If you’re wondering where I’ve been for the last I-don’t-know-how-long you’re not the only one. I tend to get really into something for a while (read, addicted to) and then I reach a certain point where I just get tired of it and walk away. I apparently did this with the blog a while ago, but I’ve done it with nearly every other website, sales site, group, and game I’ve been involved in in the past few weeks.
My sister’s second oldest girl came to visit for a week a couple of weeks ago and we had a BLAST! Then my brother came to spend a night, and a couple of friends from high school/church came dropped by with their boy that weekend. I had a great time, but I got maxed out on dealing with people, and had to take a huge break from people for a while. I think I’m getting over that now, and I’m slowly trying to get back into all the things I dumped, but it’s going slowly.
After the initial shock and confusion wore off I did start enjoying the game, much to my surprise. This game had hunting and fishing and the like, and being able to ‘go explore’ the woods and such is something I’m not able to do IRL. This particular game (as with every other MUD I’ve heard of, btw) was really built, though, for something quite different. The world of the game has different classes, different races, and genetic mutants all as character types, and they’re all supposed to be at war with one another. The main point of the game, for most of the players involved, is really to have a venue in which to go around killing each other. While there are plenty of opportunitiies to go on quests and adventures and go around hunting and fishing, earning fake money, and just generally chatting with people, that’s not what most people are there for, and they don’t seem to want others to be there for that either.
After a week or two of enjoying hunting and fishing and learning about the territories game, my character got old enough that other players could earn rewards for killing her (in the game, you don’t actually die, you come back to life again, you just lose all the gear you were wearing and have to build everything back from scratch). After dying a few times my perspective started changing. I started realizing how “important” it was to have good items stashed away for the next time I died, and it started becoming more appealing to find out which automated characters in the game had the ‘good gear’ on them (most people go around killing these “mobs” in order to get their gear… after all, they’re just robots, they’re not real people, even if they have a name and a description that describes them as humans). I had decided early on that I would never kill anything that wasn’t trying to kill me (unless it was a plant or an animal I intended to eat), but after a while this conviction started to erode, until yesterday, when I found myself attacking first out of fear and cockiness.
Chances are that character (a character from an enemy nation, but with a human running it) would have tried to kill me if I hadn’t attacked first, as he was attacking others at the time, but I don’t know that for sure. He ended up killing my character, and while I was fuming over having ‘died’, and thinking how great it would be to get to a level where I could get him back, it dawned on me just how far my morals had eroded to have gotten to that point. At some point I switched from just trying to have fun, survive, and enjoy the social interaction, to being cocky, greedy and vindictive.
Sure, it’s just a game, but it’s a game where you’re encouraged to attack, steal, kill, and destroy for no other purpose than entertainment, ‘social status’, greed, and adrenaline. It dawned on me that the only legitimate reason for continuing to play the game would be in some sort of ministerial role, but this particular MUD is setup in such a way that there is no room for ministry (it’s based in another world, with completely different social structures, and different made-up religions, and any attempt to bring real world things into the game is seen as breaking down the ‘role-playing’ function of the game as a whole).
With no opportunity for ministry, a game like that is left to those who enjoy role-playing games that let them act out all their aggressive tendencies without any real-world consequences. I suppose for someone without scruples, it’s a great thing to be able to go around killing and being killed without actually having the problem of dying. The problem is, you can’t play a role in a game where you’re throwing your morals out the window without eroding your morals in the real world. And no matter how strong your ability to tell reality from fiction is, I don’t believe you can emerse yourself in a world that promotes greed, violence, and one-upmanship without increasing your greediness, violent tendencies, and aggressiveness in the real world.
Besides all of that, being able to emerse oneself in another world is incredibly appealing. After I got over the initial shock of the environment, I really did start enjoying it, a bit (okay a lot) too much. I got addicted to an environment where I could ‘do’ all of the things I can’t do irl. I could run around all I wanted and not have to spend the next 2 days in severe pain; I could ‘climb’ mountains and stairs and ride a horse; I could chat and flirt without anyone having to realize I’m a near-30-year-old disabled social reject; and best of all, I could do it all from the comfort of my easy chair. I found all of this very addicting, and if not for the objections above, I would probably be there enjoying that aspect of it right now. Unfortunately, I have a real life to attend to. I have commitments and responsibilities I’ve really slacked on in the past few weeks, because hiding in the game was so much more appealing. I find myself wanting to search for a MUD that doesn’t have the kind of negatives this one had (although I doubt I’d find one), but I’m going to have to try to keep myself from doing that, as I’m sure I’ll have to account, if nothing else, for all the time I’ve wasted that could have been put to God’s use.