Thursday, February 12, 2015

Do MMORPGs wish they were Larps?

This morning I found this promotional video for Sony's Everquest MMORPG. I played EQ many years ago so I was curious what had changed since I got that monkey off my back. It turns out the video was not actually made by Sony, but, according to the Sneaky Zebra's video description,
"The guys over at Sony Online Entertainment challenged us to make a video celebrating EverQuest, so we thought, what better way than to take the characters and place them "In Real Life"

I don't know who Sneaky Zebra is, but it looks like they make a lot of cosplay videos which makes sense watching the EQ promo. What strikes me is how they turned the characters into players, real normal people who might play the game, and not sexualized exaggerations, which make is seem much more approachable to me. Even more so, I'm struck how Sneaky Zebra thought this was a good way to promote this MMO. The truth is the game doesn't really look like this. I had to check the web just to make sure it hadn't changed completely since I'd played. So I jump to the conclusion that, at least for the fans who made the video, this is an idealized vision of the game. This is how they want to see themselves inside the EQ universe. Hell! So do I!
I don't think Sneaky Zebra is alone in this ideal vision. Look at the cosplay community and you'll find along with anime and super hero characters, a lot of people are dressing up as their favorite League of Legends or World of Warcraft characters. How many Master Chiefs are there out there? Clearly they love their games, but they're also striving to be a part of the game that extends well past their controller and screen. They want to see themselves inside the exciting game world thats displayed through that electric window.
I, as a larper, want that same thing when I dress up and go out with my friends to make up stories in the park. Just like those MMOs, the reality doesn't look like the ideal I'm hoping for or imagining. The costumes aren't as impressive; the world isn't as immersive and big budget. I'm stunned to see how similar my vision is to this promo.
Maybe we are all looking for the same thing? Maybe those scads of computer players could become larpers if it was as easy as running a computer game? I don't really know if companies like Sony want their MMOs to be larps, but players like Sneaky Zebra might.