Thursday, February 28, 2008

To go outside of the box

"Come and have a look! It's the biggest tonk war ever on the bridge, just outside Stormwind!"
The call was heard in the trade channel in Stormwind the other night. Apparently we had got ourselves an enthusiastic audience.

What was the big fuzz about? Well it isn't usual to se about 15 high levelled players decked out in Kara gear, turning their backs to raiding and instead go playing with toy cars. I guess we weren't systematic about it, as a matter of fact most of us had never ever handled a tonk. We shot in all sorts of directions, bombing and putting out so many mines that it was almost impossible not to blow up in the air. Rules? No. It was rather some kind of everyone-to-everyone-game, kill or get killed, the last one to have the tonk left was a winner. Not surprisingly the most competitive member of the guild won - a candy bar of his own!

We tried out another few of those games, after which we split into two teams, standing on different sides of the bridge. The team that had any toy up and running longest was the winner. Myself I managed to test out if tonks can swim, after involuntarily doing a great jump into the moat. (No, mechanical toy cars DON'T like water.)

The most faithful one of our spectators was a little gnome that slipped into my side, asking in whispers if I was Swedish, seeing the Swedish sounding guild tag. Yes, I admitted, I was. "How old are you?" 40, I said, since I've once far all decided to be honest about that. He was stunned. Then it came: "I'm 11". I couldn't help smiling at the absurdity in the whole situation. Most of us that were running around shooting each other into pieces were between 25 and 40, with a few exceptions up and down. But maybe it actually takes some maturity to be able to forget about dignity and just enjoy childish playing. To put the script and the conventions aside, to not bother about marching into Karazhan to get the weekly quota of badges, gold and epic loot, where maiden has exactly the same harsh looks as she had last week, and where Netherspite goes down every so easily if you just handle the beams. To skip the daily quest or the levelling supposed to be done. To not stroll on the same paths as 90 percent of the other players.

Often it's very convenient to use the ready toys that Blizzard offer to us, to keep to the map, to keep to the assigned tracks. It's so easy to forget that the game offer a lot more - an arena, a world where we can create our own games and conditions. It takes a bit more of us. You have to think and be a bit creative, find new versions and concepts, find others who are willing to try it - and above all - to let go of the mind set that the there's one "right" way to play, that is productive and progressive.

If you think about it - actually there's nothing in the game that will be of any value in the future. Outside of the protecting walls of Azeroth it's completely irrelevant if your char is wearing a grey worn wool mantle or a shining purple one. Still we all fall for the eternal "improving-my-character-chase", since it's the obvious driving force in the game. I'm no exception myself, being an incorrigible competitive person.

Well, this night for once I put the script aside. But next week, you just wait - then I know a few bosses in Kara that will get their asses kicked. And it will be fun! It takes a trip to the terrain from time to time in order to really appreciate the main track.

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