Gaming for … pleasure?
As I am talking to a friend about her LoTRO experiences (her first mmo), I am nostalgic about my old EQ (and other mmo games that I have listed here more than once, so I won’t list them) days. So much of my research questions came out of those years/experiences, and value those times more than I can ever really express to anyone (without being institutionalized).
Since I embarked on my academic career, I have been increasingly hard pressed to find the time to dedictate myself wholly to playing mmorpg’s. Sure, researchers go in, play to level 20 and write about the gameworld. IOr interview high level players – or even play someone else’s high livel character … In many ways, this is similar to an anthropologist’s work where they go into a culture for 6 weeks, then go home and theorize about their experiences and interviews etc etc. And there is nothing wrong with that approach. But I don’t just want to visit an mmo – I want to live it. And with that, I have to be prepared to accept the face that a research question or idea may not arise from my new experiences. I am not sure how I feel about choosing a game, and going in with a set question – looking for answers that can be found within my experience combined with my corpus of literature… I know this is not a new rant for me, I just don’t know how to deal with it yet.
As a gamer-turned-academic sometimes I miss just being a gamer. It reminds me of a talk one of my past professors gave in a seminar – you know that you are a ‘real’ sociologist when you can no longer not think like a sociologist. When you can no longer turn off your informed, critical perspective in social situations etc. I feel like I have been hit with a double whammy – I am afraid I lost the ability to simply “PLAY” games as well as the ability to simply “BE” in a social situation. I admit – this is not discipline specific – I have heard people say that they did not study cinema because they wanted to be able to enjoy movies – same for art, literature etc.
So, as I sit here and enviously enjoy the enthusiasm of my friend, (re)living the great and tragic moments of mmo life vicariously through her, I wonder whether I should find a new mmo or go back to an old one – all I know is that I don’t want to be writing about my mmo experiences from 1999 – 2005 for the next 15 years.