Method Gamers

Method Gamers
Diseased Cur

Joe Blancato | 31 Jan 2006 07:06
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I've never been much for roleplaying. Well, let me rephrase that: I've never been much for playing the roles assigned to me. When I was a kid playing cops and robbers, I was the dirty cop who'd shoot his backup and make off with the loot. School was worse; assignments became mere suggestions, springboards for better ideas to make projects entertaining, rather than informative. Trace my gaming career back far enough, and you'll find I've always performed a bit outside any conventional game's scope. If I wasn't trying repeatedly to injure opponents in Madden, I was careening around a virtual racetrack in reverse, trying to knock my friends out of the race.

When games went massive, my world exploded. Suddenly, rather than having to completely abandon a game's objective in order to have a good time, I could create my own fun however I liked. The "RP" in MMORPG (long-since abandoned by cynics and twice-bitten game designers) gave me carte blanche to blaze my own trail, tell a story of my own. If I tried hard enough, I could even leave a ripple in the world.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out. You see, I've always had trouble with in-game lore: It all reads like derivative fantasy schlock. There's a chosen one or two, maybe some slaves, a virtuous hero with a tendency to speak in passive voice, and some evil force ultimately up to thousands of players to defeat, despite the fact everything re-spawns five minutes after you kill it. I wasn't interested in being a part of that schlock. So any sort of conventional roleplaying just wouldn't do.

My misadventures began in Ultima Online where I quickly became a career murderer. I wasn't a griefer; I was just a victim of circumstance, time and time again. UO's combat system was a bit wonky: If you attacked and killed an "innocent," you would be labeled a murderer, barring you from entering towns and leaving you freely attackable by other players. It makes sense in theory, but a lot of jerks hid behind that flag of innocence. Let's just say, for instance, you had a bad habit of attacking and killing jerks before they attacked you. Then, let's say you managed to do this around 500 times. Well, I went through enough jerks to ensure I'd never see the inside of a city again.

My house was located just north of Britain, one of the game's larger cities, right near the Chaos shrine, one of the only static sites to allow murderers to resurrect. This was prime real estate for people in my situation, and other murderers gravitated to the area. However, with so many murderers in one area, bounty hunters were always circling the area like great white sharks around an Australian coral reef. These guys, "innocents" only because they were far more selective in how they killed other players, quickly became a problem for our small community of murderers, just trying to, well, exist in peace.

The way things were, it was unbearable. Troupes of bounty hunters would roll through the area, taking out solitary murderers just trying to mine or smith or hone their skills. I would have to sneak around my own house if I wanted to get anything done. I would watch as neighbors were senselessly cut down in a nearby alleyway. A community of hunters had become the hunted - and that just was not acceptable.

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