Virtual Friends, Life, and Relationships: Part 1 — The Game’s Afoot

1 Mar

vir·tu·al (vûr’cho-o–?l)
adj.

  1. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name: the virtual extinction of the buffalo.
  2. Existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Used in literary criticism of a text.
  3. Computer Science Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network: virtual conversations in a chatroom.
American Heritage Dictionary

Not at all sure where I’m going with this, but here goes . . .
During the past year, I have discovered MMORPGs. Well, one in particular: the City of Heroes/City of Villains diptych. Previously, my online gaming experience had been chiefly limited to Halo 2 team skirmishes during which I normally handed by helmet often by the opposite team. Still, much fun was had.
Then, thanks to my son, City of Heroes was discovered. For those of you unfamiliar with the principles behind MMORPGs, I’ll let you peruse the link above for information. The main point being that MMO and RP don’t necessarily need both be present, but having them both certainly makes it much more fun and interesting. I originally played for about six months, got bored with the repetitive play, and then started again about six months later.
During this second round, I discovered a group of people who seriously role-played their characters (the RP part of MMORPG). For me, this added a whole new—and missing—dimension to the game. In addition to the gameplay, they posted stories about their characters on a semi-public forum. Can you say all the dangerous keys to feeding addictive behavior?
I’ve always known that I possessed addictive tendencies and strived very, very hard to divert those with relatively healthy activities, avoiding the abuse of recreational substances. (We can have a discussion about Internet addiction later, thank you very much.) This, however, was simply too tempting to ignore. What writer can resist the opportunity to create and act out their own characters and have a ready and (generally) appreciative audience ready to read their work? (Under synonyms, see: dangerous diversions, time sink, non-paying work.)
So, is that that writing wasted effort? Yes and No. Yes: it is time spent on work that is not being written for potential sale, thus taking time away from writing projects that could be. No: it serves as a good warm-up for the muse and a way to experiment with writing without doing too much damage, and also provides fodder for ideas that could potentially lead to paying work. At least two ideas for novels have come from this effort. (While progress on Battlefield has definitely suffered, at least writing has not stopped completely. Take that excuse/explanation as you will.) What other effects, besides those on writing, has this had?
To be continued . . .

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