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Everquest and the future of gaming Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by phil audet, Canada Jan 1, 2003
Technology   Opinions


Here I was again, alone at my computer in the early morning hours. Over the past few years I had felt and nurtured something inside. This thing was really emptiness more than anything, emptiness born out of a feeling of helplessness. You see about 5 years ago I had bought my first computer. Now instead of sitting and passively being fed TV and radio media, I was able to actively search and digest information on anything. This anything is difficult to comprehend; I now had a tool at my disposal that was only limited by my imagination. If there was a concept out there ranging from music to philosophy to how the NRA worked, I could find this information out. If I wanted to talk with people about why some part of my computer didn’t work with another, there were places and people with similar problems and backgrounds. Why then was there this deep unease? There must be a solution to this problem in one of the search engines out there? Perhaps the problem now lay in the fact that there was simply too much to do? How about the fact that here was something that could never be fully controlled by one person, one nation, One Corporation? The more I thought and searched on it the more lost and confused I became. I never found any solutions in the online role-playing game which robbed me of over 2 years of life. What everquest gave me was something that brought out the same compulsiveness and habits that any gambler, junkie or alcoholic has. With one huge difference: those people could more easily find help and support networks to help them with their addictions. This game was a brutal psychological addiction; there are long periods in my life now that only hold memories involving everquest, not even necessarily good memories. What a great way to deal with my apathy for how shitty life and society were. If it was cold and miserable outside, I could sit in my living room in my shorts and explore this dynamic world. The worst consequences of a bad day here were maybe losing some gear on an old corpse in the game. Nobody judged anyone else here on their real physical appearance. New friends and adventures were available at anytime on any day. The best way to achieve popularity in a world like this is simple as well. The whole world is fundamentally based on status, if you had the best gear and items in the game; you were basically a god or hero. This was simple enough; just spend more time on the game than anyone else playing. How did I not see the addiction forming? I was in complete oblivion. I would go to visit my parents on Christmas and my thoughts were obsessed with getting back into this world. Even now after not playing for over 6 months I still have cravings to “log on” and put in “just” a couple hours. Many friends and family don’t see the true insidiousness of this all. This is not Mario brothers or Tetris, you don’t win everquest, in fact you really can NEVER reach the summit in advancing your character or personal avatar. Tthis is the real Matrix right in our midst. I know- I lived in there for over 2 years. There are some great minds and lots of incredible energy, mostly our youth, being wasted in this game. I am not sure what frightens me more: the fact that no one really cares about this situation, or the fact that these games are in their infancy. It is the tip of the iceberg- so to speak. Everquest had a very basic in-game design and economy and not that much to pursue other than killing computer controlled creatures. With the evolution of computers, we are going to see an evolution in these games. The developers have learned what works and what doesn’t. The new games being designed now will be more invovled in all of their aspects, from individuality, excitement, adventure, economy, diversity, escape, and even more addicting. If the next terrorist attack were to destroy the everquest computers and databases without any hope of character recovery, I could confidently predict several things. There would be massive outcry, lawsuits, depression, and there would be many suicides. There are no laws against this game, there shouldn’t be. What there should be is education and support. Many people may argue that everquest is no worse than television in stealing our youth. How many T.V. addicts have left their child locked in a closet to die? How many have died after marathon 86 hours sessions? I recently was reading an article that was talking about the popularity of Everquest in a good way. According to this article's writers; every month over 8 million hours are spent playing Everquest. To put this into perspective and to help support my whole stance, it took approximately 7.5 million hours to build the empire state building. I think that anytime you base a business plan around an addiction, you will be successful.

Please send me your comments and ideas on this subject to rentonph@hotmail.com



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