as being a more advanced case of his overall story. And for me, the second half of Moraz’s story began when he died.

Choosing to play an undead character also placed me in a completely different faction than what I was used to. Humans were part of the Great Alliance, made up of various canon races such as dwarves and elves. The undead, were members of the Horde, which comprised the classical adversaries such as orcs and trolls. However, Blizzard does a very interesting dance when it comes to the politics of the Horde and the Alliance. These two factions were hostile to one another, but not completely at war, but the problem was that both sides could not see eye-to-eye. They both are similar in their perspectives on things, but saw each other as aggressors and threats. I was especially annoyed and at the same time impressed, when I was still with that ‘villain’ guild with a human Moraz. We were often told by others: “If you want to play evil, join the Horde.” I am very sure that the most these people never played a Horde character long enough to understand their background before making up their opinions on who was good and who as evil. This could be used as a case of propaganda that we find in the United States after September 11th.

Needless to say, it wasn’t easy getting used to play a Horde character. For one, they seemed a lot more powerful with racial abilities and the overall territories that were available to explore. However, it was often difficult to determine where the dungeons were that were geared towards Horde characters instead of Alliance characters, plus having to find obscure characters and quest givers in the various cities and towns.

Eventually, my abilities as a warrior started developing a reputation as it always had. I was good at my job, and people appreciated that. At one point, I was running through a dungeon with a group of players who were also good at their jobs and were impressed by my capabilities. Finally, at the end of the dungeon, they asked me if I was interested in joining their guild. Seeing as how well they played, the fact they were friendly, and were of an equal measure of power compared to me, there was little reason I wouldn’t join. As such, I became a member of the Bleeding Hollow guild.

This group of players was extremely supportive and diverse, coming from various places. I eventually got onto voice chat when playing with them, simply because they preferred to talk vocally. Hearing a human voice while playing not only meant better coordination with a group, but it also brought a more human component to the game that is missing when just using text. When school started though, I began drifting away from this newfound circle of friends. Not because of disinterest but because of keeping my marks up. Eventually they started moving ahead of me and I would struggle to catch up. Finally, it got to the point where I just wasn’t seeing them online anymore, and so I imagined that they had ditched me.

This is the low that follows my highs. These are the points when my whole world comes crashing down. At this point I am too far gone to form a relationship with anyone else, and so I am pretty well stuck in neutral. When the guild I am in disbands, it is often the end of the current incarnation of my character and I am forced to move on to my next dose. By dose, I mean heading to new server and repeating the process. And just like a drug, I would falsely believe that at some point, I would get the ultimate high and wouldn’t come down. My last dose, would be the greatest one I ever had, and was incredibly close to the ultimate high, that I remember weeping when I failed to reach it.

Awfully Entertaining

•August 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

We interrupt “The Art of Diplomacy” for a moment. For one, simply because I need a change of pace, and I wanted to give a quick discussion on a different topic.

WARNING: The following victim depicts violent scenes and dark humour, viewer discretion is advised.


Some of your out there might be chuckling, some of you will be appalled, but face it, it isn’t a really bad adaptation of “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid is it? Yeah, that last line was pretty lame, but I found this video interesting not just because of the comedic value, but it also taps into an interesting human response.

You remember dead baby jokes, right? Why exactly do we laugh at these kinds of things? It isn’t because they are actually funny, so much as they are witty and just so awful there really isn’t an effective response. I can’t even remember the explanation myself personally for why I find this so entertaining, but I think it may have something to do with just how our society functions.

Comedy in itself, is mostly built around the concept of putting ourselves above someone else. Sometimes at the expense of the comedian, or the person the comedian is talking about. George Carlin suggests that his job is to “Think up goofy shit and notice funny things that happened to you that you forgot to laugh at.” Between these three methods of funny there really isn’t anything in between. There are not many funny moments that actually leave someone in a lower position after the exchange in some form or another. Even if personal injury or loss is involved, there is often a change in social heirarchy as the underdog gets a ‘leg up’ on his superiors.

From www.sxc.hu
Sorry, but it had to be used.

