One of the things I love about World of Warcraft specifically and social multiplayer video games in general is the way we are actively building a cultural history.
A video game environment used to be pretty personal. You played a game, and the most social it ever got was people watching you play on the TV set in your living room. You want to share what yuo’re doing, you tell people later.
Now, streaming and Twitch and all sorts of stuff. Why play a game when you can watch the streaming video of other people having fun? Or something.
But in the middle, in MMO land… groups of people getting together, forming guilds, linking with typed chat and voice comms, and sharing experiences.
Experiences that happen to you… but not really you.
It’s your avatar, and no, we’re not wired in to feel it’s pain. Yet. If it ever does happen, we know who will be driving it.
Still, your avatar, and you’re invested in what happens to you, but you can’t actually die when you screw up by the numbers.
You can do something galactically stupid, and look! it ain’t intensely personal and private anymore. Oh no, you just shared that with all your friends. They saw it. Some of them took pictures and laughed.
We’re growing our culture as we go. Things happen often enough in game that it’s the new normal. We take it in stride, and move on.
But how would the squares, those sad types out in the real world react to some of this stuff?
Thats the best bit. As time goes on, we become the new normal. What we get used to, and how we talk about it, gets absorbed into the outside world.
People will start adopting our terminology and ideas, even if they’ve never played a game before. Suckers.
What is the most contradictory new concept we’ve created?
I think it’s obvious.
Standing in the fire.
Think about it.
The entire concept of standing in the fire, just wtf.
In the real world, you stand in the fire, you catch on fire, and you have no choice stuffs start moving.
If your body can move, and you catch on fire, there may be a split second where your nerve endings haven’t reported latest events, but just as soon as you catch up to OMIGOD PAIN HURTS your body already moved you. The challenge is to stop moving, drop and roll. Your body doesn’t like that plan, it wants to run around screaming.
Standing in the fire? Not something that happens in the real world.
Only in a video game can ‘you’ stand in the fire and not even notice.
But you still take damage. And your friends, who are there playing with you and who might be responsible for keeping you alive? They’ll notice. And as history has shown us, they won’t be shy about letting you know that something might be happening to your nether regions, and perhaps, just maybe, you should do something proactive about it.
“Hey, Dipro? Get out of the fire. Get out of the fire. No, really, you’re standing in the, just holy crap dude, don’t freaking debate about it, just move, you’re on fire.”
It’s only one little thing in the game, but it really shows the difference between a virtual world and the real one. How can you not know you’re on fire?
Only in a video game, ONLY in a video game do you need someone to tell you to get your butt out of the fire.
The idea of someone just standing there with their feet on fire, totally oblivious? Someone so stupid they wouldn’t even move if we set them on fire?
That’s out there. We gave that to the world.
I’d love to see a title added to the game, from a tracked achievement – Character took more than 50 million cumulative damage from standing in environmental damage. Title awarded? “The Hotfoot”.
Alternate title, “The Hotstepper”, but that’s only because I’d like to see a character named Hossenfeffer the Hotstepper.
What else are we creating in our artificial game worlds? What other new cultural baggage are we creating that will seep out into the real world, stuff we take for granted but is unique to life in an MMO, stuff we might not even be noticing?
I love how this concept is enduring. Not just the standing in the fire, but the standing in the fire oblivious while your friends yell at you.
Case in point;
Throne of Thunder.
Looking for Raid.
Wing 4, boss 3.
I have never seen more people standing in the fire than the first week of Lei Shen in the Throne of Thunder LFR.
After your first phase 2, when a pillar is destroyed and that entire quadrant of the floor is arcing with big old glowing blue lightning?
Yeah… it’s blue fire.
The first week Wing 4 came out on LFR, and our guild was in there typing over and over;
“The floor is on fire, get off of it. Move. It’s on fire. You’re standing in fire. No really, move out of the blue lightning. No, don’t drag the boss in that quadrant, it’s on fire. The floor, it is on fire. It’s pretty blue fire that hurts, stop standing in it. Hello? Fire check? Still burns. Move please? Please?!?”
Standing in the fire. An enduring legacy we leave to the generations that come after us. God help them.