************** Admin Note 11/18/05: This controversial post touched the nerve of alot of folks when it was first written exactly three years ago. as you will read their replies below - I wanted to bump it, not to stir up a hornet's nest, but to help move some of you out of your comfort level and consider a couple things that you might not have otherwise. This post was not intended to be an accusation of any kind or an indictment of EQ or its players, despite how some have interpreted it. But I invite you to open your heart and mind and just consider what I've written below. Also and most importantly - This post is not about gaming - It's about taking time for what's important - If you see this post only as a post about gaming, then perhaps it's time to look at how gaming fits into your life. If you are indifferent to what I've written, then you probably have no issues with either your playtime or your relationships. If you are saddened or angry, then I ask you only to look inside yourself to seek the reasons for this pain. - Ron *************
What if, while you were playing EQ later today, as many of you will be doing, you hear a knock on the door, and when you stand up to peer through the curtains, or the blinds, or your door peep hole to see who it was interrupting you, you see a highway patrol officer standing there? And what if, when you open the door, you see not one, but two officers, both with somber, sad looks on their faces? And what if, even though you know something is terribly wrong already, they ask if you are a relative or partner of one of your family members or friends? And what if, at that moment, as you begin to feel a rush of adrenalin and anxiety, they tell you that they are sorry, but this person you know and love has been in a terrible accident and that person has died? And what if, at that moment, as their words are drowned out by your sudden confusion and massive feelings of sorrow and anger, and as your knees begin to weaken, you say to yourself, even for a brief instant, that you were meaning to spend more time with that person, and to someday tell that person that you were sorry for not having spent more time with her sooner? And what if, the reason that you were not spending time with that person in the first place, was because of the amount of time that you were spending online, playing Everquest, or some other game, or simply surfing the web?
What if that person was the loving wife, husband, or significant other that hated the fact that you spent so much time playing, but who, out of her love for you, tolerated it, and who still cleaned up after you, cooked for you, did your laundry, all the while hoping that someday you would return your attentions to her? But now it's too late.
What if that person was a loving parent who spent a lifetime trying to raise you as best as she or he could? Or what if it were both parents who were just killed?
What if it was your son or daughter who only went out to McDonalds for a few minutes to bring you back a meal, so you could continue your raid without stopping?
What if it was your whole family, who went out for a Sunday trip to the park, while you stayed behind so you could play and now they are all gone...in a quick second.
And while you kneel at your threshold with your head in your hands in a daze, while the officers who hate this part of the job, uncomfortably ask if there is anyone you need to call, you think of the few moments you last spent with that person or persons so long ago, and realize that you could have spent much more time...but didn't. And while you sit there, looking out at the world and the cars that are passing by...and the trees that now seem to be a surreal faded color of warped green and brown, you see a couple walk by, staring at you sitting there, wondering to themselves just what it is you were told to cause your skin to pale and your tears to flow, and immediately you know that you are now alone. The officers, having done their civic duty, now regrettably retreat to their cruiser with their heads hung low. In your hand is the business card of the county medical examiner which they left you, with a phone number which you need to call as soon as possible to 'make arrangements.'
You remain frozen for a long while, crouched up at the front door asking yourself how this could happen. The hand-written phone number on the business card begins to run and fade, as the tears stream from your face and drop heavily upon the card. "What am I going to do?" you ask yourself. Thoughts run through your mind at a million miles per hour, none of them making sense. You only know the tremendous feeling of loss and emptiness that is knotting your stomach. And the one and only clear thought that keeps running through your mind, is that you should have, and could have spent more time with that person...but you didn't. And while you unfold the business card that has now stained your palm with faded blue ink, you know you must call the number and go down to the medical examiner's office to identify your friend or relative.
Meanwhile, your guildmates, far off in the land of Norrath, joke around with each other about what it is you are doing that has kept you AFK for so long. "He must be on the toilet," they muse. "He's probably putting another pizza in the oven," they say. They know that pizza has been your traditional food of choice to eat while playing as it's quick and easy to make. They wait a few more minutes and decide to press on knowing that you will rejoin them shortly. After all, the slaying of a dragon is an important event, and it's critical that they pull the dragon before some other guild gets in there.
As the hours pass, your computer monitor, now unattended, scrolls with guildchat, first wondering where you are..and then with the battle spam of the dragon fight...and then the discussions of loot begin, the items from the dragon are rolled for, and once that is complete, the magic users gate back to their bind spots, and the druids and wizards port the rest of the guildmates to various points around Norrath and Luclin.
Before long, the chat on your monitor slows to its normal pace. It is starting to get dark outside now. It's been hours since that first ominous knock on your door, and the pots and pans in your kitchen which would have been alive with the tastes and smells of food by now, stand cold and empty. They await the skilled cook, who would eventually carry their bounty to the awaiting level 63 guild officer as he vanquishes evil in Norrath. This was the nightly routine, after all. But this loving cook, who had prepared dinner for you every night, would never return. And the pots and pans which had been washed only hours ago in preparation for tonight's meal, still gleam under the kitchen ceiling light as the last of the water used to clean them is absorbed by the cotton cloth underneath.
In a flash, your life has changed. Your online game holds no interest...you are numb, and confused, and angry, and sad. You keep saying, "If only I...." but this torment only serves to make you more upset. And because your are fatigued with the dozen or so hours of energy having been expelled to sort this whole thing out, you fall asleep at the table with eyes both red and teary. Somehow though, during the night, you managed to get yourself back to bed. You must rest, because tomorrow you must start calling your family and friends to let them know what happened, and you must make arrangements for the funeral.
Some six hours later, you are awakened by the sound of the blinds in your bedroom being raised. "Time to get up!" your partner says. "What happened to you?" she continues, referring to how restless you were last night, having pulled all the sheets off to your side of the bed. Groggy and confused, you suddenly realize that this whole thing had been a dream. Your partner, or family member, or friend was not dead, but very much alive. And while she had given up on you long ago to ask you to join your friends to do anything since you always play 'that game' instead, they decide to ask you just one more time if you want to go to the mall for shopping and then to a movie.
Now, imagine this whole story above was about you...think about it and put yourself into that person's shoes. What if this was you and what if it really were to happen? The question now is, do you go off to Norrath? Or do you go to the mall with your loved one and friends knowing now that at any second...there just might be a knock at your door? Only YOU can answer that question. Diggo
Edited by: lizwool at: 12/6/06 8:20
Co-Founder of OLGA and member since 2002