"teh basement cat iz in ur screen, stealin' ur blogz..."

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

When games blur with reality...

I may have mentioned on here before, but I play Warcraft. I used to be a little bit shy of mentioning this, since it is essentially an RPG, and RPGs, classically, are for the geeks in the basement with some dice, a compendium or two, square glasses two inches thick and hair that would fit right on to one of the orcs or elves that they dream about.

Of course, that's the stereotype that the mainstream media has always portrayed and, scarily enough, as someone who in his younger years collected and played a lot of Warhammer, I can vouch for some of that stereotype. Fortunately, not everyone is like that. These pocketbook geeks come in many shapes and sizes, and tend to be very creative, intelligent people who really enjoy the chance to exercise their imaginations together. Added to that, these are the sorts of people who have a mind for strategy. The modern computer game counterparts are much the same.

I hear that parents often berate their children for sitting indoors at their computer screens playing these MMOs, or Massively Multiplayer Online games (some of them have the MMORPG moniker, such as Everquest, Warcraft, Age of Conan and so on and so forth). Why don't you go and make some real friends, they complain. They have failed, I fear, to grasp and understand how the internet has revolutionised social interaction. Some of these people they play with, whom they have never met, are as real friends as those at school or at work. Through all their online trials and tribulations together, they can come to trust one another enough to confide in and to seek advice for 'real life' troubles and share 'real life' successes.

It can't, of course, replace real world social interaction, but it is not without merit. In Warcraft, I play on Draenor (EU) and am a member of a guild known as Elite Addicts. We haven't made the most progression overall in terms of content, nor do we have the most members. We're not looking to achieve either, either. (On a tangential note, I love that the English language allows you to do that!) Elite Addicts are a Social Raiding guild, which means we raid the high-end content, but we're don't have strict attendance rules like some of the full-on raiding guilds. That may not mean much to anyone who doesn't play WoW, but I say this to paint a little picture of what this group of individuals are all about.

The Social and Raiding aspects extend to the Ventrillo server (an online chat server) that we use to communicate during raids, and also just for a chat when we're in the mood. As such we've had a lot more than typed conversations, and some of us have got to know each other pretty well.

As it happens, we have something pretty unique about us, which is that some of the core raiders actually know each other in the real world. In fact, they live in York. This led to someone suggesting offhand that it might be a nice idea for us to get together one weekend and meet up - a real world Guild Meet.

So we are.

About 15 computer game playing self confessed geeks shall be descending on York this weekend coming to put faces to names, have a bit of a party and *not* play the game for the entire time we're there. Which is kind of the point. Booze may be involved, but not for Shezelle, he's only 16. Some are driving up from the South East and are co-ordinating a lift so they can travel up together. We've got people coming not just from the UK, but from the Continent as well. They're literally flying/eurotunnelling in just for it. It's going to be quite the get-together.

You might be wondering why I'm blogging about this. In part, it's because I know my parents read this blog from time to time and I know they still have their preconceptions of computer games, so I want to illustrate something to them. In part it's because I'm really bloody excited about it.

The only weird part is that we tend to refer to each other by the names of our main character in the game, so we may need name badges, otherwise they're going to be calling me 'Kael' all the time...