Sunday, February 01, 2009

Keeping it real....

Fantasy has always been a tempting escape....sometimes healing, sometimes soothing, sometimes addicting, sometimes obsessive.

I enjoy it quite a bit myself...not only traveling through worlds described in books and movies, but interacting with worlds built with human rules and with computer programming. My first experience with virtual worlds involved no computers at all: Dungeons and Dragons with other members of my college dorm. The adventures are in the imagination, but these are social games, and the bonding that occurs can be very real.

In a later game, The Fantasy Trip, I actually developed a romantic interest in the girl who was running a campaign (we both played in each other's fantasy world)...had things worked out differently it could have affected my life in a major way. Another person who played in these worlds would later be the best man at my wedding.

For people who are disabled, the computer versions of such games can do a lot to bring elements into their lives they might otherwise have given up on: romance, struggles, travel.... I have played many of these games myself.... Everquest (affectionately known as "Evercrack" for its addictive nature), World of Warcraft, Maplestory, silly Facebook games, and Second Life. Second Life, in particular, gives me a chance to use my programming skills to craft things in the virtual world that make the game more fun. Some people actually make a "real life" (or, in gamer-speak, RL) living doing things in the virtual world.

On the balance, I am very pro-gaming but here are some examples of people who take their fantasies too far: computer fraud, attempted kidnapping, even murder. People to whom gaming seems odd will blame the games, just as people who've never fired a gun will blame the guns. People with some experience realize that there are individuals who will make a mess wherever they go, however they do it.

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