October 05, 2010

Death throes of a once great and mighty giant

I found this short, sad article on the PlayNC website today:
On October 5, 2010, all of the Lineage II servers will be merged. The eight existing servers will become two servers, one based in North America and one based in Europe.

•Aria, Bartz, Devianne, Phoenix and Sayha will merge and become Chronos (NA).

•Franz, Luna and Teon will merge and become Naia (EU).

I first encountered Lineage II at the 2003 Tokyo Game Show. I have written many posts about my experiences with Lineage II. Here are a few of them:

Play the Game, Don't Work It!
Nightfall, Crossdressing, and Genderbending
Normal People Have Real Lives
Meditations on the Day
Ruminitions and Ruminations
Little People with Big Agendas
Back in Action
Meditating on a Migraine

If you go back and read through the posts linked above you will find that even in games I have spent endless hours fighting against elitism, hypocrisy, and presumption. Lineage II is dying. Any game that merges eight servers into two with litte or no warning has reached a point of no return. No online game in history has ever recovered from such a loss of available ingame real estate. The same thing is driving people away from Lineage II that drove them away from Ultima Online, away from Tabula Rasa, and away from dozens, possibly hundreds of other games: arrogance and the sadism it encourages.

Games are competitive by design. Naturally Gamers are also competitive. Competition is what makes games, games. However, the true heart of what makes games enjoyable is something the real world lacks, namely, a sense of fair play. In a game, everyone competes on the basis of a fixed set of rules that are specifically designed to insure skill becomes the deciding factor in determining who wins and who loses. Games also allow a safe environment for wanton, liberal experimentation with situations that in the real world are fraught with peril. This is why so very many games are based in fantasy worlds of swords, sorcery, monsters, and dragons. Even if these things did exist, they would be far too dangerous for anyone without years of specialized training, and even then, many would die or suffer grievous bodily harm. Such a world would not be fun for ordinary people to live in.

Unfortunately, a fair percentage of human beings are not nice people. Whether genetics, upbringing, culture, or some other variable determines both who is nice and how it is defined is something I will deal with on another day. Today I want to focus on extreme gamers, the legendary "hardcore" gamers, especially those who feel their superior hardware or superior tactile dexterity entitle them to demean other players and destroy their ingame experience. There are far too many hardcore gamers who gain their pleasure not from succeeding within the rules of the game, but from bending those rules in ways that allow them to dominate and oppress other players.

That this group exists is something no one denies, not even those who belong to this group. That this group is terribly destructive of a game community is something that gets repeatedly pointed out, but unfortunately, sometimes there are people in positions of influence who not only sympathize with sadistic elitists, they idolize them. Many of the top people in the design and management team for Lineage II began their gaming experience playing Ultima Online. Many of them were banned or blocked from playing because of their ingame behavior. As a result, many of them pay lip service to "casual players" while doing everything in their power to discourage casual players from staying in Lineage II. For example, many management decisions which are ostensibly aimed at eliminating the seconadary market actually accomplish just the opposite. By design, and what appears to be deliberate intent, these mangers seek out and eliminate only those secondary market participants who challenge or threaten the players and guilds they favor. The management team encourages and indirectly aids the ingame experience of the worst behaved players because when they were players, this was their preferred playstyle. In their minds, casual players are insane, deluded, naive, and foolish. To them, the only purpose of a game is domination, complete domination. It is the only type of gameplay they enjoyed, and the only type they encourage.

Over time, even if they love the game they are playing, anyone who does not subscribe to the complete domination gameplay model is forced out of the game. They are stalked, harassed, repeatedly attacked by groups of players who are not only higher levels and better equipped, they outnumber the besieged casual player by at least three to one, and often by ten, fifteen, or twenty to one. Any casual player who objects to this treatment is told they must either join the sadists or find a different game.

Does this sound familiar? Have you noticed any similarities between the group of players I am describing and the problems that are destroying Western civilization? You should, because the same priority system that drives liberal progressivism and radical Islam is driving these players. The assumption of any individual that they alone possess the right, proper, correct view of life while any who disagree are ignorant, insane, or deluded is the core of everything that is wrong with the modern world. That such people run in packs should not come as a surprise. Was not the theme of the October 2nd rally "One Nation"? It is the same theme shared by the most sadistic, domineering Lineage II guilds as well as those members of the Lineage II management team who encourage these guilds. In the minds of such people, whether they are gamers, game managers, business managers, or politicians, there are only two kinds of people in the world: the smart, "enlightened" ones who agree with them, and those who do not deserve to share their world.