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August 18, 2006

MMORPG Tourist: Eve Online

When I was younger, I used to enjoy browsing comic stores, used books and music stores, and computer game stores. Now that I'm in my 40's, the only stores I go to are Wal-Mart, Loblaws, and the SAQ. Comics, with very rare exceptions, are too juvenile, preachy, or pretentious for me to even look at anymore. I find it harder and harder to find music I'm interested in, and I just can't be bothered to dig through musty stacks looking for a book I'll probably never read anyway.

But I never thought I'd give up on computer games. From the earliest beginning of home computers, I've had one -- not to write, program, or process data, but to play stoopid, time-wasting games. And I loved every minute of it. I played the sprawling turn-based strategy games, I played the geeky role-playing games, I played the puzzle games, I played the real-time strategy games, and I played the action games. (I never played any sports or driving games though. I feel it's important to point that out.) And I loved them all.

But now the buzz is almost gone. I've tried getting into a few of the recent offerings, but I can't even finish the demos. I now have what most people assume is the curse of the young: a short attention span. It must be this fast-paced, consistantly-challenging lifestyle I find myself with. The games bore me.

But one game in the last year got my attention and kept it for a few months. World of Warcraft was fun. (I wrote about it a bit here.) It was easy to get into, could be played for short periods or much longer sessions, and had enough variety that when I was getting bored with one activity, I could switch to another. Eventually, I sucked all the entertainment out of it that I could and quit, but for a while I was very entertained.

WoW is a MMORPG, a Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game. In these types of games, a virtual world exists online where you can meet, interact, and fight other real people from around the world. Clever marketing people have decided that these games are the wave of the future, so computer game companies are busy creating their own virtual worlds for their nerd customers to inhabit. There are dozens and dozens of different games available, with many more under development.

Luckily for cheapskates like me, all this competition means free access to the games. Because the companies are each desperate to create 'buzz' for their offerings, many offer different varieties of 'demos' to allow potential customers to sample their games. Rather than buying new games for the next little while, I think I'm just going to take mini vacations in these alternate universes. And luckily for the readers of this blog, you will get to read about my upcoming adventures. Try not to get too excited.

Read the extended entry for my poorly written exposé of Eve Online.

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