Did..did he just decapitate someone?
-Calvin Patimeteeporn (Calvirth)
While walking through the Shire in LOTRO, Calvirth is quickly spotted by hostile toads and is immediately attacked. Calvirth grasped his great sword and began to run towards the charging creature. Letting out a battle cry, Calvirth launches himself into battle, only to have all of his actions taken over by the computer. Every attack, ranged and melee, are all automatic. The game takes over combat entirely, leaving the gamer only controlling when he/she wanted to use a special attack. The combat system of LOTRO is completely non-interactive and extremely, for a lack of a better term, boring. Each attack in the game is completely up to a secret formula within the system that calculates the winner and the loser. However, rather than broadcasting that result in an efficient manner, gamers are put through choppy and repetitive animation. When I roam Middle-Earth in LOTRO, I purposefully avoid engaging in battles. Not because I am of a low level (13!) but because I dread the inevitable mundane process that is to follow: you attack, the enemy attacks, you attack, the enemy attacks, someone dies.
What Happens When I Play LOTRO:
Not Pictured: Fun
However, Snow Crash has an entirely new structure. Hiro Protagonist slices and dices people from page to page and Neal Stephenson writes these battles in great detail. Each fight is dynamic and captivating. Though the media of a book is not able to demonstrate animation as well as a game, the power of prose perfectly portrays these events. When reading Snow Crash I found myself completely captivated by the fight scenes. Whether it was Hiro decapitating a greased up guy trying to get on a boat or Raven throwing bamboo spears through people, I was engrossed. Sure, there weren’t pictures or videos displaying these fights but the imagination can take these scenes beyond what artists are able to create (corny!). Imagining Hiro lashing out his blades and dismembering multiple enemies from page to page is certainly an amazing experience, if not horrifying.
Me Reading Snow Crash
Not Pictured: A Healthy Childhood
Thus, while a video game has more opportunities to be more compelling than a book, Lord of the Rings Online fails to captivate gamers in combat while Snow Crash does.
Books: 1 Video Games: 0