Games

Massive Nostalgia Vol. 167: Downtime

This post is part of a series of everyday posts for Blaugust. If you’d like to know more, click here.


Since I deleted most of my old content, I am starting in media res with my volume numbering here. You have not missed volumes 1-166.

I remember in the third grade (ages 8-9 for non-Americans), we had a pen pal project. Now, I recall nothing about whom my pen pal was nor do I have any way of proving that a small southern town had contacts anywhere abroad, but these are the truths my mind has decided are facts.

I do recall it being a profound experience to realize that I could send a letter across the world and receive something back in a relatively short time. It was a moment that simultaneously made the world smaller and larger for my impressionable mind.

Similarly, I remember playing Ultima Online a few years later and marveling at how I could play with people all over the world inside a video game. Of course, with Ultima Online, you had to meet in person in-game to speak since there were no /tell or /whisper commands. There was a magic in-game telephone but it was rarely convenient.

Playing MMOs in the last several years and especially World of Warcraft in the last several weeks, I miss having the downtime to just talk to strangers. Sure, it caused me anxiety to talk to people online and not everyone was nice or worth talking to, but I made some really cool in-game friends that way.

Like pen pals and mailing letters, the notion of downtime itself seems quaint. Why force players to wait? Why give them nothing more to do than to talk to one another anymore? Instead, give them queues and quests and quick generating resources and graveyards with minimal walking and the list goes on.

It is probably for the better that we have less downtime. I don’t have to wait for a rarespawn to pop or waste most of my free time finding a group. Still, I miss the slower pace and the thought/time I could put into just occupying a digital space with others. I miss being amazed that my handwriting and my little piece of paper could make it around the world and back again too.

I refuse to say things were better or that we need to go back. That’s just an old man (in MMORPG years, at least) yelling about the good ole days.

But like so many old men, I am allowed to miss my youth where things were better and wish I could go back to those days one more time.

Sometimes it is easier to embrace the contradictions in life rather than choose between something you feel is objectively true and something you feel is subjectively true.

Let me grab a cane …

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