Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I'm a Player and I'm Proud

I chaired a meeting today for the first time and, sitting at the table and looking around at their expectant faces, I couldn't help but feel: I'm totally not qualified to do this.

I mean, I am - I suppose. Its all on paper, I've got the qualifications and letters after my name (William Knight MA (hons) - in case you're wondering *breathes on nails, shines on shirt*); but I can't help but feel that in any real world situation I'm just kinda loafing it. It's a feeling I've discussed with several people and I've discovered that this is a fairly universal quality in normal people. You're confident, but not arrogant, firm but fair and give off an air that you've got it all under control. But just under the surface you've always got the sneaking suspicion that at some point someone is going to turn to you and go:

"You there! Yes... you! You have absolutely no idea what you are doing!"

And you'll fall to your knees and concede its all been an elaborate ruse, you are in fact, just a dude, and you still play video games and role play online, you aren't qualified to take blood, arrange mergers, save lives or negotiate divorce settlements, in fact you're barely capable of dressing yourself in the morning without doing that thing with your trousers (one leg in, OK - here's the next leg - ready? ready? GO! NO, don't get it caught on the crotch, steady yourself, steady!... oh look, you've fallen onto the bed).

There is a point to this post, I promise. I'm getting to it. There's just some fluff I need to move out of the way first.

The only area I don't get this crushing feeling of inadequacy is whilst I'm gaming.

I know that if I stick the Black Ops disc in my Playstation I have a damn good chance of getting into a game and completely dominating the opposition. I feel I can run into a crowd and unleash hell, dodge bullets, flash enemies and completely humiliate them. I've had my fair share of poor games, been beaten any number of times and I've come through the other end.

Similarly, if I enter a Jade Quarry battle in Guild Wars I can be pretty sure I can hold down the green quarry versus 2 or 3 caster opponents - I can reliably interrupt 3/4 cast time spells and out-kite any melee. I know that if I go onto GWguru I can answer most of the questions people might have, and I can give damned good advice. I've been playing pretty solidly for 5 years and I can, without hesitation, say that I am a Guild Wars expert.

If I get beaten, I'm more than willing to accept the consequences and acknowledge I lost to a superior player. It isn't arrogance, it's the result of hard work and a love of gaming.

Over the past few days I've been dipping in and out of J McGonigal's "Reality is Broken". So far, McGonigal has blown me away with the enthusiasm she conveys through the book. One of the most important messages she is trying to convey is that the strategies and methods we employ in gaming should be useful in every day life, and if they were, then the real world would be a far more compelling place.
By supplanting gaming mechanisms into every day life we could wash away the feeling that we are loafing our way to the top - always ignoring the dread that some day someone will realise what idiots we really are. If we can harness the enormous effort each one of us put into getting that next title, or finally farming that rare skin and channel it into real world problems - the world could be changed dramatically.

ps. I'm thoroughly enjoying Reality is Broken so far, and I suggest, if you're interested in video games, ARGs and gaming in general, that you give it a go. I'll be writing up a full article once I've finished the book. There are some really exciting ideas in this book.

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