Losing the Illusion of Permanence

Our games are great for providing a false sense of accomplishment. I leveled! I got a badge! We defeated the dragon! It is an accomplishment in some sense, but it does not clean the kitty litter, pay off your mortgage, or provide clean drinking water in Africa. That is fine. It does not need to. We all have our recreation and entertainment, and you just as easily might have been watching a sporting event or cog dancing. I am ecumenical about that.

Part of that sense of accomplishment comes from attachment and achievement. You leveled up. Maybe you said you leveled your warrior, but it is still your warrior. You are connected, you have built something. Even if you are grinding your way along a treadmill, the little number says 56 instead of 54. Advancement! Progress!

Building sand castles is not progress. You get memories, maybe a photograph, and the tide comes in. You have sand again. It might be fun making sand castles, but that fun is more like baking a cake than raising a barn. We know the barn will be gone someday too, but it is less ephemeral.

Is this game The One? Will it last for years rather than months? We build up our characters. We spend hours getting that purple set. We have massive guild drama over loot allocation. And then we move on to the next game. The next The One might be several years away, or maybe you know this next game is just a bagatelle. The flames are barely on the horizon, and already it tastes like ashes.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “Losing the Illusion of Permanence”

  1. Take a look at the vast majority of spiritual disciplines, including big chunks of the major religions. The rhetoric you just used to describe life in the virtual, they use to describe life in the real. The sand castle analogy is especially fitting.

    All our decisions of importance are based on layers of arbitrarily determined meaning. Warrior level 56 might mean more to you than what the receptionist at your work thinks of you. Someone else will think the opposite. Both are right, and wrong. There is no permanence – anywhere – and all matters of importance are arbitrarily designated such by someone with no more authority than you.

  2. I may be too confused about this post…

    Let me wax philosophical for just a moment on the merits of accomplishm****

    “Ooo…I found a shiny badge”

  3. Nice writing! I used to stop by here and thought of it as just another MUMORPIGUH ramble site, but the last few times there’s been some excellent stuff – thanks!

    In response to what you said, I think games are essentially soul viruses, they’re designed to hook into our urges on various levels. Finding out what happens next, looking flash, being better than the other guy, beating that bastard… etc. These are exactly the same urges that drive us through life, just in a synthetic environment.

    And really – permanence? We are here and it is now – the rest is largely conjecture. What do you actually =have= apart from sense input, memory and imagination?

  4. Okay, first, a philosophical answer: LOL EVERYTHING IS EPHEMERAL AND FLEETING, INCLUDING ZUBON AND ME and all the MMO’s we play…

    If you’ve forgotten that, please take a moment to look at your watch and ponder on how many more seconds remain in your meager life.

    Anyway, the actual answer is that, like your life, the ephemerality of MMO’s doesn’t matter because you enjoy what you have while you have it, and then move on to new challenges. You only get to enjoy your achievement until you get bored with it – then you WANT a new frontier, something new to do.

    If you’re seeking permanence in an MMO, you are looking in the wrong place. Try a standalone RPG or adventure game. Fallout 3 might be a good place to start. MMO’s are as transitory as life itself – that’s the whole appeal, actually.

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