Welcome to The Human Farm
Orwell said in his most popular novel that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. It’s so strange to see how such a metaphor continuously applies on our society in such a perfect way even after so many years after so called evolution, or thousand of technological discoveries, after countries and ideologies have fallen apart and risen again mutated into trendier versions of themselves. I guess some things are bound to be avoided by the tides of change, by evolution. I find that funny, scary and disgusting in equal amounts.
The recipe is broken. The social cake one can make by adding up all the ingredients of nowadays society is without a doubt nutritious, but as tasteless as the common rock. So the need for new entertainment methods has arisen, new ways to make the human-ant-worker feel good about himself, about his life and generally speaking to pour some condiments on our everyday cake. So what better way is there than the one where you let the subject choose his destiny, choose to be the person he never got the chance, the courage or the god given opportunity to be? So apart from their raw entertainment value, games do have the possibility to capture the human imagination in a way which allows the players to live through their own personal dreams, to indentify themselves with the characters they control and thus fulfill goals otherwise unreachable for them in real life.
The MMORPGs are highly evolved version of these dream machines. The large variety of classes one can play with and the infinite paths one can choose to follow throughout the game give each player the sense of uniqueness. You can be an inter-stellar mercenary, a life loving priest, a dark necromancer or a vicious and traitorous rogue. You have the chance to rebuild core elements of the society suiting your own wishes and desires, to pick out new friends based only on their skill or their intelligence and eventually pursue common goals with your guild, clan or corporation and take over the world.
The only problem with these MMORPGs, these virtual worlds, or the main problem if you wish to regard it so, is the fact that they are nothing more than simple reflections of our society. They are indeed coated in the golden imagination of one designer or another, but nevertheless the foundation that supports these fantasy worlds is the same with the one that sustains our daily struggle for survival, is the one that has supported the human evolution for millennia and is the only one that we know to be solid enough for the task: money. And for the small children in the front row, I hate to say this, but your parents have been lying to you: pride, honor, friendship or the need to evolve are voided utopian concepts, bed-time bullshit, definitions of values the human race can never fully comprehend and develop. So regardless of the name its coin bares, the economy is the little engine that could, the catalyst of our world and any world we might ever imagine simply because we haven’t found any other to push huge numbers of people forward so fast.
Each economical system man has ever imagined is based on one simple concept: the exchange of goods. This has evolved over time and money was introduced as a form of quantification of a product’s value. When this happened, society witnessed the birth of its most prolific son: the banker. The crafter, the oldest son, spends most of his existence creating elements needed by fellow citizens, which driven by this need, award him with a sum of money equal to the local accepted value of his creation. He in turn uses this money to fund his new creations or to purchases items from other crafters, items that he needs to support his everyday life – sounds simple and clean, doesn’t it? The banker on the other hand, or the economist if you wish, creates nothing. His main purpose in life is to exploit social and economical situation with the declared sole goal of making large sums of money, goal that by some arbitrary reason or simply by envy has been declared to be… wrong. (?)This type of individual has been regarded over the years as a leach, a social parasite, a plague even; he is to be feared and despised. So probably driven by this visceral feeling, the MMORPG developers are trying hard to push the farmers out of their virtual worlds and in order to do so they look no further than the church looked hundreds of years ago when hunting down witches. Are farmers really that bad?
Let’s take a closer look at what they do and what impact their actions have on the MMORPG environment they function in. First of all they are renowned for repetitive specific actions that are known to provide them with the most amount of money/loot in the smallest of time frames. In other words, once a farmer finds the best equation, he will most likely stick to it, meaning a farmer will most likely be seen in the same game zone for days. This of course can be disturbing for a player if he finds himself forced to play in that area, and I emphasize on forced. Otherwise, a player who has no interest in in-game currency, game economy or farming and is more interested in following a game story will see no threat in the farmer if the story that he chooses to follow does not make his path intersect with the one of the farmer. What you don’t know can’t hurt you right? And yes, this is to be regarded as a hint.