Monday, February 8, 2010

Hope Is Hope, No Matter Where It Comes From

I'm going to step outside the realm of MMO's for a day here. I promise I'll try to tie it all in, but it's going to be a loose tie at best. 

I'm sure some of you watched the Super Bowl last night, and, if you did, I'm sure that the significance was similarly beat into your hear.  I'm going to go on record with a few things here.  First, I'm a Colts fan.  I live just north of Indy, so it makes sense.  I actually grew up a Bears fan, and am still very much a fan of all things Chicago, but it's hard not to like the Colts.  They have a very classy program, filled with classy players who, for the most part, keep their noses clean and play football.  That's more than a lot of NFL franchises can say nowadays. 

I'm also a Boilermaker.  I went to Purdue.  I lived and died with Drew Brees in the Rose Bowl.  He's another classy individual that does it "right".  Class shows.

Furthermore, I don't live under a rock.  I know that something happened down in New Orleans that had something to do with a real bitch named Katrina.  I might be fuzzy on the details, but apparently she really tore the place up.  (I'm not trying to make light of a tragedy, which it certainly is, but my point here is that while I wasn't directly affected by the storm, you don't have to go very far to have the effects broadcast into your home in full, stunning HD.  If you're human, on some level you're going to be effected, and I deal with tragedy via humor.  It's called a coping mechanism).  Having been to Bourbon Street, I'm not going to call New Orleans "classy" (I kid), but it is a city with a lot of soul.  It has history, tradition, and pride, like many cities.  Moreover, it's filled with people.  Living, breathing, hoping, dreaming people.  I may not speak a lick of Creole, but I can relate to people.  Especially people who have faced adversity.

So last night I watched a football game where one of my favorite teams went up against one of my favorite players, and then a couple tons of emotion were heaped on top by disaster cut scenes and the like, as the media loves to do.  I have to say, the only time I've felt more torn during a football game was when the Colts went up against the Bears a few years back, and every bar from Indy to Chi-town exploded with fights.  Who do you cheer for?    As a life-long Cubs fan, you have to feel a bit for the underdog-Saints.  As a human, how do you not enjoy the story of New Orleans?  As a Colts fan, you can appreciate the fact that Peyton Manning has strong ties to the city himself.  If the Colts weren't the other team in the Bowl, you'd better believe the lot of us would probably be crying "who dat" along with the rest of y'all.  Especially if it had been the Patriots.  Don't even get me started there (sorry New England).

The long and the short of it here is that after the final second ticked off that clock and the party started down in the French Quarter, I thought to myself "well, losing this one wasn't so bad."  Losing still sucks, don't get me wrong.  No one likes to lose.  But if you lose to another classy group of folks with a great story to boot, it makes it a lot easier to swallow.  And the Saints are a team it's easy to be happy for.  Like the Colts, they do it right.  Class shows.   Even for the ultra-competitive person, like me, sometimes losing isn't all that bad.

So what's the tie-in here, however loose it may be?  Well, as gamers and patrons of MMORPGs, we love a good story, and this was a great story.  And it was sports.  There's one thing I find myself saying to a lot of friends who don't understand gaming: "It's not all that different from sports". 

I'm a sports nerd, and I'm a video game nerd.  Those cultures generally don't mix.  I coach football and I lead raids.  On the surface, those would seem so different, but they're really not.  Raiding is a team sport just as much as football is.  Hardcore gamers spend hours upon hours researching stats and strategies, so do hardcore sports folks.  Sports are socially acceptable to waste time on, yet games are still struggling to gain that main stream acceptance.  Tell someone you spent a few hours in a fantasy draft last night and they'll probably ask you who you picked without blinking.  Tell them you spent a couple hours raiding last night and they'll wonder if they shouldn't be thinking about an intervention.  Yet the cultures really aren't that different.

As such, I find that a lot of the same feelings translate easily into both realms.  The feeling of victory when downing a difficult boss is the same high as taking the field on Friday night and outplaying a tough opponent.  The feeling of disappointment and loss when someone in your guild leaves isn't all that dissimilar from watching you favorite player get traded away, or a kid on the team you coach deciding the team isn't for him.  Sometimes we have more control, sometimes we have less, but the feelings are the same.  They're human. 

As I was returning home from the Super Bowl party I attended last night, thinking "losing this one wasn't so bad", it actually brought to mind a bunch of other times I'd lost in my life.  I mean, isn't that how it always works?  We remember the tough loses more clearly than the wins?  Failures more poignant than successes?  I was surprised, then, to dwell not only on my numerous personal sports memories, but also memories of gaming.  They were all intertwined in me, having the same base feelings.

There's a loose tie there, but it's a tie nonetheless.  Feelings are feelings, and taking hope from a football team winning the Super Bowl is no sillier than getting the same hope from running in a huge, pixelated group to a rooftop in Booty Bay.  Raiding for the Cure might not be the WoW equivalent of the Super Bowl, but the feelings of hope we get from our time spent together in game are real just the same.  Football is "just a game" too.  Good stories are good stories. 

Next time someone criticizes your gaming habits, wondering why you are willing to set time aside for something as silly as gaming, ask them if they watched the Super Bowl.  Gamers and Jocks aren't all that different after all.  We're all human, and at the very base of both MMOs and Sports is the human factor.  Sports are games too, just played with a different controller.

Congratulations to the City of New Orleans and Saints fans everywhere on a well-earned victory. Speaking as a Colts fan and an avid gamer: GG.


  1. Great article. I, at times, felt like you were discribing my life. I have many friends from both my gaming side and my sports side that don't see why I have the interest in the other. Good to read that I am not alone in liking both and seeing that they are similiar.

  2. Thanks guys. It's sometime eerily similar the issues from one to the other.

  3. Another sports fan *and* gamer? Say it ain't so!

    I'm a Colts fan as well, but I couldn't help rooting for the Saints on Sunday. It's empowering to see a town and a nation rally behind something that really does bring hope to those still struggling to rebuild their lives!

  4. I am glad that somebody out there shares my opinions on the sports/gaming thing. I live 2 hrs away from Indy and I have been a Colts fan since 96 and I have cried every time NE killed them off. But, NO just played a hell of a game on Sunday and they deserve the win. Right after the game, I logged in to do some dailies and do VoA25 then went to bed. All in all, not a bad way to end a night.