Shoot Club

Veteran game writer Tom Chick continues his gritty exploration of the videogame lifestyle at The Escapist. Shoot Club features an unnamed protagonist as he plays games.

Shoot Club

"What's the big deal?" Trevor said. "Would you rather have a blackout at a bar, or a party? I had no idea you were trashed. You just seemed like you were in a good mood. You kept running around offering to help people, and giving them stuff. You gave that little kid all the potions you'd made. You gave that guy in Bree all your money. That guy trying to learn how to play his lute."

"I gave someone all my money?"

Shoot Club

I'm talking about the game for about five minutes before I realize how absurd it is to explain an MMO to someone on the outside. I should have just said 'It's like World of Warcraft' and left it at that.

"I don't know," I conclude. "I don't know. It's just been a lot of fun. I can't really understand why I like it so much, but I do. I'm spending far more time playing than I need to for this review."

"Is it because you feel you don't have control over your own life, so it's easier to live in a world where you do have control? A world where things are easier to understand?"

Yes.

Shoot Club

It's going to be a weird Shoot Club this week. The only thing I've been playing lately is Lord of the Rings Online. And now we're going to play shooters like Call of Duty 2 and RTSs like Command & Conquer 3 and maybe even some Guitar Hero again. It feels like it's been a long time. That's what an MMO does. It kills other games.

Trevor has arrived before everyone else, as usual. He's looking at me, waiting for a reaction.

"Is it too much?" he asks.

"It's, well, yeah. It's probably too much."

Shoot Club

The first day of Lord of the Rings Online is chaotic. It's us newcomers with the beta testers who are running around with their 15th level characters. Apparently, they all got a head start before the game went live. The rest of us are left to our own devices, trying to figure out what's what. 'Where is the hunting lodge?' we ask in the Advice channel. 'Why can't I equip a bow?' 'What does +10% morale mean?' The OOC channel is clogged with 'Is this better than WoW?' every three minutes, which starts a recurring series of overlapping arguments, like choruses of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat'.

Shoot Club

I shouldn't be here. I don't get MMOs. They bounce off me entirely, some more quickly than others. But they all bounce. Static worlds. Characters advancing in drips and drabs. Dumb kids running amok tapping their space bars with their thumbs. Watching icons on task bars cool down. Waiting for Mike to sell his junk and catch up with us. Knowing it all leads to the personal hell of being a cog in some jerk's organized raid.

"Twenty-nine," Trevor says. "Check out that hobbit's hat. Gay."

Shoot Club

We all look at him. It's an important question. If you're on a 747 and someone has to take the controls so the tower can talk him down, you're going to want it to be someone who inverts his mouse. Trevor calls it the One True Mouse. Wars have been fought over it. Well, skirmishes, at any rate. Deathmatches, too. And CTF.

Shoot Club

I write about games. You obviously read about games, or you wouldn't be here. So you and me, we kind of know each other. We have a relationship. I can tell you about Shoot Club. You would understand.

Shoot Club

My friend Trevor was putting on his coat.

"Are you OK to drive?" I asked.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," he said, waving his hand.
"No, really." I put my hand to his shoulder as he tried to walk past me, out the front door. "Are you OK to drive?"
"I think so."
"How much have you ... you know ...?"
He thought for a second. "I dunno. Maybe five or six?"

I gave him a look.

Shoot Club

It's his first night at Shoot Club. He'll be known as the new guy for a few weeks. That's assuming he makes it through a few weeks. Then he'll get a nickname, or he'll be stuck with his own name because no one could think of a nickname that sticks. But mostly, who you are at Shoot Club is not who you are in the rest of the world. I introduce him to everyone.

"Why are all the lights off?" he asks.