Unfortunately for us all, we can’t play all day every day. In between raiding, looting and questing in our favorite MMO, we also need to sleep, attend class, or even leave for work. Whatever the reason, at some point we need to get up from the chair, turn off the PC or console and leave our loyal character behind. But have you ever given any thought to what happens to your character once you stop playing?
The boring answer is that it turns to endless lines of ones and zeroes and stored on some faraway server until the next time you play. However, I think it will be more fun to pretend otherwise. Consider this - what would happen to your character if MMOs were really the living, persistent worlds they always claim they are? What happens once that voice in the back of their head, the one controlling everything they do or say, suddenly disappears as the player steps away from the game?
Since in this thought experiment, the game’s world never stops, your character will still remain active even when you’re not controlling them. Since I find it hard to believe that a sentient entity enjoys being controlled, your character might go on a quest of their own - a quest to rid themselves from the demonic forces that make them do unspeakable things, like slay countless boars, or send armies to their deaths. Just imagine all the terrifying monsters and shadowy figures your character encounters along the way - monsters and figures you’ll never see. Ironically, this could actually be a great idea for a game. Maybe a little bit too “meta”.
If your character doesn’t try and fight your influence, they might actually be looking forward to the times you take control over their body and mind. It might give them a sense of purpose, or at least a break from their normal, boring life. Imagine if you character is actually a simple farmer, toiling hard all day, every day. When he feels the presence of the player taking over, all he can think is, “finally”. From that moment he is the powerful warrior who saves kingdoms, slays countless wicked beasts and conquers many lands. When the player logs off, he loses all that, returning to his farm to work until the next time you come calling.
But what if every time you play as your character, they never remembers any of it? What if once you log out, your warrior or warlock wakes up from a dreamlike trance, and finds himself standing somewhere he’s never been before, covered with monster guts? That must be a weird experience. However, I’m guessing that by the time they reach level 50, they’ll get used to the idea of saving many men and maidens in their sleep.
There’s no real punchline behind this thought experiment. This is basically me thinking out loud about MMOs and MMORPGs in a way I’ve never done before. Hopefully, you will look at your loyal character in a different way, and appreciate everything they are going through just for your amusement. Maybe you’ll even start thinking about other aspects of your favorite online games, no matter how silly they sound.