Such things include, for example, the paternalistic nonsense in the latest episode when Asuna was being stalked, or how Kirito is just this projection of all things chuunibyou (a “beater” duel wielding double phalluses made of the hardest material you can find and is probably the highest level character soloing mobs (almost) nobody can!), someone who is able to do everything important himself except all the domestic stuff, so he has some excuse to interact with cute girls, or generally the design of the MMORPG is not only outdated, but has some glaring problems that borders on anacronism. The list can go on, but it tops out at “why is a solo freak playing a MMORPG?” Because we have a term for this, and it’s not Beater–it’s Retard. Only an idiot play a MMORPG by himself the whole time. I guess even bots play with each other in those games! Yea yea he does play with someone else and he will play with other people eventually, but this loner attitude is for losers.
I’m not really a big MMORPG player nowadays, although I paid my dues in EQ and WoW over the years, plus handful of other games that I just dabbled in. I enjoy being hooked on it, and in a perverse sense I see the setup for SAO as the ultimate vacation. “Hey boss, some evil cyberterrorist hijacked my body so I have to play this game until I beat it, or I die. Can I take a sabbatical? Oh my health insurance will cover the cost of living, niiiice.” Do you ever feel like that? My friend who already put in his PTO days for Pandaria probably would agree. What’s more, our SAO overlord enslaved an entire server full of people, so you will have people to do stuff with even at all times, day and night.
I read this post not too long ago and it reminds me the one thing SAO did right that, say, .Hack//sign did poorly. That is exactly how the video game interact with reality in a way that the viewer can associate with. Back in the late 90s, .Hack appealed to the type of people who actually played, say, RO Beta or EQ, and the nods in the game are a great way to build on that connection between viewer and material. Fast forward to today, I think that alone is definitely not enough. SAO does refer to game mechanics, too, but it adds the whole dimension that, coincidentally, I could really care less for but elevates the show: a solid standalone narrative. You could treat SAO like a fantasy novel and ignore that they’re trapped inside this VR thing, living lives like fictional characters in a fantasy story. I think by cutting out (admittedly very potent plot juice) the real life aspects, it makes SAO an enjoyable story about MMORPGs as narratives like a MMORPG. Think of SWTOR without all the traveling.
To that end, I’m taking the assumption that a game is only a game when it’s fun to play. When it gets too personal or too serious, it’s going to require some change in perspectives. Fundamentally, that is going to happen when you try to rope in a couple friends for a weekend night crawling dungeons online, or any other similar activity. It just gets less personal and more business-like when we’re talking about 25 or 40 people and their collective weekend or whatever time zone they happen to be in, in order to not stand in the fire and make the other 39 people’s lives miserable. In FFXI’s and EQ’s cases, this number can be up by even more. In other words, MMORPGs are often very serious business, at least up to say 2009 or so.
Perhaps another way to look at it is that a honest look at MMORPG culture and fandom necessarily cannot be encapsulated by a chuunibyou-driven narrative. Think of the Guild for example; it’s more about normal, everyday lives. It’s not about some guy who is super powerful and beats all his foes. He doesn’t suffer any real setbacks. But because now we don’t have this everyday life thing to get in the way, we can enjoy SAO for what it is: just yet another hero’s quest, the ones that typifies the single player experience. There is not much MMO-y about SAO besides that other characters can interact with you; once you strip the gamer-game-character-dichotomy, it’s all just a fantasy setting with people in it.
Because, indeed, you can’t save the world in FFXI all alone by yourself, that’s for the home versions of such games. Juggling this dichotomy and undercutting the fundamental fact about MMORPG life makes SAO ultimately a sad exercise in excessive chuu2-ness, but also one that can be enjoyable as a single-player media that typifies the TV-viewing and novel-reading experiences. Personally it makes SAO a very difficult pill to swallow because I enjoy MMORPGs for largely different reasons, but I know for sure there are all kind of people out there who probably gets that power trip out of it.
And I can probably go on and show you how sad it is when people enjoy their power tripping on MMORPGs, because all that has happened is a player demonstrating his or her own pathetic nature for the world to see. It’s fine if you power trip all you want in some single-player experience, but, again, this is why it’s Retarded to be a Kirito in real life. Friends don’t let friends play MMORPG by themselves.
He isn’t a guy I dislike, but Kirito (and to an extent, Asuna) should really take a back seat and enjoy their GLOOP GLOOP moment, out of our view. Meanwhile, MORE DEBAN plz.