Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Games People Play

A little over a year ago, someone teased me about not playing any computer games... teased me just enough that I decided to master one. And so I randomly clicked the first game link that came up in facebook. It was for a medieval war game called Evony. And so I began to make cities and build troops and wage war with thousands of people from all over the world.

I know... many folks see me as much more Barbie than GI Joe but there was something curiously satisfying about coming home after a lousy work day and killing something. Besides, you never know when knowledge of ballistae and pike and catapults will come in handy in knocking down someone's city walls. Not likely that I'll ever need to know... but not beyond the distant realm of all possibility I guess. And I met some really great people along the way including a surgeon from British Columbia, a counselor of troubled youth in Sweden, a University lecturer who also runs an animal shelter in Latvia, a battered wife from Missouri who finally found the courage to leave, and a hormone-driven English schoolboy to name just a few.

I also met some not so nice people. And some who were so deep into the game that real life almost ceased to exist. They were miserable people who could only keep up the facade of normalcy for so long and then the dark side of their personality surfaced in underhanded devious plots and schemes that still leave me feeling shock and dismay.

In Evony, you can assemble teams known as alliances. An alliance can have up to 100 players in it and the point is to share game knowledge, help with resources needed to build cities and troops, attack enemy alliances and most of all... socialize. Kick it up one notch toward the evil and you find enemy alliances planting spies to gain knowledge of your battle plans so they can foil them. Another notch and you have friendly alliances planting spies and sometimes manipulating information to make their alliance declare war and attack. In many ways the game is a study in psychological warfare.

Very recently I was involved in a situation that trumps everything I have experienced in human indecency. The host of my just prior alliance handed his account to a high ranking player in our arch-enemy alliance... Or so that was the first indication. Then it looked like this hand over took place more than 8 weeks ago. Now it's looking like they were the same person all along and possibly the one sharing spy intelligence with a friendly alliance who suddenly became not so friendly. The resulting war and fall of that prior alliance came like two hard kicks in the gut to many. Some quit playing, some have moved on to the arch-enemy alliance, others have moved elsewhere. And this is all supposed to be okay because it's part of the game?

I think it is a very definition of insanity. And right now I'm in a state of kind of suspended animation... do I keep playing or do I seek revenge or do I quit and walk away?

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