October 15, 2004

Meditating on a migraine

This has been a very strange week for me. Well, half a week anyway. It all started on Wednesday. I left work early to go play Magic with some fellow expatriates, but as the clock was winding down I got caught up writing a post for the public forums at the official Lineage II website. A number of people who regularly post to the forums had said some things about both the game and the way it is played that for some reason, just really ticked me off. I don't normally get upset about this kind of thing, mostly I ignore it, so I don't know why it triggered such a strong reaction this time.

So I wrote this post pointing out that far too many people who play Lineage II have no respect for the sheer enormity of the technical accomplishment the game itself represents. Not only that, but they are so busy trying to "win" a game with no clear win/loss condition that they never really take the time to understand the mechanics of the game itself. They don't play the game at all, they work it, and then they complain that they aren't having any fun! What's worse, they complain the loudest when they can't use cheat codes, they get banned for running programs that let the game play itself, or when they get caught buying game data at online auctions and get permanently banned from ever playing the game again.

I started this blog because I got banned from a website.

The irony is not lost on me. Now, instead of being the object of a ban, I find myself defending company policies that lead to and enforce bans. I'd like to stand up and scream that the situations are entirely different, but in truth, they are exactly the same. I got banned from Stories.com because I found myself diametrically opposed to the philosophy used to manage the site. I support bans at Lineage II because the people being banned are diametrically opposed to the philosophy used to design and manage the game. I would like to be able to say I am always right and those who disagree with me are always wrong, but sadly, it is not that simple. In truth, that is the core of the problem.

At Stories.com the management believes there is an absolute right and wrong and they alone know the difference. If you agree, you are right. If you disagree, you are wrong. At Lineage II the management believes there is no absolute right and wrong, but there are playstyles that detract from the ingame experience of other players. Stepping back from the issue a startling fact emerges: most of people who are banned from playing Lineage II believe there is an absolute right and wrong, and they are right.

Comparing these two experiences disturbs me to no end. The world I move through (which may or may be the same one you experience) has become polarized between two groups of people: those who believe in absolutes, and those who do not. The thing that scares me the most is that I was raised to believe in absolutes, but as an adult I find myself consistently defending those who can find no absolutes. When I was young, I firmly believed there were absolute right and wrongs and any sane person could easily identify them. Now that I am middle-aged, I find myself walking through a world where nothing is absolute, and yet a war of anarchy is being fought between two groups of believers in absolutes who absolutely disagree with one another.

The end result is a pounding migraine headache complete with nausea over an issue I have absolutely no control over and absolutely no reason to be concerned about.

On days like today I really hate how deeply I think about things. It must be nice to be shallow. Stress-free living at its finest.