| Thursday, February 10, 2011
WoW doesn't let us touch the exhibits. It's not so much theme park as mildly interactive museum of Warcraft history. This is a realistic thing, since for the most part we don't touch the real world either. We walk past everything and only touch that which has a specific function which we desire, ATMs and trash cans and computers, as scripted in their functionality as anything in a game. Maybe more so.

Children hop along and run their fingers along the walls. But adults who hang on to things are insecure, as if trying to anchor themselves. We stop touching the world except at the very specific points where we are supposed to. I follow the script for shoveling. I learned that it's much easier to not try my hardest, but instead to slowly, methodically, push lift throw, push lift throw. I follow the sidewalks.

I can't really say this is a bad thing. In Minecraft I blasted a gigantic hole in the ground with a whole lot of TNT. I don't think I'd much enjoy a world where everyone was doing that. I've noticed that I, and others, don't much like it when people interact too much with the trash cans. We prefer them upright, for their greater functionality as containers, even if they don't roll as well that way.

Maybe people want sandbox worlds because they don't feel like the real world has much sand. It's rather strange to me, this choice of sandbox. Sandboxes aren't all that great. Sand doesn't build up very high without water and even with water it's so fragile. That's depressing. It's dominated by gravity, with barely any internal forces to counteract the steady downward force. So there's not much to build. I prefer legos or lincoln logs. They can hold their own. And I can hold them. Pick them up and they won't turn into a small pile of sand in my hand.

Do not touch the exhibits. Flash photography is prohibited.


Fidjit said...

"Maybe people want sandbox worlds because they don't feel like the real world has much sand."

I think that's a rather poignant statement. Even recent games like Minecraft, Spore, or LittleBigPlanet show that there are people craving an outlet for their creativity. Did they have one before? Does the guy who makes amazing things in Minecraft make amazing things anywhere else? Virtually or physically?

It kind of makes you take a step back. Given that games that let players be creative are successful and produce wonderfully creative things, does that mean we should make more robust virtual sandboxes or do we need to put more "real" sand in the "real" world? Or both? (If there's any difference at all)

Tesh said...

For what it's worth, I love sandbox games, but I also do a lot of creative things out here in the real world. I like games because they have a different sort of sand, like Minecraft's weird water physics and terraforming. I play games to do things I can't do in real life, and if all a game has to offer is a simulation of real life, I usually tire of it quickly. (I still can't stand the Sims.)

...but there's plenty of sand out here, too. It's just different.

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