In honor of Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing a blog post I originally wrote for The Modern Day Pirates that was posted January 16, 2011.
I bet you’ve wondered what it would be like to live in a video game. One day, when you were bored with your repetitive old routine, you dreamed about what it might be like to live in one of your favorite games – possibly an RPG. They’re lavish, engrossing worlds. It’s easy to imagine yourself hanging out with the characters you grew to know and love. Well, I’m here to crush that dream. Because living in an RPG would be terrible. And here’s why.
Sure, Magic is Fun. When it’s Not Killing You.
Don’t lie, you’ve probably fantasized more than once in your life what it would be like to use magic. It would have many useful applications in everyday life after all – you could light the fireplace without having to heave yourself off the couch; vanish would come in handy for teenagers wanting to sneak back in after curfew; (Let’s not even get into the criminal applications.) and confuse would let you convince your boss that it was Johnson he wanted to come in on Saturday – not you. So with all these practical uses for the stuff, who wouldn’t want to inhabit the world of an RPG, where casting magic is as common as cell phones?
Because everyone has a freaking cell phone. That’s why.
You and your band of loveable misfit do-gooders aren’t the only ones with access to these sweet spells. Pretty much everybody’s got at least a spell or two – including Johnson, who’s itching to get you back for having to miss his flag football game. And that squirrel out back who’s giving you the crook eye – he’s got a level 2 thunder spell with your name on it. What I’m trying to point out here is that other people have magic too – and they’re just as eager to use it as you are.
And what about summons? Bahamut’s scary enough when he’s on your side, thanks. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of his fury. I get it – you’re terrifying and very powerful, Bahamut! Now just let me clean up this puddle of urine totally unrelated to this situation and get the hell out of here!
Think about the RPG’s you’ve played and the offensive spells your poor characters have had to endure and survive again and again. Does any of that look fun? Would you really want to be on the business end of an ultima spell? Does twitching on the floor with your last clings to life sound like a good time? It shouldn’t. Unless you’re a masochist. It’s all fun and games until somebody turns into a frog, people.
Which brings me to my next point.
Status Effects are the Devil
You know, I don’t mind elemental magic too much. Blizzard? It’s just frozen water. Fire? Eh, it’s cold here in the snowy mountains anyway. Quake? Bring it. I don’t mind elemental magic because there’s scarier magic out there – spells like confuse, stone, blind and poison. Nothing can screw with you more than status effects – especially when a cure isn’t readily available or you’re hit with more than one of these nightmares at once. How helpless do you feel as your jacked main character attacks his own teammates after he’s been confused? Makes you start regretting equipping that badass sword, doesn’t it?
I don’t want to live in a world where your significant other can cast silence on you just to make you shut up during a fight or you have to keep remedies for mini or toad or pig rattling around in your purse. Never knowing if that pretty statue is a work of art or some poor slob with no access to a soft. If that sounds fun to you, you might as well live in the Twilight Zone. If you really can’t see how living in a world of jerks with access to nasty disease causing, mind altering spells would be hell, maybe being locked in a room with a confused Chuck Norris would change your mind.
The World is Awful
Now, we do not, by any means, live in a perfect world. There is a lot of room for improvement here on Earth. But at least there’s no evil entity trying to screw with time and rip the very fabric of existence. A giant monster doesn’t come out of the sea and snack on people like they’re Pop Tarts. We don’t live amongst a monster producing fog. And there’s no terrifying alien clown trying to destroy the world. So that’s good, at least. Can’t say the same for the suckers who live in RPGs. Their worlds all suck – why do you think they constantly need saving?
Just using Final Fantasy VII as an example – would you want to live under Shinra’s mantra of act now and deal with the bodies later? Almost every town in that game has got some Shinra related sob story attached to it. Not to mention the giant meteor coming to crush everybody and the highly destructive WEAPONs running amok. Forget about spending your weekend chilling with your friends and your famous nachos – it’s way more likely you’ll be moving your family to some cave to live out your final days after WEAPON danced on your house.
Honestly, you start to play a lot of RPGs and the stories kind of start to get jumbled in your head – why? Because many of them have the same basic storyline: evil whack job is out to destroy existence. Hero and some collection of wronged/bored/stupid people and/or creatures journey to stop it. Put it this way – you really want to be living in any world where something like Cait Sith is in charge of your destiny? His limit break can murder all his friends instantly. Then what? That cave’s not gonna protect you when meteor comes to crash your “grubs and last bottle of water” party. I’ll take my chances with this planet and it’s non-magical issues.
