Dagdha's Blog

Random Ruminations #6

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on October 19, 2012

Damn. It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything original – nearly two if you don’t count my typical religio-political rants, which I’ve been trying to avoid (an extremely difficult task considering my voracious consumption of prose by Christopher Hitchens recently). I think the volatile combination of eloquent, radical literature with an overabundance of inane election ‘news’ has created a toxic depression – all the more highlighted by a recent escape to the mountains of Idyllwild.

I hate election years for the same reason I hate professional sports – everyone wants to share his or her overzealous opinion detailing which team is better and citing uncontextualized statistics as evidence. Even more annoying is when these same individuals count positive poll shifts for candidates they support as personal wins. Citing populist opinion founded on regurgitated mob-think is not polemical, it’s illusory democracy. I admit that I’m guilty of the same shameful tactics when unwillingly drawn into a debate, though it is usually with individuals who prefer to atrophy  their minds with social media rather than invest the time to read a book that challenges their views.

Up in the mountains, away from mainstream media, the internet, and forced acquaintances, things felt more peaceful. I felt connected with the world, not separate from a system beyond my influence or control. The mental noise disappeared, allowing for moments of quiet serenity, and I realized that my lack of inspiration is largely the result of a disconnect from nature, especially as global politics descend into unknown depths of dissonance and create an overwhelming sense of futility. As much as I hate being out of the loop, there’s little point if I don’t have the money and connections to hula.

Another reason for my lack of literary productivity in the last month or so is the newest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.  When I started playing WoW eight years ago, I could not have imagined that I’d still be playing. But, as with every expansion, I find myself again engrossed in the lands and lore of Azeroth (now with loveable pandas). With an emphasis on content for casual players, I feel like the game has grown with me, as I age and take on ever more responsibility, and I cannot commend Blizzard and their staff enough.  I am a huge Warcraft fan boy and I have absolutely no qualms in admitting so. WoW has continually set the standard for MMO gaming, and, as I have often argued, the gaming medium as a form of high Art.  Despite my recent gaming relapse, however, I could easily make the argument that Blizzard has significantly reduced my time spent gaming.

When I was five, my parents bought my brother and me a Nintendo Entertainment System as a way to keep us busy during our summer break from kindergarten. Our younger brother was just six months old at the time, and Mario became our virtual babysitter while mom took care of the newborn.  From that point forward, our childhood was largely consumed by countless hours of peon massacres, boss battles, and virtual go-kart races. My parents have claimed many times since that this was one of their biggest mistakes, but it’s had many unintended consequences, like my interest and subsequent career in computers.

I was fourteen when I discovered Starcraft, Blizzard’s sci-fi RTS franchise, and I spent the entire summer of 2000 working in a print shop to afford a basic eMachines computer that could run the game.  Ironically, I quickly lost interest in the game and shifted my attention to operating systems and computers in general. Gaming became secondary.  I was fascinated by the wealth of knowledge I could access online, and my curiosity was fueled with fantasies of hacktivism inspired by movies like the Matrix and Hackers.  This continued until college where I joined as a freshman in Information and Computer Science. I quickly learned that I was not suited for the tedium of computer programming, but I continued working as a technician and playing video games.

World of Warcraft came out during my first term as a sophomore, and I remember fondly the first time I logged into my friend’s beta account and explored the realm of Teldrassil.  I already loved Warcraft 3, but nothing in that predecessor could have prepared me for the (literally) jaw-dropping experience of walking into the capital city of Darnassus with its entrance flanked by Ancients of War.  If my predisposition to console gaming wasn’t completely dead at that point, the release of WoW was definitely a nail in the coffin.

After it’s original release, I spent every free moment leveling my characters, suffering through the arduous task of hitting 40 so I could spend all my gold on a mount. At one point I played for 60 hour straight, stopping only after I fell asleep at the keyboard and died in the jaws of Swamp of Sorrows crockolisks.

Eventually I began to cut back, forsaking my unholy raid schedule, and ultimately unsubscribing for months at a time.  I still play when new content is released, and it’s been a phenomenal way to keep in touch with my younger brothers as we distance with age, but I’ll often go months at a time without playing any video games.  With a few exceptions, I shy away from most games now, preferring to invest my time in more fulfilling pursuits. I continue to play WoW because I can escape for an hour or two without learning new play styles or strategies, and I can easily foresee a permanent gaming cessation when the franchise finally ends, but I’ll enjoy the hell out of it while it lasts.

So that’s what’s up.  Another day, another wall of text. I aim to write a bit more in the coming weeks and hopefully with more structure.  At the moment though, I’m off to kill some pandas.

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