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Higher and Standard Grade English Tips
World of Warcraft
In this article, journalist Allen Rausch writes about his interest in the computer game World of Warcraft for an online magazine.
There are more people playing World of Warcraft in the U.S. today (two million) than had indoor plumbing 100 years ago. There are more people with blogs today (31 million) than had internet connections ten years ago. If you don't know what an "MMORPG" is, don't worry. It's a geek term, like "e-mail" used to be a geek term. For now let's just say it's the most instantly gripping, involving and demanding entertainment technology ever invented. There are 10 million MMORPG users in the world and their population is doubling every two years.
It's an infection, it's a tsunami, it's a volcanic eruption. All at the same time, waiting, like a nest of plague-infested rats next to a ticking hydrogen bomb in an underwater volcano. Or something. What I'm trying to say is, it's The Next Big Thing.
Some of what you're about to read will sound like science fiction. You'll be tempted to dismiss me along with those who for decades have been predicting sentient robot maids and hotels on the moon. But for every delayed technology there is another sudden, completely unexpected advance that jumps us from the shadows. For instance, none of the illustrations used in the article below were done with human hands. Each was rendered automatically by a remarkable piece of software called Nedroid, which can scan any piece of text, "read" it for comprehension and, incredibly, render artwork to match the context. Did you even know that was possible before now? Truly, this morning's science fiction is this afternoon's science not-fiction.
So where will MMORPGs will take us? If you don't understand the gravitational pull of an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), I'm going to enlighten you with just a dozen words: you get to pick what you look like and what your talents are.
That's the real beauty of it. The first thing you do in the MMORPG World of Warcraft is design your own body and decide what your strengths will be. You pick your race. What could be more seductive than that, the ability to turn in all of the cards you were dealt at birth and draw new ones from a face-up deck? If you have friends who've gotten sucked into the WoW black hole and you don't understand why they never talk to you any more, this is it. I remember being a chubby teenager with bad skin and astigmatism and pants that didn't fit quite right. What would I have given to be reborn as a strapping warrior with rippling pecs and armor of hammered silver?
On that kid's screen now is a dozen noble warriors of exotic races, brandishing elaborate weapons and charging a gigantic demon across a fire-scarred mountaintop. The dwarf next to him is controlled by an accountant planted at his own computer in Cleveland, two babies sleeping in the next room and his pregnant wife on the sofa. The robed priest in the back casting healing spells is actually a 250-lb. ex-gangster, playing from the computer lab of a maximum security prison in Pennsylvania. The elf on his left, sprinting and drawing his mighty magical bow, is the digital body of a wheelchair-bound 12 year-old girl in Miami.
The rise of the metaverse will go almost completely unopposed. You won't have to trick people into jacking themselves into this one. It legitimately makes their lives better. Everything we've done as a civilization from the caves until now has been about making a better world. Well, the metaverse will just be a shortcut, won't it? We'll have our Utopia of unlimited wealth and friction-free homogeny.
Population growth will be kept easily under control, since most sexual partners will live separately. To have an actual baby will take so much effort and planning that only those who really want one will get one. That would have to be a change for the better, right?
The people are ripe for it. You've heard stories about how ticket sales are plummeting at movie theatres, in favour of home DVD viewing. Why? Why do so many people want to work from home now? Because we're sick of having to sit with other people. We want that extra layer of control that meat interaction will never give us. We want a world without the unpredictability of real, unrestrained humanity.
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