By Evan Schrager
In the extended version of Lord of the Rings, The Green Dragon is a loud and merry bar full of cheerful hobbits. It’s an uplifting experience watching Merry and Pipin jump around the table belting out their song. Everyone is cheering them on, and the mood is very happy and wild. You are watching as if you were standing inside the bar cheering them on along with the audience.
On the other hand, The Green Dragon in LOTRO was a mild disappointment when we arrived. It was empty and seemed almost abandoned, aside from the tavern keep and another straggling hobbit. The point of view is interesting though, because you get to control your avatar. You can run to one side of the bar, and back to the other. You can talk to the tavern keep, and leave and come back in. It just happens to be empty when you enter-who knows what goes on inside when you leave?
In Chapter 2, Sam and Ted Sandyman, the miller’s son, had a friendly argument in the Green Dragon about the strange things happening around the Shire. Ted Sandyman represented the general population of hobbits that wished to ignore all the strange happenings. ‘Ah, you do if you listen. But I can hear fireside-tales and children’s stories at home, if I want.’ Ted is referring to the “queer” events that have taken place. He makes an assertion that talking about such things is unnecessary and frightening. Hobbits enjoy themselves, and make sure above all else, that they are happy and satisfied. Merry and Pipin’s table dance in the movie also shows the hobbits’ ignorance to the dangers that were about to unfold.
Jim’s point about imagination in relation to LOTRO makes a lot of sense to me. If you want to really experience the game as if it were real life, you must use your imagination. When you are out completing your Epic Quests, maybe the workers and the Logging Camp aren’t cutting wood anymore. Maybe they went to sleep! Maybe they are drinking ale at The Green Dragon! Who knows!? It is Middle Earth-each and every citizen has a life, and hobbies, just like Tolkien describes. Sam likes to garden, Frodo enjoys a walk in the woods, and Bilbo enjoys an adventure. I really like the refrigerator analogy as well, because while we know that the button controls the light, we can still imagine what’s going on inside. LOTRO allows the player to make what he/she wants to out of their experience. You can power level your character to 50, or you can experience the life of a citizen in Middle Earth at your own pace. Taking it slow really allows you to absorb the reality of Middle Earth as a world. It differs from the novel in that you can see it first hand, instead of creating a picture in your mind. Neither perspective is better- they just present the world in a different way.