You’re Constantly Getting Attacked.
As you venture outside your home on a lovely spring day, you wander by a small rabbit grazing in the grass. What normally happens next in your everyday life?
- You continue on your way, perhaps commenting on the cuteness of the animal who barely notices you
- You ready your weapon as the rabbit bounds angrily for the artery in your throat, gnashing it’s piranha-like teeth
If you chose B, I’m sorry, but you live in an RPG. (I’m also sorry about that crazy guy gathering all the world’s crystals and burning every town in his quest to become overlord of your planet. That’s gotta be rough.)
In an RPG you can’t walk anywhere without being attacked, even by creatures that otherwise looks friendly. Sure, most dragons don’t seem like the lap dog type, but what about these yans?
Looks harmless, right? Like something some rich girl might tote around in a purse? At least until it starts casting comet on you. Nonstop until it dies. Or you die. (Which is the scenario is prefers.) The world is packed with violent, nasty critters all thirsting for your noble, world saving blood. (Or maybe your money. It would explain a lot.) If you knew you could get mauled by any number of wildlife by just taking a step out of your house, you would never leave it. No wonder no one seems to travel much in these games besides your band of crazies. Where are these people gonna go? There are monsters to the North, an ocean to the West and the town to the East is on fire. Again. And don’t even think about going South. Everyone who’s traveled to that forest has never been heard from again. Legend says they’ve been eaten by murderous mushrooms! (Or maybe they actually found a better place to live and never looked back.)
You Have to Walk. Everywhere.
Most likely, you don’t walk everywhere. You rely on cars, trains, subways, planes etc., to get you where you need to be faster than your feet alone could manage. It’s nice to be able to hop in your car and head to the store, or take a plane across the country to visit grandma on the farm. Well, if you lived in an RPG you’d have to hoof it to grandma’s. And hopefully she hasn’t sold the place and moved to the beach by the time you get there.
Oh, sure, there’s access to transportation in these games – but most of the time you can’t have it. They’re all broken or taken or the stupid token drippy girl has ‘morals’ or something and won’t let you steal one. So instead you have to pay your dues and march from coast to coast until your feet wanna fall off. Deserts? Endless fields of ice? Dragon guarded lava cave? By the time you’re finally on that airship you’ll have experienced every kind of exhaustion, bite or disorder a human body can possibly endure. Instead of buying hats that will increase your magic by one, you should be buying shoes by the gross to protect your broken, blistered, probably disgusting feet. Even Dr. Scholl’s doesn’t make enough padding for the kind of walking your party’s doing. When the team finally does score that airship they should be kissing the deck and weeping tears of joy by the bucketful.
Of course there are sometimes other method of transportation you use before gaining that precious, precious airship. There are cars – some of which still let the monsters in for some reason, like it’s some kind of drive through safari; boats, giant birds, floating schools – the usual stuff. RPG teams are pretty resourceful for the most part. They work with whatever they can get. But while they will trudge through every kind of body battering climate and sleep in tents on top of seven other rank smelling companions – most of them won’t cross a river or even a mild looking stream unless they find a bridge. That’s just laziness is what that is. You’ve come this far – come up with a plan! It’s not like no one’s carrying a sharp object! Cut down a tree! Nobody can swim? In the whole group? Odds say at least one of you can manage a doggy paddle – perhaps the dog-like creature you’ve been lugging around since the last time the baddie showed up to taunt you and drop a clue to his next location. You can’t be afraid of getting wet – you walked five miles in the rain to get here. And ruining your clothes? Please. If you cared about your clothes you would actually change them. Ever. At least occasionally. And your shoes definitely already have holes in them, so they’re destined for the trash heap anyway. Come on! The folks from Oregon Trail could do it on meager rations while battling cholera, snake bites, broken legs and bad water. And they just wanted to move across the country, not save the planet from exploding as the sacred crystals create a time paradox that puts sorcerer bad guy back in time to do it all over again.
Of course, Oregon Trail is based on things that happened to real people. In real life.
…On second thought, you know…maybe there is a game that would be worse to live in.