Fine Structure

Discovery And Games

I'm stepping out on a limb here in terms of subject matter. It's not physics related, only tangentially science related, completely gaming related and somewhat personal. But it matters to me and raises some interesting social questions about just how much entertainment we should entertain.

I want to make something.
Specifically, I have the urge to develop a virtual world. Something visually non-complex that exists both for users that log in to interact and for the entities that are permanently contained inside. I describe it as an urge because that's exactly what it is; A nigh uncontrollable drive to create something that exists and interacts in itself.

I've been thinking about it for a while, actually. I can say with confidence that it's derived from years ago when I was playing one of the early online multiplayer games. It was an actual drive to play that particular game for a while and after I had given in and then quit two or three times I finally realized that I didn't really approve of myself playing these types of games at all. They rewarded endless time-wasting on tasks that were simply not fun with virtual riches and notoriety. In that way I decided that the benefits did not outweigh the time spent and I would never play another game that was in the same form.

It's not as though the urge to play this game just went away at this point and when it would return I started breaking it down and trying to figure out what was so compelling about this game and what I felt I needed from it. To this day when I drive past endless rolling hills I think about this game and running from one place to another to pick up one thing or drop off another, it really is that deeply stamped in my memory. But that particular feeling was one of freedom, exploration and open-ended adventure and for some reason this game, this virtual game provided these things in bulk.

It wasn't until a couple years later that I decided to put that feeling to other use. If I couldn't participate in false reality exploration, I could at least create a convincing false reality for others to explore in. I wanted others to feel the same drive to explore because there was something out there for them to discover. This is where things got complicated for me. I'm not completely sure I want to burden other people with this feeling of exploration that I've tried so hard to get away from. I'd say it's a false hope to believe that you might one day stumble upon something that effects everyone in your reality (or perhaps that's simply why I'm interested in physics) but it's completely viable in an alternate reality (i.e. game) where you're one of only a couple hundred thousand people and new places and items are added monthly.

I mentioned earlier that I ditched the game because I felt that the time spent outweighed the benefits gained. This is the real problem I had with the game. It didn't bother me that I was interacting with people in an alternate world, that was completely acceptable, but that I wasn't gaining anything from it and to compete in the only way the game let you compete you had to put a great deal of time into it.

The culmination of all this is that I want to make something (whereas something is defined as an interactive experience that closely resembles a online multiplayer game) and that something traverses the space where you can explore and discover new things in the game but also doesn't require you to worry about falling behind or being left out if you don't want to play today. I'm not sure what to call it yet. It's new and different.

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