Sunday, 3 January 2016

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

With the coming of a New Year the blogosphere, or this small corner of it, at least, is filled with the sound of wonder. Wondering what games we'll play. Wondering why we play games to begin with. Wondering whether we should play them at all. Wondering how we'll write or talk about what we play. Wondering what will happen to the games themselves.

I could link a dozen more speculative, ruminative, wondering end-of-year posts. As I write this, the blogroll to the right is filled with them, some exuberant and positive, others thoughtful or uncertain.

All of this leaves me feeling a little adrift from the mainstream. We don't celebrate New Year chez Bhagpuss. When midnight rolled around three days ago Mrs Bhagpuss was in bed and I was in the bath reading a book. I was at work on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day just like any other ordinary working day. The changing of the year passed me by as it always does.

As it has to be for everyone, there are a lot of things going on in my life that have little or nothing to do with gaming. Last year was more disruptive and awkward in a number of ways than any year has been for a while. This year has the potential to be even more so. That may impact my ability to play games, the choices I make in what games to play and how much I want to or am able to blog about either.

Life is just a series of photobombings

These things will be what they are. I'll deal with them as they come. The change of a number at the end of the date doesn't signify any substantive change beyond the numeral.

So, I won't be making any resolutions, in or out of gaming. I won't be laying down markers that I'll try to hit. I'm not even going to ponder the past or rake over the coals of the year that's gone.

Of all the New Year's posts so far the one I feel most affinity with is probably Azuriel's. Not the part about not playing "ok" games to conclusion. Since I pretty much only play MMOs playing anything to a conclusion is hardly an issue. No, it's the general feeling that life rolls on, stuff happens, things change and it's not that big a deal. And even when it is that big of a deal there's nothing much to be said or done about that.

When the date changes we all hope that we'll be able to look back and say with satisfaction, like Liore, that it was "finally the year when things really came together" but that suggests an ending. While we live there is no ending. Just more to come.

When it comes to gaming, which is what this blog is supposed to be about, I'll settle for more of the same in 2016. Heck, I'll more than settle. I'll grab the same with both hands.

And you shall know them by the trail of dead

I'm very, very happy with the state of MMO gaming at least as far as it provides for me. I thoroughly enjoy the MMOs I'm playing, I have a long and growing list of MMOs I'd like to play more - or at all. I approve of most of the trends in the genre, which seem to me to be evidence of the maturing and codifying of a kind of entertainment that will please and persist for longer than I'll live to enjoy it.

The future for those of us who love MMORPGs for what they offer that other genres of gaming and other forms of entertainment cannot has never looked brighter. MMOs were never the future of mass entertainment. They were never even the future of online gaming. The further that phantasmal prospect recedes the happier and more confident I feel.

MMOs are and need to be a specialist interest, a hobby, a pastime for a self-selecting group of off-trend individuals. Societal and technological developments are stripping away the clutter that weighed the genre down for a decade. No-one needs to log in to an MMO as quasi-proxy for a social life any more. We have Facebook and Twitter for that.

Get in. Let's ride.

The shape of the genre is, once again, showing through. Adventure, exploration, monsters, living vicariously in virtual worlds where meaningless activity feels strangely satisfying. That's why I came here in the first place.

When it comes to gaming, in 2016 I expect to carry on as I did in 2015. I hope that's what happens but I'm not counting on it. The future will be what it is. It will have its way with all of us, like it or not.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have dailies to do and airship parts to earn. As I always say, those ten rats won't kill themselves, now will they?

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