Saturday, December 10, 2011

Level of Investment

If you're going to be a gamer, you have to make peace with certain realities.

"I am going to manipulate this piece of plastic so that I can make an imaginary elf man kill imaginary monsters. And I'm choosing to believe that this represents an acceptable use of my leisure time."

This bargain becomes more difficult as you come to understand more about the underlying technology.

"I am going to inefficiently edit a save file using an elaborate visual interface."

But its even worse when the game has no noble hero, and no grand conflict. Games with stories are one thing; people have been getting overly invested in stories for a long time. But in a game like Animal Crossing, or Minecraft, even seasoned virtual puppeteers have difficulty reconciling their choice of hobbies.

"I am going to design and construct an imaginary farm, then meticulously harvest imaginary wheat, so I can then feed it to imaginary chickens* so they'll pretend to lay imaginary eggs. I am going to pretend to do something that is in all ways toil."

*What the hell is wrong with you stupid things? I've built you a huge pen, why do you insist on crowding into one tiny corner?

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