Drugs as MMOs
by Tyler Edwards, Aug 15, 2012
A lot of people like to make comparisons between massively multiplayer games and drugs. Some do so to point what they view as serious video game addiction, while others are just being tongue in cheek. Even the players often joke about the withdrawals they feel if they don't get enough time to play. But what if MMOs really were drugs - or, perhaps, if drugs were MMOs? What kind of games would they make for what substance? What would be their main selling features, and where would they fail? Just for fun, we've decided to imagine what would happen if vices collided and addictive substances became addictive games.
Disclaimer: We do not condone nor advocate the use of drugs. Drug addiction is a terrible thing, but sometimes you just need to be able to see the humor in life.
The first thing you'll notice upon logging in to AO is that the graphics are a bit... unusual. Everything seems oddly blurred, and you can never seem to pick out any details. Yet the longer you play the game, the better it seems to look - especially the other avatars.
The next thing you'll notice is that the controls are ridiculously sloppy. No matter how much practice you get, you always seem to end up running into walls, getting caught on doors, and falling off of cliffs. This effect becomes much more pronounced once you acquire your first mount, and you will ultimately come to the conclusion you're better off just walking instead of crashing into things constantly.
The community is one of the most bizarre you've ever encountered. Half the players are nothing but obnoxious trolls, spewing insults to anyone and anything that cross their path - at least, you think they are, but it's hard to tell because their spelling is so bad they're almost impossible to understand. The other half spend all of their time telling you how much they love you, even if you've just met, and spamming friendly emotes like /hug and /kiss.
Despite AO's flaws, it gives you a warm and comforting feeling, and you keep coming back every now and again. When you have a lot of free time, you stay up to play through the night, waking the next day with a throbbing headache from the game's bizarre graphics and vertigo inducing controls.
Marijuana and Magic:
You join Marijuana and Magic because all your friends are playing it. It's a simple game with easy classes, little challenge, and a non-existent endgame, but the graphics are pretty, and there's something oddly relaxing about the mindless simplicity of it all.
MaM ultimately proves to be a pointless grind of a game. You mostly just run around and kill things at random. But yet, you find you keep coming back to it. The lack of any real challenge or peril is relaxing, and the easy going pointlessness of it all soothes you after a hard day.
The game also has a welcoming and extremely laid back community. Public chat channels are mostly filled with dumb but amusing jokes and oddball philosophical ramblings, both of which provide a welcome break from the usual trolls you see in other games.
MaM tends to lull you into an almost trance like state, leading to very long sessions. Going without food for so long leaves you voraciously hungry after playing.
World of Warcrack:
World of Warcrack is a game that bills itself as offering more action and intensity than other MMOs, and early on, it does. Even at level one, the abilities of every class are spectacular and devastating, and it only gets better as you progress through the starter quests. You feel like a god as you obliterate entire packs of mobs.
Your success leads to confidence - even cockiness. You charge into the second zone, ready to continue your epic crusade, only to be immediately mashed into the ground by the weakest of mobs. You discover that, while you are still incredibly overpowered, your enemies are even more overpowered.
You speak to other players for advice, and they present a harsh reality. There's a massive jump in difficulty between each zone, and the only ways to meet this challenge are to spend an absurd amount of time grinding in the previous zone or to buy powerful gear from the Warcrack cash shop.
Common sense says you should give up on this ridiculous grindfest of a game. But the memory of how fun it was early on still burns in your mind, and you must have more. You fork over the money for some better gear, and once again, you are a god among insects for a few hours of fevered gaming joy, only to crash again up reaching the next zone.
Your addiction worsens as you spend increasing amounts of money in the cash shop to keep playing. When you can't afford to, you spend hours grinding - so many hours that you begin to lose sleep, causing your productivity at work to suffer. Eventually, you lose your job, but it's okay, because you have your Warcrack to comfort you.
Things continue to spiral downward until you are featured on a primetime TV special about the evils of video game addiction. Counseling from Dr. Phil makes you realize how far you've slipped, and you move on to a less life destroying game.
Land of Savage Demons:
Land of Savage Demons, abbreviated as LSD by its fans, is a game known for its uniquely surreal art style based on vivid colors and landscapes that almost seem to come alive. These bizarre and ever shifting environments can make it easy to get lost, but it's all so pretty that most people don't care if they never get anything done because they're too busy staring at the floor.
LSD's main gameplay feature are dynamic events that hurl players into strange netherworlds. The players call these "trips." These trips are thrilling, and no two are the same, but they are also extremely difficult, and this can make them terrifying - especially for new players.
Because trips are very dangerous to tackle solo, LSD has developed a very friendly and tightly knit player community. Everyone just seems to want to play together in peace and love each other. None of the players seem to be able to get anything done - they mostly just wander around in search of the next trip. But this is a small price to pay for how friendly they all are.
There is no player versus player in LSD. Ganking would, like, harsh the buzz, man.
This is a game passed to you on a beat up CD by a friend. He assures you it's awesome, but you've never heard of it. You try to do some research before installing it, but it's not mentioned on any major gaming site. The official is site is down for "maintenance." Every time you check.
Still, your friend wouldn't lead you wrong, right? He keeps raving about BA, so you grudgingly insert the CD and begin installation. Patching takes longer than you'd expect, and your computer lists the game's verified publisher as, "Steak-knife Joe," but you press on.
Your CPU is making alarming noises, your desktop icons have rearranged themselves into psychedelic patterns, and you can't seem to turn off your caps lock, but it's too late to turn back now. You log in to Bath Assaults.
You are assaulted by spectacular light and sound - amazing cinematics, fantastic graphics and spectacular intro quests send your pulse racing. It's easily the best game you've ever played, and all of your doubts evaporate.
But then, after three hours of non-stop play, your computer crashes, and nothing you do can get it running again. Inspection by a technician the next day reveals that every single chip and processor has somehow spontaneously combusted. Cursing profusely, you order a new computer. Though it cost you hundreds of dollars, you still find yourself wishing you could play some more BA.
Two weeks later, several men in black suits appear at your door. The next thing you know, you're chained to a chair in an undisclosed location and being told that they've tracked several transmissions with national security implications to your deceased computer. Six weeks and three waterboardings later, you finally convince them it wasn't your fault.
You resolve to murder the friend who recommended the game, only to discover that he is now sharing a prison cell with a man named "Big Randy Bill." You no longer have any urge to play Bath Assaults.