MMORPG: An Addict’s Diary

Return to Eorzea

You’re at work. You want to do your job, but all you can think about is how many hours until you can return to the game, and how many hours in the game you have until the next real world task is set to tear you from the online world. If this is familiar to you then like me you are probably a Massive-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing Game addict. To an outsider this addiction must seem bizarre and possibly even insane, but to a gamer this addiction isn’t a game – it’s a life.

This is a life where a giant fucking chicken can be your car, and you carve your legacy with a blade through quests on maps that take real world beauty and exaggerate it to create a new realm. A life where crafting items to use or sell to other inhabitants of the world is a complement to adventuring, and not something you have to show up to everyday. A life where having lots of friends means you have a group to storm a dungeon and dispatch monsters too tough to take on by yourself. This is what draws a video game addict to MMORPG addiction; a life better than the close to minimum wage drudgery of taking orders and paying for buses or taxis because a real world mount (or car) is just not something you will ever be able to afford. It’s all at the tips of your fingers as long as you have the imagination to make it real.

The old forest near Gridania

The old forest near Gridania

This writer recently plunged into the realm of Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, for the first time (other than a promotional week) since the realm was reborn and my level 50 avatar was reduced to goddamned noob levels. It is my intention to share my follies with balancing the real and game world, hand out helpful tips and lessons, and to share my thoughts on the state of the online realm I have chosen to inhabit.

Compared to the original release which was devoid of quests, had a tunnel system for a forest map and used obvious replicated scenery everywhere, A Realm Reborn certainly lives up to the hype the original promised. It is difficult sometimes, bumbling around in a world with familiar cities yet vastly different landscapes. That said, every aesthetic change is an improvement even if I am checking the map often. Running a dungeon anywhere may be as easy as clicking a button, but going into a random group can be perilous especially if you are new to your group combat job and run in with an unforgiving bunch.

When first entering the character creation screen I was reminded that the Miqo’te race had been expanded to include the male species, so with my fantasies about reproduction for this cat like race stomped out, the decision was made to go with a male and put aside the lie that was Seven Ofnine. Jaroki Tapo has taken her place exploring the new realm, but neither are fond of wearing their clothes in the city (maybe we’ll deal with that in a later entry). A main class change from pugilist to gladiator was also in order although thanks to being able to switch to any other class at any time a nice pair of claws isn’t out of the question.

The New Gridanian forest

The New Gridanian forest, this Miqo’te approves.

A few nights back, while helping secure the trust of some dancing fairies in the forest of Gridania (now featuring an actual forest), a very strange thing happened. A glare on the television screen interrupted my view and for one terrifying moment I thought the sun had either gone nova or the nukes had finally gone off. The glare was from the sun, but it was no longer 1am but 7am, and work was going to happen soon. Despite the real time clock at the top of the screen what had felt like two hours of questing was actually six. Still at some part of the back of mind was the question: Does in game fishing count as sleeping?

As exciting as living a digital life with a sword in hand, riding about slashing monsters and beasts is, sadly it is not reality. One must play carefully to avoid being sucked in too far at the wrong time. It does no good to lose eight hours of your life without realizing it an hour before your shift or other real world pains in the ass.

If you’re doing a session in the virtual world before tackling the day in the real world, don’t take on too much. Use that time before work or other duties for a quick crafting session. Do your errands in town, spend a couple hours cutting trees/mining/fishing (or whatever your game offers for gathering) instead of losing track of time in some dungeon or doing that main storyline quest that is sure to take you from one end of the realm to the other and back again. Wait until after the real world day is done to start up the big quests and dungeons. We all know sleep can be put off, minimalized and shortened or else having a second life just wouldn’t work. That’s what caffeine is for, isn’t it?

Always remember that as exciting as it is to start a new life in a virtual world, it’s not fucking reality. Reality is a cruel bitch and time will keep on moving in the real world as your MMORPG adventure unfolds. Be wary. Remember, in-game food isn’t real food and unless you want to end up like a Chinese kid in an Internet café, learn the difference. Showering never hurt either.

Just as the virtual sun will always rise, this topic will continue but in the meantime there’s only 3.15 hours until departure for work for approximately 7 hours, with another 30-45 minutes until home, leaving about 4-5 hours of game time before sleep. The quest log is getting full, better get fishing…and maybe have a shower.

Eat. Game. Fish.

Eat. Game. Fish.

About Patrick Fenton (40 Articles)
Mohawk College graduate in Journalism. Movieaholic with an insatiable thirst for those elusive good science fiction movies. If I can get my lazy bones off the couch, it's to go skiing.