Despite the connotation of the title, gutting something isn’t always bad. Sure, it implies a level of viscera, off cutting, splitting, and taking away. But when you rebuild something, when you renovate, for example, a house, the first thing you do is gut the place. Gutting can be, after its tonal unpleasantness, a start to something new.
I was gutted a little the other day, or at least delivered a bit of a gut-shot. Reading Penny Arcade, as I’m apt to do a few times a week, I came across this comic. I don’t often read the posts that go along with them, I’ll be honest about that, but I do, occasionally, when something resonates. This comic did. In reading the post, I came across this text:
World of Warcraft ate the core out of the experience, gutted it, so no matter what the shell is, eventually I arrive at a place where the spine of it is so fucking bare – its manipulations so transparent – that I sit back in my chair, and push the keyboard away. I sit like this for awhile.
And that was that. These few lines have captured the feeling of malaise, the very reasons behind it, perfectly. I can play all the way through Star Wars: the Old Republic. I can play all of Rift, Lord of the Rings Online, and likely, in the future, Wildstar and ESO. But the experience has been gutted by WoW. I see all the viscera in there. I can see the rapid beating of the crafting system, the slow digestion of the currency grinds, the pulsing of the gearing cycle. I see the bare spine, there, the thread that connects it to every other MMO I’ve ever played – and quit – and I suddenly just don’t really see the point of continuing the game.
I’m not down on WoW or other MMOs, to be fair. They’re great. The work they’ve done, the new heights they’ve reached in just about a decade, were unthinkable when they first appeared. What’s been made in the past and what’s currently being made now are technological feats amazing to the mind and spirit.
But I’ve seen the inside of them. I can’t stop thinking about those pieces, those little inner workings.
It’s not them, you see; it’s me.
And none of this is to say I’m done with them. I’m sure I’m not. I’m sure there’s many more 3-monthers in front of me, 3 months being the time it really takes to dissect a game, to find the hidden valves in the heart of the talents system, the subtle manipulations of the players by the game’s nervous system.
I just wish there was a new organism out there, one I hadn’t encountered yet, as I hadn’t encountered MMOs prior to their arrival. The money involved makes it increasingly unlikely that innovation’s around the corner. There’s not much reason to evolve away from a system that’s spurting cash from every pore.
Stubborn (and hoping to renovate)