My wife is enjoying being in Australia. While video-games are my way of getting away from it all, her own outlet is sport. Running being her big thing. I’m not much into running, unless being pursued by a large dog, but it’s her release. We were chatting yesterday in the back garden about this, whilst sipping our gin and tonics. She didn’t enjoy running in Italy due to the fact that Italians aren’t into sport in a very big way. Not only could she never find anyone to run with, but she received a great deal of unwelcome attention while running. To me running seems like a solitary sport. But my wife prefers to run with people or even race. She loves the interaction, the feeling of competing against others, or of simply sharing the joy of running together. As she said last night, no matter how much we may not like it, we are social creatures.

Yesterday I also discovered a wonderful blog called, The CRPG Addict. The blogger is playing through every role playing game for the PC ever released. Already he has played through some titles which I myself lost a great deal of time on back when I should have been doing things like studying for school, or chasing girls. I loved those games, but they are all single player. And I realised while talking to my wife that I too need that interaction from my own outlet, which is gaming. The ability to share the process of gaming with other people who love it as much as you do.

Social has become a dirty word in the gaming world recently. But social has different meanings. It’s negative connotation has come about from social as someone who blindly follows the herd, having to survive in a pack to feel any sort of self worth. But social also means the act of social interaction. And if we are playing an MMO then that is exactly why we are playing it. That is the only thing that an MMO offers us that single player games do not. The ability to log on at any time of the day or night and immediately encounter other people playing the same game that you are. You can see them, you can talk to them. I remember the first time that I logged onto an MMO virtual world and another player walked past me, and I realised that I had just seen another person playing the same game that I was. It was mind blowing.

In the brief time that I spent in EvE I didn’t have a single interaction with another player. I saw other players in the distance in their little ships, but that was it. I could have spoken to them I suppose, but there was no reason to. In my first couple of years in WoW I spoke to other players all the time. I had to if I wanted to progress. The game forced me to be socially interactive. That isn’t the case anymore, and thus my interest in the game has waned. I am still waiting for my gaming rig to turn up so I cannot play any games requiring a decent system to play them at the moment. Perhaps I’ll go back and have a look at some of those old games that The CRPG Addict is going through. But one thing will be sure, I will miss that interaction.