So I just started playing Lord of the Rings Online, and I went in
enthusiastically but cautiously, having never played a MMORPG before. I
was expecting all the things my World of Warcraft-playing friends were
constantly moaning about: the grinding, the scam artists, and, of course,
the monotonous fetch-this and kill-that quests MMORPG’s are famous for.
I was not expecting a game that, at times, strikes an emotional chord as
deeply as the LOTR movies themselves did upon first viewing. I don’t want to give away too much for any readers out there who have not experienced the game yet themselves, but supporting characters do die, sometimes in bunches, and you will mourn their loss. There is even one quest where you have to go and bury the bodies of friends who have fallen in battle, an emotionally wrenching chore for those who were willing to invest time into the game’s numerous backstories and thus grew attached to certain NPC’s.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover the reactions that this game
invokes from me. Anytime one feels about a game reinforces the illusion
of reality that video games today attempt to foster. This delusion of
reality even calls to mind the Hindu idea of maya, which if I recall 12th
grade theology correctly states that the world we live in is an illusion
that leads us to think it is real. Maya even can denote magic. In one
sense, the best videogames create their own maya, and so far LOTRO is
doing an excellent job of it. I’m looking forward to continuing on.