A while back I was pondering various story arcs for my upcoming NaNo project. I had a couple of characters and a basic premise, but wasn't sure exactly where to take them*.
At one point I decided my main character, a middle aged woman**, would be intrigued by the Mr. T Night Elf Mohawk commercials and get sucked into playing World of Warcraft. That would be cool because it would distract her from her goal and seriously upset the other character.
(Not that Mr. B and I have any personal experience with that sort of thing. Nope, none whatsoever.)
In the name of research, I thought I should install the free trial of WoW so I could document the experience of a noob with authority. Mr. B was completely supportive and very generously offered to help, but we had to wait for a couple of nights when Young Son was not around since there is not enough Nickelodeon in the world to distract a ten year old boy from those sorts of graphics. They can smell them, you know. So on a non-Young-Son weekend, with Mr. B at my side, I downloaded and installed the game and went about setting up a character.
It was pretty fun, especially with Mr. B there to fill me in on the important details as I stumbled along. See, even though I fly my geek flag with pride, I never got into the whole role playing game thing because of my pesky short attention span. Wasting time thrashing around trying to figure things out is just way too frustrating. Don't sit there watching me flail, just tell me how to freaking do it already! But with the assistance of my highly experienced guide, it was a downright pleasant experience.
Even with Mr. B acting as my personal cheat code, I noticed warning signs early on, as soon as my character took to the streets... er, forests. I had to approach people with exclamation points over their head, and they would tell me a little story then task me with collecting a million venom sacs or sparkly flowers or pelts, which I would have to run around and deliver to characters with questions marks over their heads, who would invariably give me another list of stuff to find. Once I figured out how to walk and turn around, it seemed a little repetitive.
Sure, there was some sweet swag to be had - I was especially thrilled when I got some rad chain mail pants, only to discover I couldn't wear metal - and looting the corpses of the spiders and wildcats was entertaining, but around day three when I found myself running up the same damned ramp to the top floor of the same damned treehouse to hand over some venom sacs, only to be told I had to run to the next village and deliver some other shit there, well, I hit the wall.
That's when it all became clear. I realized the game consisted mainly of doing fucking chores, and as a veteran mom, wife, and general admin chief of the household, the last thing I want to do in my spare time is play a game that consists of being tasked with a never-ending shopping list, even if I do get to slay various creatures with spells and swords and look exceptionally fabulous doing so. It was a tough call, though; my boobs and thighs were incredible.
Mr. B tried to explain that as one progressed in the game, the errand-running quotient decreased, hunt-and-fetch being replaced by more complicated, interesting problems to solve.
Ummmm, no thanks. I have plenty of complicated, interesting problems to solve.
And that was the end of that. From that night on, my Night Elf (or whatever the hell I was) languished, untouched. The free trial expired. My NaNo character had to settle for an addiction to romance novels.
As for games, screw the MMOPRGs. Just leave me to my Freecell and Spider Solitaire and I'll be happy. I'll just have to make do with my own boobs and thighs.
* Despite the past tense, three weeks in that's still pretty much the case.
** OK, so I write what I know. Sue me.