I’ve always been a fan of literature and reading in general. That being said, it’s surprising when I think about it how much I prefer reading about sword fighting than actually engaging in the violence in a virtual world such as LOTRO. Snow Crash makes no attempt to be passed off as nonfiction. It is a satire with elements so exaggerated that many come off as nearly if completely comical. I mean, a guy walking around Los Angeles with a pair of Japanese swords strapped to his back? Not something you’d typically see in ANY city (unless there was a convention of some sort being held).
Yet it’s more engaging. In LOTRO I have more at stake with the fight; it’s my character representing me that is fighting, compared to a character in a book where the outcome is fixed whether I read on or not. But it’s not as immersing. Possibly it has to do with imagination. When reading the book I am able to imagine all sorts of possible subtle movements or effects of each action; in LOTRO I’m stuck watching the same animation over. And over. And over. This is especially disappointing if, like me, your computer isn’t built to handle games (or anything else) requiring any amount of relatively advanced graphics. I have to completely minimize the game quality in order to play it at all. Might I be more engaged in the game if there was actually visible detail? Maybe a little, but probably still not to the same degree as when reading the novel.
Snow Crash also has a little more of a realistic feel to it. Despite being only text rather than actual images of humanoids as in LOTRO, I find the combat more believable. Part of it is definitely the weapons. In LOTRO I’ve found myself wielding something named along the lines of “Steel Greatsword of Endurance,” which means it gives my character “+12.3 in-combat moral regeneration” (or something) and a “+ chance to critically hit.” In Snow Crash, Hiro Protagonist dual wields a Katana and a Wakizashi. While “Katana” doesn’t immediately sound as epic or mystical as the Steel Greatsword of Whatever, it turns out that a Katana gives me a “+12.3 to Reality” and a “+ chance to slice a dude in half.” That’s just more appealing to me if I’m going to read about combat. The description elements mixed with my imagination create a scenario many times more believable than the scenario simply given to me by LOTRO.
Also, how can you not cheer for a guy named Hiro Protagonist? No matter how hard I try, I’ll never have a character with a name THAT awesome in LOTRO.