Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When something changed

I'd been fishing for a few days since my reincarnation.

Aside from building up a few Imperial Standing points, I hadn't done much of anything else since I'd returned. I had a lot of excuses for this: not enough time, on too late, not enough money, not enough focus. A lot of those deficiencies were real, and still are, but somehow making excuses to myself seemed defeatist... in a really absurd way.

Why would I log on to convince myself of what I cannot do? What would be the purpose in that? I had a reason for playing, and I was trying to remember it.

In a sense, I'm still trying to remember it. An MMO continues to be such a strange thing for me. It definitely fills a gap in my activities, but it's one that I still can't manage to pin down or articulate.

So anyway, I fished.

I found that activity oddly more satisfying than the crafting labor afterward. Perhaps it was the simple interactivity of the fishing rod telegraphing my catch, or the sense that I was pulling pure profit out of the water. Or maybe it was the fact that it was subtly changing my attention, clarifying through idleness.

I noticed that I started pausing at sights. At statements. At people.

Something about listening to my friends talk and laugh while I gazed at the water, waiting for my next catch, made me feel like I was on vacation. It introduced something I hadn't felt in the game before, perhaps because it was obscured by my own worries and perpetual sense of fighting the clock, of imminent temporal bankruptcy.

I remembered the feeling of dozing on the beach and hearing the voices of my family over the roar of the surf, the sound of a small, intimate space briefly etched upon a gigantic landscape, something that made me feel vastly fortunate but equally insignificant.

Maybe this was why I had returned.

I realize many people delve into these worlds with the intention of attaining some sort of stature or significance however virtual or personal or simply fun, but I've realized that I dove into this particular one for almost the opposite reason.

I want to grow this character, and I want to explore. But perhaps because my personal life holds enough in the way of significant decisions and paths, or because I simply don't have the energy once I manage to enter Vana'diel, but whatever the reason: I don't care to aim for significance.

Or rather, I don't want to hold significance in the future, dangling in front of myself like a carrot on a stick. That's fundamentally disempowering and frustrating for me, specifically because of the limiting parameters that surround my play time.

I want to enjoy the game, and everything it entails as I play it, and I want to fully own the way I choose to play.

The cynical part of me thinks that this almost flies in the face of what most people consider to be an MMO player, but another part of me thinks this is simply the more honest way to go. I've come to discover it's one of the reasons why I entered this world from the very beginning.