Taking Fantasy Too Far

I don’t play in the fantasy kingdom of Hollow any more.  They offended me and they offended my daughter so we have stopped playing there.

When I began playing in the fantasy realm of The World Called Hollow, I was happily hacking and slashing, fishing and mining, chatting and pretending but keeping my distance to some extent from the fantasy and social side of the game for my own protection.

Along came my daughter into Hollow and I stopped hacking and slashing monsters to build up my character and began hovering protectively over her to heal her as she fought monsters to build up hers.  We were having fun playing the game together but I was having more fun than her as it turned out.

My daughter is very firmly grounded in reality and has no real need to escape her life the way I do.  When she entered the world called Hollow she came there to play a game with her mother not to desert her real life for a fantasy one.  She ran around being herself more or less and trying to talk to people and be friendly.

In return she was repeatedly told off for having no “manners”.  The manners they referred to was role-play manners.  She would go into a room in the game, see the names of the other people in the room listed and use those names to be friendly and greet them.  This intruded on their fantasy about being in a real world.  In a real world someone cannot know your name unless they are told so that was one of the things she got told off for.

One day I was showing her around the realm so she could check out the items for sale in the fantasy shops and taverns.  She went into one of them and “bought” some things.  She was promptly told off and accused of being rude for ignoring the fantasy story that was being acted out in the room.

I promptly did the same thing, went in and bought something without paying attention to the story being played out there.  Nobody told me off so I tackled the person who had told my daughter off and we had a minor argument.  I later discovered the person I had argued with was one of the VIP’s in Hollow.

The next time we went into the game together we broke their spamming rule in what we thought were private messages we sent to each other and we were instantly punished by being muted.  This meant we were not able to talk to each other or anyone else in the game.  It was the last straw for my poor daughter and I took great offence to not having been given a warning that what I had done was actually considered spamming.

That was the end of the world called Hollow for both of us but I have to wonder about the phenomenon I encountered there.  I have been searching for a replacement game and there is a whole subculture of people who are living fantasy lives they are creating for themselves, and trying to force onto others, inside what are already fantasy worlds.

I escaped the real world by playing the game in Hollow.  I killed the monsters generated by the game, got excited when I caught imaginary fish or mined imaginary gemstones, worked for hours to make my game character strong and dress it well.

Other people, it seems, go into these games to create entire “lives” which they then “live out”.  They invent a biography, family ties, feuds and alliances.  They create pictures of themselves as they want to look and pay premium charges to upload them then they use the surroundings provided by the game to “live” these lives.  They enact feuds, suffer through imaginary tragedies, marry, have children, adopt each other as parents or grandparents or children.  They break up, “die” and just generally live out the fantasy “life” they create for themselves.

They strongly resent anyone who comes into the game, ignores the fantasy life they have created in there, and is “rude” enough to act as if their personal fantasy is NOT, in fact, real.  They get so caught up in it all that they actually feel threatened when someone’s fantasy life involves wanting to kill them.

The game itself will not allow anyone to be killed without their permission but the players just don’t seem to be able to ignore the role-play rules enough to say “get lost” to someone who decides their role-play requires a duel to the death with someone else’s character!  It baffled me but refusing to let someone force you into a situation that would mean certain “death” for your character is, I gather, considered poor form.

To me that is the same as when the school bully, who always picks on people who are not able to beat him, says meet me after school so I can beat up on you and threatens to punish you by labeling you a chicken if you refuse the challenge.  Try telling him he will have to fight your bodyguard, a person who is as much a threat to him as he is to you, and see how eager he will be to accept the challenge!  Only people who don’t know any better play by the rules of a bully yet here are all these people indulging bullies who, in real life, probably couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag!

At what point does all this fantasy become harmful?  For me it becomes harmful when it is considered more important than real people.  When someone punishes a young person for being friendly and hurts their REAL LIFE feelings to protect a FANTASY LIFE the line has been crossed in my humble opinion.

So now I have found another imaginary world.  I like this one better in some ways and less in others.  In this world I can fish, mine, smelt, chop wood and more.  I can build things, grow things, and create things and all it costs me is time since it is a time based game.

Nobody there is living out an imaginary life seperate from the imaginary life provided by the game so it is more friendly to new players.  As my character is slowly chopping wood to get enough to build a house I have only two options.  Go and do something else in real life or participate in the ongoing chats on my screen.

I can’t leave the game for too long as they do regular bot checks forcing me to type in some random numbers to prove I am still at the keyboard but so far I am enjoying it.  I have my doubts that my daughter will enjoy this one and my workmates found my enthusiasm for being able to collect one log of wood per minute hilarious and incomprehensible but I will see how it goes.  It’s better than going gambling and that’s the main thing at the moment.

As for the handful of really rude (in real life) people in the world called Hollow well, in a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black, I think they need to get a life!

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