Ready Player One: Real Life Sucks

Yesterday I read Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. Only yesterday, because I finished it in one day. It’s one of THOSE kind of books, the kind that even though you know you should put it down for a minute to cook some dinner, or do some laundry, or whatever sort of boring minutiae that life has to offer, you simply…can’t. It takes you out of your world and puts you in another one, very much what the book is all about. As a younger child of the 80’s, and an all-around geek and gamer, I instantly appreciated the care that Cline takes to reference so many beloved classics, some of my personal favorites, and others that I vaguely knew about but have piqued my interest. I couldn’t wait to see what movie or song or game was going to pop up next. Add in that most of the book takes place in the future of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), where the game is actually a way of life, THE way of life, and you have a great cocktail that any geek should gulp down in a heartbeat.

After finishing my book, I decided I had spent enough time offline, and jumped onto WoW. I immediately realized how hyper-sensitive I was to that online environment now, how much I really used WoW (and other games, and books, and movies, etc.) as escape and solace. Because, as one of my guildies put it so succinctly:

“Real life sucks.”

Yeah, sometimes it does. You worry about money, or your living situation, or your job, or your family, or your other half, or your kids, or the world in general, and it can add up. I see myself coming home after a long day at work, exhausted, thinking about the next day and the next and the future, and immediately I want to plug in. That’s what Team Ultra does.  We come home, we unload the weight of the world off our backs, and we plug in. Of course we have our priorities. I’ve never missed work or important events just to game. I’ve never been in a dire monetary situation because of gaming. The most harm it has done me is occasional lack of sleep. We don’t let the game take over our lives, or think we live BETTER lives in our game…but do we?

My avatar in WoW, I should say my latest one, is almost at the top of her game (I don’t raid, so I’m not THAT cool). She’s got some awesome outfits, state-of-the-art gear, and many sweet rides. She’s got more money on her than I have in my bank account on a regular basis. She can create epic and special things that are in high demand. She associates with a group of people that go out and have regular adventures. My avatar can do things that I can never hope to do (mainly because they don’t exist in our reality).  And death isn’t even permanent! Is that kind of world…a better world than ours right now? Many people think so. But…most people, myself included, have the wherewithal to realize that the digital world is not a REAL world. It is a story. Just like good movie, or a book, or even a great piece of music. It gives you the idea of possibility. And isn’t that really, all we want in THIS world?

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2 Comments

  1. Are you gonna attempt the puzzles?
    http://boingboing.net/2012/06/05/gweek-054-win-a-delorean.html

    • I don’t profess to know nearly a sixteenth I would probably need to know to attempt this. But kudos to those that do! I think what hurts me the most is being more of the Nintendo generation than the arcade/Atari one. Though I can play a mean game of Crystal Castles!

      You should try. Then we can go for a joyride…TO THE FUTURE!


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