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Wednesday · July 16 2003

The following isn't a real game review, so you're safe to read it.

Gamespot gives Real Life a 9.6. Greg Kasavin's review of life, the game we play every day, is a dead-on mimic of a computer game review. It is very, very funny if you've read game reviews or played MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games: Ultima Online, Asheron's Call, Everquest, etc.) A sample:

Player death is a serious issue in real life, and cause for continued debate among players, who often direct unanswerable questions on the subject to the game's developers, who are apparently (and understandably) so busy that they generally keep silent. In short, players who die--at the hands of other players, by the occasional environmental hazard, or when their account expires--are essentially removed from the gameworld and apparently cannot return at all. This further discourages players from engaging in PVP combat, but it does help real life's rapidly growing player population from getting too out of hand (though eventually there will be a need for additional servers).
The article is parody, but I found it worth reading beyond just the humor. The computer games produced today (especially the massively multiplayer sort) are more than just complex visual feasts or simple time wasting diversions. Games have taken on a life of their own, sometimes swallowing individual ambition whole. Some gamers make their income (via Ebay) through their virtual careers in-game. It's impossible to imagine if you haven't been a part of the community first hand, but gaming has approached, and sometimes superceded, reality. The digital servers of Everquest are the 79th richest nation on Earth. Some players make over $3 an hour for their "work".

Games are a charming surrogate for reality. When I read Brave New World as a teenager, the reality vacation known as soma was something I could only understand as a drug: heroin, marajuana, alcohol. I now think that complex games simulating real life interaction are a closer realization of soma than alcohol or narcotics. The simulation experience lasts longer, rewards you with friends and money, and is legal. It is just as addictive. There is nothing virtual about having few thoughts outside of "the game". Games are meta-life, nowhere close to the 9.6 Gamespot gives real life.

Ultimately, if you take a step back and look at the big picture, you'll see that real life is an impressive and exciting experience, despite its occasional and sometimes noticeable problems. It says a lot for real life that, even with these issues, it's still very highly recommendable. Simply put, those missing out on real life are doing just that.

What you had to say:
July 17 2003

The Wired article was great. It was well conceived to follow the path of some of the articles and intersect briefly with their "real" lives.

I also found the article to be an affront to my Bulgarian heritage. And you're a bastard for linking to it. :)

© 2003 Jason Keglovitz