As our world rapidly descends into totalitarianism via the ruse of preposterous COVID lockdowns, pervasive Big Tech censorship, and so-called “hate speech” laws, I have come to the sobering conclusion that human controlled avatars in virtual worlds possess far more freedom and autonomy than exists in the real world.
Essential human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are under relentless attack here in the USA by the collusion of government, oligarchs, the Deep State, Big Tech, globalist elites and their propaganda wing — the mainstream media and entertainment complexes. As a result, there are fewer and fewer places of propaganda free refuge.
You can log on to World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, the Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest and most every other fantasy virtual world and enjoy far more basic freedoms and human rights than you can in most countries in the world. You can freely assemble, you can speak you mind, you can buy and sell, you are not permanently enslaved to a job or other mundane tasks.
In many ways, virtual worlds are like the fictional Matrix where one is given all these human rights and freedoms and allowed to self-actualize and pursue happiness as they see fit. I think a lot of people put up with the daily banality and desperation of existence only to find a few hours of escape into their own versions of the Matrix.
In the near future, I believe that more people will retreat into virtual worlds to find refuge from the real world. At least most fantasy worlds are predictable and don’t change the rules and customs every 5 minutes like the real world. Humans love stability and can only handle so much change. Virtual worlds, especially fantasy ones, are a welcome daily antidote to the stress of modern day living and that explains the core of their appeal.
For myself, I find that I am far more happier existing in a fantasy virtual world than I do in the real world. I would rather combat monsters in Azeroth than combat the daily insanity that is shoved down the throats of people in the real world. In a fantasy virtual worlds like Azeroth and Norrath, I am at more at ease and I can fully relax because I don’t have to worry about real world politics and social activism. I don’t have to endure Big Brother watching me and the tiresome Black Lives Matter, Love is love, and PRIDE bumper sticker slogans everywhere.
Thanks to the open and unregulated nature of most fantasy virtual worlds, you are the master of your own destiny. You can start off a mere pauper and become a rich king. You can be an anti-social outcast or a gregarious life of the party. Take the path well-travelled or the path less-travelled. Be a hero or villain, the choice is yours.
I recall an explanation Richard Bartle gave for what inspired him to co-create MUDS. He mentioned that it was a response to the inequities of the British class system where all players start off equal thanks to the beneficence of their creators. I find it interesting that no AAA fantasy virtual world has been modelled after the false utopias/theocracies of Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, or Cuba. The most natural and viable virtual worlds that players gravitate to are wilderness sandboxes where players are allowed to exist with maximum freedom and as little interference from the admins as possible.
Virtual worlds by their primitive and simplistic nature are frontier worlds and open-ended without the shackles of beurucative governments to regulate every aspect of your life. That is exactly why players love them.
Now if virtual world luminaries like Raph Koster or Richard Bartle had made these audacious claims it would be big news and many articles written about this. But sadly, many of those luminaries have joined forces with the powers that be in the real world and have grown suspiciously silent.
Up until recently, video games were like wildlife preserves. Millions of gamers were enjoying their hobby under the radar just like the bucolic hobbits blissfully existed in Middle-earth without the Dark Lord being aware of them. But then that all changed with the introduction of identity politics and values based corporate culture.
Sleepy gamer gods like Koster, Bartle, Pardo, Metzen, Kaplan, Hartsman never complain about the intrusion of identity politics into our sacred virtual words. Most of them have gone into intellectual hibernation and are instead resting on the laurels of their past glories. Some of them are even foolishly cheering this nihilism on. The bottom line is that they are allowing the magical genre that they created and nurtured to be slowly destroyed. To be silent in the face of evil is to be complicit with evil. Sins of omission are just as damnable as sins of commission.
Even streamers and YouTube e-celebs like Asmongold, Bellular Gaming, KiraTV rarely — if ever — honestly deal with this brazen assault on our virtual world safe spaces. What are they afraid of?
If they have spoken out, it is news to me. If they haven’t spoken out, I would like to know why?
There is growing evidence that companies who create virtual worlds like Blizzard Entertainment and Daybreak Games are rapidly infusing their personal social activism and identity politics into our virtual worlds. These moral busybodies are hard at work destabilizing and perverting our virtual worlds so they can win awards from Geoff Keighley, GLAAD, DICE, PAX and other leftist organizations. Nothing but their own twisted selfish ideology is sacred to them. They care about their own careers more than they do about the experience of their players. They want to “reimagine” Azeroth, Norrath and even Middle-earth and make it exactly like the real world.
When fantasy virtual worlds become more like the real world, then they will cease to be fantasy virtual worlds. Every time a MMORPG studio introduces neo-Marxist concepts like diversity, inclusion, equity, and representation, our virtual worlds slowly lose their reason to exist as rejuvenative oases of ideologically neutral escapism for players.
When enough players stop subscribing these very same thoughtless designers will be out of a job — all because they failed to respect some of the fundamental premises of virtual worlds: individuality, freedom, autonomy, agency, self-determination, and escapism. Burning your furniture to heat your house is unstainable.
This is the result of years of MMO studios hiring the wrong people. Instead of hiring theorycrafting guild leaders, monetization experts, and blue haired pansexual queer feminists who check off the right boxes, they should have hired world design experts. As we have just seen with Blizzard, incompetent people were promoted and then they hired people just like them resulting in a vicious circle where the blind are leading the blind.
A virtual world is more than just geology, crates and barrels, flora and fauna; it is about the PCs and NPCs that inhabit that world and how they all interact to create a cohesive whole greater than the sum of its parts. But a well-made virtual world is nothing without the players. Additionally, a well-made virtual world is only possible with designers who truly understand the motivations of why players are there in the first place.
The last refuge of freedom and autonomy is the human mind. Video games and virtuals worlds are just an extension of the human mind and a playground for our brains. What we choose to do with our leisure time and the places we choose to escape to with our minds is sacred to all humans. It’s about time video game designers realized this.