Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Pixelated Life

Have you ever wondered if what we call “real life” isn’t someone else’s World of Warcraft. Perhaps this material world, solid to us, is pixels on the computer screen of some alien creature. What if you are the avatar.

Recently one of my neighbors with several children got a puppy dog. And in that mysterious way that like knows like, the puppy dog wont pay attention to anyone but the young children. She’s so cute as she scrambles after them on her tiny legs and she whines piteously when they go indoors and she can’t get in. But as I stood there with this glow in my heart as she gamboled about it occurred to me that maybe there was some overweight alien with long fangs and two heads in his underwear eating Cheetos and mashing the keyboard, muttering, “God, who designed this stupid Pit Bull creature.”


For the sake of easy reference let’s call this creature playing your life your Guardian Angel. I’ve decided to call mine Angela. She’s the one that keeps me from running the red light when my mind is away in outer space. She’s the one makes the decisions I fain to call intuition. She’s also a leveling manic.

A few years ago a friend said to me that all parents should enjoy their kids before the age of five because after five all kids want to do is grow up and act like adults. That certainly was true of me. I never was the type to hang out with kids my own age; if adults were doing it that’s what I wanted to do too. I was in such a hurry: got to grow up, got to get that degree, got to get that wife, make those kids, buy that house. It came as quite a shock to hit level 40. What happened. Where did all the time go. Maybe that is the reason I remain opposed to this trend by Blizzard to make faster mounts available at lower levels. It seems the last thing we need today is for youth to be in more of a hurry.

I think this also explains the time period when my life went all haywire. It seemed like I had become another person. Not in a radical way but nothing went right. I was associating with people: who were they, where did they come from. Why was I doing this job. That instance called India; that wasn’t me. I am convinced that an entire ten year period of my life can be explained by the fact that my Guardian Angel loaned her account to a friend.

Here’s a humbling thought: what if I’m just an alt. What if I’m just that character that somebody rolled and played for a while and decided they liked a Ret Pally better. What if they play with me only when they get bored running President Obama. Heaven forbid, what if their main is a Warlock. I don’t think I could handle knowing that.

Here’s another humbling thought. Pride. Think about how poets and other creative people talk about their muse. Oh ha ha ha. What would you think if every time you crafted that bag or enchanted an item your Warcraft character said, “My genius at work.” It sounds silly put that way. Maybe it is silly.

It’s actually quite liberating to realize that you are not in control of your own life. How is it your fault that you crashed the car. It’s that idiot angel who is still using the damn arrow keys to move; that’s the problem. They have a freaking mouse but noooo that’s not the way God taught them to do it.

The Forums

Think about the forums. It must be awesome. All those angels up there complaining about the Business Conference in Brussels lockout timer and how the developers in patch 2009.07.01 in Life: Europe are nerfing the economy and making it so hard to mine holiday time.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find the forums to be basically the same as on earth.

* Why do races have to be pretty? 06/30/2009 10:11:30 AM PDT

I just saw the dumbest post from a "girl" or troll who wanted the prettiest race. Although that might not have been serious, there are plenty of people who won't roll a class based on their attractive factor. Why must our toons be beautiful? I personally wish I would've rolled Horde when I started playing just because sans blood elf, their characters look more realistic. (obviously in-game realistic, not IRL :P) Orcs in my opinion are the ugliest race, but I'd still roll one. Who cares? To themselves they are attractive. Must we really be so superficial?

I imagine that’s exactly the type of thing they talk about in the Guardian Angel’s forum of Life: The Carebear. ($29.99 today only on Cloud Nine!)

And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if customer support was just as bad. How would you like it if you kept dying in Rwanda and some blue angel told you the game was “working as intended.” Or imagine you were the angel responsible for Adolph Hitler and when you whined about a keylogger and a hacked account they told you to get an authenticator.


There is a wise old saying that everything you play, plays you. I think it’s poignantly true. Perhaps this is the reason RPGs are popular. We want to run character’s lives because we grasp in some unconscious way that someone else is running our lives. Those pixilated characters are just the final installment of a chain of RPGs that go all the way up the seven levels of heaven and hell. We know that when we die someone out there somewhere is going to be wishing they had rolled a Tauren instead. So unconsciously we roll a Night Elf. Oh sweet revenge.

I realize of course that a game—perhaps the game—is only a metaphor. I don’t know if Angela is real. Sometimes I think she is. What I do know is if there is anyone out there clicking away, punching out the key strokes that are my life, this I know for certain. She makes me sweat.


krizzlybear said...

While I may cringe at the possibility that I'm actually being controlled by a higher authority, I laugh at the stranger possibility that he (or she) is being controlled as well. It's a giant chain of neverending avatars and toons, and the best I should be getting out of it is that in this game of life, the immersion factor is well-done, and I should give the devellopers a lot of credit.

The Rokk said...

All I can say is that if I'm someone's in-game avatar, they either have a) poor keyboarding skills, or b) a drinking problem.

Still, food for thought!

Lance said...

There... is... no... spoon!

Larísa said...

Can't help thinking about The Truman Show. Is the world really what we think it is?

Another thought: what if the crapiness of the player mastering the avatar that is me is directly related to the crapiness I show in handling my poor little mage?

If I learn how to play Larísa properly, suddenly the odd pieces in my life that don't seem to fit anywhere suddenly will fall into place and I'll be levelling smoothly, as intended? No more punishment?

We're all just a part of a huge cosmic game... It certainly tickles my imagination. And I serously loved this post.
Cheers, bartender!

Ziboo said...

ROFL! Well done. Wouldn't it be awful to find our you were an alt?

krizzlybear said...

I believe that the worst fate of all is that I'm just a chinese gold farmer, and that all my posessions will be sold to another account if I ever win the lottery =(

Klepsacovic said...

My player is clearly an idiot, giving me high int, low str like a mage, but there are no mages! Idiot.

@krizzlybear: And probably deleted too! Is your RL name random letters by any chance?

Elnia said...

@Krizzlybear. The immersion factor is well-done, like a steak.

@Larisa. There is a jar for tips. Over there, spelled TITS.

@Klepsacovic. What! No mages. I think not. My younger brother calls Einstein the "Great Wizard."

Fitz said...

Thank goodness my avatar controller decided to name me without special characters or accents on letters...at least my guildmates (coworkers and friends) can spell my name properly!

Cool entry, even if you disagree with the concept!

SolidState said...

This is actually a common theme in SciFi stories and a few movies.

One of the better movies I've seen that directly addresses this option of "universe within a universe" is "The Thirteenth Floor", however even "Men In Black" takes a humorous stab at this in both MIB movies, and there are other examples.

I remember as a kid reading one short SciFi story, I don't remember the name of the story or author, but the plot was fairly simple yet really kept me thinking about it for days later...

The story is, this utterly genius scientist, the kind other scientists go to for answers when they are stuck, is slowly going insane.

He confides in his friend (the teller of the story) that he thinks all of reality is contained inside a petry dish and that humanity is just a type of germ-experiment of a super-race. He claims e figured this out and because the super-race knows that he knows, they have implanted suicidal urges in him to stop him from spreading the truth and ruining the experiment.

Eventually of course the guy kills himself, leaving the character telling the story to sometimes wonder - could he have been telling the truth?

Amazing I still remember the story - I think I read it about 15 years ago :)