Thursday, August 18, 2005

Play and playfullness

Agirra is still running around in WOW, Mainly in Kalimdor. Her territories of movement and play are slowly expanding, now she is manouvering with a fair amount of expertice in the orc core areas of Durotar and The Barrens, as well as Mulgore, Thousand Needles and Ashenvale, with occasional trip to Booty Bay and Undercity with Silverpine Forest. The game is created to invite this kind of expansion and exploration, but it does not force it.

What I have been looking for in these explorations is however role-play. There is some playing going on when people group for quests and instances, but more often than not it is groupings out of necessity, not play. The conversation tends to be messages like "heal me" "ress please" "g" "n" "yay!" - not a lot of depth to that. A lot of the role-play happens in the clans or guilds, if you are not in a guild, you are isolated. Hence I have been looking for a guild.

The guild I was hoping to get into was The Onyx Ascendancy. I met the guild leader early on, in a lower-level character, and role-played and had fun. Afterwards we kept chatting, and I started looking out for members of the guild, to have a chance to play with them and be recommended. I have not had much luck with that, when I see people from that clan they are always on the way somewhere else, focused on some grand plan or other probably. And there's the lowbie effect: if your character is beyond level 50, you don't really see the ones below 40. And the people I have seen from the Onyx Ascendancy have all been way up there in the level range. The leader mentioned that as well, with a touch of frustration, searching for a clan member to group me with in order to arrange some role-play; it was impossible to find anybody online in my level range.

But there are other guilds, and while I'd have loved to play in the guild of one of the truly nice people I have met on that server, there are plenty other nice folks around. Some of them have a silly streak a mile wide, and can play with it. So when Agirra was magically turned into a pirat wench for an hour (how absurd is that?), it ended up in a fun round of RP and some friendly sparring (because orcs just don't do that to other orcs and expect to get away with it - Agirra had to kick his ass).

I had almost forgotten the frivolity of games, the liberty to be dramatic, flamboyant and playful, in all this theory and research. But that is such an important part of what I like about it, so when Agirra was invited to join "Legion of Darkness", run by two Swedish students, she and I happily jumped in. This is a guild filled with lowbies - Agirra is the second highest level character at present - small, and with no particularly clear plan for what the guild is about yet. But the players I have met have been very accessible, nice and most of all, playful: able to do the kind of improvised mental sparring and leaps of fancy which takes role-play from pompous posing to entertaining interaction. So for a week Agirra is a peon, reporting to the same warrior who made her into a human. We'll see how that works out, indeed we will!

Of other interesting interaction experiments was playing with night elves of the Alliance. Following the motto "your enemy's enemy is your friend", Agirra raided a satyr village in the company of a night elf druid. This was particularly interesting as characters from different factions can't group, can't heal each other and can't even talk. We had to communicate through actions: nods, cheers, bows, as well as the acts of saving and attacking. It worked like a charm. We took turns attacking, and then the other followed up: this way both got experience points, and both had back-up. If one was attacked by several NPC's it was just a matter of jumping into the melee and pulling off as much of the agression as possible. We rested together, protected by Agirra's totems, then attacked when both were at full strength again.

Was this correct role-playing wise? Agirra can defend her actions through the logic of "greater evil". There is greater evil in the world than the Alliance. The corruption of nature, the destruction of the balance, madness, disease - it isn't all caused by the Alliance. And so for two both on the same quest to save the world from corruption and darkness to cooperate across the predefined lines is a matter of sanity and common sense. Perhaps what can one day heal the schisma and bring true peace?

My WOW playing son, a nightelf in his main character, demanded the name of the traitor, to track him down and kill him. Agirra's vision of world peace through cooperation may be long in coming true.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Fantastic reading, Torill!