Tuesday, February 28, 2006

WoW and golf, again

Another interesting discussion over at Terra Nova, this time about if you can really learn something about the people you play with, and do you want to draw conclusions based on their gaming style?

I have drawn quick conclusions about people online, and quick conclusions about them offline. Which is worse, to decide I don't want to cooperate because they can't hold aggro, or because they can't raise their voice enough to hold attention?

On the other hand, I have come to deeper understanding of relationships through playing with the people in question. Where I have been blinded by contextual data in dealing with a person offline, making constant excuses for their inability to communicate, seeing the issue transplanted into a MMOG crystallises the problem in ways endless face-to-face conversations did not. Also playing with people I have felt I should like, but where contextual data have kept us both reserved - well, there's something about cooperating in a battleground which shows me if I like how the other person reacts under pressure, and cheering about a victory together is bonding indeed.

But then somebody throws the issue of class into the discussion:
My point is that golf is golf because a certain social strata says it is.
This is of course true. WoW will not be the new golf until it also is the new opera. When you can rub shoulders with only the other WoW afficinados who have the same sublime understanding of the art as you - or are willing to pay a LOT to pretend they do - WoW will be a low status activity. At the moment it rides on the wave of innovation: To not know about WoW is to be slow and out of touch with certain trends. Once WoW and other MMOGs are firmly mainstream there needs to be some kind of development, or those who see themselves as the opera audience will never start to play.

Does that bother me though? No, I am a scholar of pop culture and mass media. Seeing the stacks of Ibsen-studies in Norwegian Academia makes me slightly nauseous. I want to understand something new, the dirty massproduced mire of low art is exactly where I want to be. So here's to seeing the lawyers move back to golf, leaving the dirt to those who knows that a bit of grittiness enhances both flavour and texture.

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