I came across an article by Deb Montague at Blizzard Watch, “If you could play an NPC class, what would it be, and how would it work?” That got me thinking about the game-life vs. real-life divide. Deb mentions a book that I’ve been reading too, “World of Warcraft and Philosophy,” that poses the question: what if you didn’t have to play a combatant – what if you could play a diplomat, for example, or a craftsperson?
I’ve thought about that a lot, although not so much about playing an NPC. I’d still want to be on the combat team, but I’d like to have the option to play a non-combat role. Even in war there’s usually someone trying to broker peace, or at least form alliances or exchange prisoners.
That’s the one thing I feel really awkward about when I’m talking with my non-gamer friends. We’re all dedicated pacifists, and war games aren’t usually my thing – with the exception of World of Warcraft. They all know I’m a gamer – I’m an evangelist about how important games are. It’s just that the names of the games I play rarely come up. That’s good, because too much information can lead to a situation like this:
…(discussion about what we do on a regular basis to keep ourselves grounded)… most of the responses are along the lines of: meditating every day, taking long walks in nature, meeting weekly with a faith group, journaling…. I could make something up, but I believe in saying what I mean, even when it’s awkward. “I keep myself grounded by playing World of Warcraft.”
There’s a long uncomfortable silence. I know it’s about the “war” part. It’s right there in the name – warcraft – and there’s no getting around it. I feel like I have to explain.
“I usually play a holy paladin. It’s not so much about waging war as it is about stopping oppression and championing the innocent and defenseless. It makes me feel grounded because it connects me on a deep level with the battle maidens and valkyries of my Viking ancestry.”
They still don’t quite get it, but it’s good enough. They’re not judgmental – just confused. Saying I play a diplomat would probably go over better. I can’t say I would always choose playing a diplomat over a paladin, though. I suspect then I’d be playing World of Peacecraft, and to be perfectly honest, that doesn’t sound like a game I’d go for – it just doesn’t get my heart racing the same way.