There seems to be a fascination with morbid and altogether uncouth content. Over the years we have seemed to become desensitized to it and require bigger thrills in our media. Instead of the slapstick of the Muppet Show, we dra entertainment from the suffering of others. Reality TV shows like Fear Factor and Jackass seem to provide their entertaining comedic value often by showing stupid people doing extremely stupid things. It does reaffirm that we are smarter than these people, but is this really the height of comedy?

What ever happenned to the incredibly wry wits that actually made us feel more intelligent, and that did indeed bring us to the comedic turnover of the heirarchy. Whatever happened to witty insults like the ones found here? It seems as though the media is playing to a stupider market and is running out of these bad ideas to keep up entertained.

However, is it really that we’re getting stupider? Or is the media making us think we’re stupid?

The Art of Diplomacy II

•August 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I suck at writing titles, and I think it shows in how easily I can meander out of one intended topic and come into another. The idea behind the Art of Diplomacy is a description of so of my experiences on the Internet in negotiating my identity in a group. Currently, that discussion is focused on the World of Warcraft and the guilds that I have participated in.

The World of Warcraft is generally built as a game that is to indulge the ego of the user. This is done through the acquisition of cool looking gear, acquiring titles, completing quests, and gaining a name in community. There are some other uncommon routes for the player to have a satisfying experience, including beating up those statistically weaker than you or flaming over the forums. During my first foray into the World of Warcraft, my personal vice was socializing. I liked the idea of having power and notoriety. Being able to rise in the ranks of a guild and to have a large base of contacts with which to play with or simply to chat with while doing monotonous things like hunting for crafting materials or fishing.

When I got back to university after my summer months working, I had the fortune to be saddled with my two good chums that I bunked with the previous year. They too had ended severed their ties with their previous communities and we all agreed to join one of the servers that had opened so that we could play together. I played a warrior, as I always did, Ryan played a destructive spellcaster, and Scott played a heavily armoured healer. We were a good team, though I often felt like the baby in the group because I never developed a true expertise in gameplay. (There were several instances of Ryan hollering down the hall for me to “Take the ****ing loot.” because I was hesitating in taking a sword that was clearly designed for my character type.)

We ended up joining a “villain guild”. Because good and evil was a relatively objective concept between the two major factions of the game, it was often assumed that players were acting for mostly the right reasons when they were out adventuring. However, some people would like to roleplaying themselves as being ‘evil’, inasmuch that their motives were less wholesome and their backgrounds even more so. Though the name escapes me, this “villain guild” wasn’t made up of antisocial players- quite the opposite in fact. This was a highly socialable guild with aspirations to enter the endgame scene eventuall and unlike in the previous guild, there wasn’t that much of a power level different between myself and the guild master, so I quickly became friends with him.

As it always seems to be the case, come the summer months and the guild was starting to run down. The guild master was getting busy with real life matters and needed someone to take over. Since I was a keener, played a lot, was nice to everyone, and had garnered a great deal of trust from the master, there was little doubt who his successor would be. I was king for a day

Of course, despite all my keener attitude and aspirations, the problem was that again I didn’t have the experience necessary to lead a guild. I became extremely evident that being a guild leader was real work. That’s right. Having taken up the position simply by charisma, I was completely unprepared for the stuff that our previous guildmaster had been dealing with for the past 8 months or more. Furthermore, the senior members of the guild, including my roommates looked to other guilds for their endgame groups, leaving me to deal with a legion of abscent and billigerant newbies. I continued playing for a few more weeks, getting to such a state when playing a warrior that sections that demanded a group to come with you became soloable. After clearing out this supposedly unbeatable dungeon I gave my wealth to one of my roommates. Deleted my characters and ended my subscription.

I had gotten used to the formula of the game. I would get strong, join a guild, play with them and love every minute of it. Summer would come around and real life would pretty well kill my social gaming. I was fed up. And so for 3 months I was off of the game, cold turkey.

In the end however, 3 months was just enough to shake out the doubt and cobwebs. Early August I got the bug again, and resubscribed. Things would be different though. For the majority of my playtime prior to that summer, I had played human characters, all of whom went by the name “Moraz”. When I unsubscribed I declared to myself that “Moraz was dead.” When I resubscribed in August, it was half true.

“Moraz” was now undead.