166: Achilles' Phat Lewtz

Achilles' Phat Lewtz

"The mixture of pride, relief and anticipation tied to the lengthy pursuit of an imaginary object is something that players of MMOG's (and, truth to tell, several other kinds of videogames) know very well. But it isn't something that came into existence with the current crop of MMORPG's and their highly developed grinding and loot mechanics, nor even with paper-and-dice RPG's and the Vorpal Swords that lurked in the pages of the Dungeon Master's Guide. The feeling is probably as old as storytelling itself, but its first obvious appearance in Western Civilization is in Homer's Iliad."

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Good to see the Lattimore translation getting quoted instead of Fagles.

The Iliad is a great book for countless reasons, but one of them is how maleable and timeless the characters are in terms of communicating concepts. You can use it to illustrate human frailty or perseverance, depending on what you need. Like Achilles' shield, everything is in there.

I remember in class years ago I gave a presentation comparing it to an elaborate football game and explaining to people who were the bench warmers and who were the star players. It's great that it works just as well for video games.

Great article! I very much enjoyed it b/c I hadn't thought about The Iliad that way until you had mentioned it. Very cool link of past to present.

Love this article! It does make one think of games (and Homer!) in a different light now :)

Good article. Very interesting read.

I dare you to find another site on the Internet that features and article comparing the Illiad with a MMORPG.

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THIS! IS! THE ESCAPIST!

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Sorry, couldn't resist.

You left out that the Greeks often engaged in friendly PvP in between battles ;)

Interesting comparison, and highly appealing to my inner elitist literature geek. Also nice that it makes MMO players look more educated, or at least on the same level as the rest of the world. We all want the epic lootz, our loot is just shinier and have cooler names. And it's y'know... fictional.

Somewhat unrelated: That yellow background color really punished my eyes. I know you are probably not the one responsible but whoever was, please don't do that again.

Good read. It's nice to learn some history in a way you actually understand.

Snap, only just watched Troy yesterday. Ok, maybe its not the best portrayal of Homer's Iliad... but its nice to see the story, and see Achilles being as bad ass as he is.

More articles like this! Full marks! :-)

This article was hilarious, and a great new way to look at Homeric epics that I'd never really thought about before :)

All I could think of was the inevitable comparison to Helen being the "e-ho who launched a thousand guild drama posters". heh.

Nice read. I studied Classical Greek in high school as my second language (don't ask) and found the Iliad to be very relevant to what you're talking about. There's a lot to be said about the perception of excellence, but also of the idea of heroism achievements as well. Achievement systems in MMOs, such as the robust system in WAR's Tome of Knowledge or WoW's upcoming achievements idea, are at the core of the appeal of getting that "phat lewt". The gear you have is not just a marker of excellence, it's also the visual marker of your progression of achievement in your game of choice. PvE raiding in WoW, with its tiered sets, appeals to this need better than any MMO so far, regardless of your opinion of the game.

To the Greeks, conquering Troy became more than just a matter of regaining Agamemmnon's honor. It became a goal to an end, a way to tell the world "we did this", or in better terms for the article, "we pwnz0red u in PvP, QQ more nubs" XD

I'm a Classics student, and I'll be damned if I'm not gonna bring this up the next time it come back. I'll lean back, chill, and be like "The Iliad and video games have a lot in common." I'm pretty sure my professor's head will implode.

Chariots a ridiculous anachronism? As far I can remember, chariots were most certainly used in Greek warfare during the period when the Trojan War would have occurred (13th century BCE or thereabouts), and they weren't completely out of favour during the 9th/8th centuries BCE, when the Iliad is often assumed to have been written.

Speaking of connections between past and present, perhaps a psychology student should write a piece about how MMORPGs force players to regress into tribal, combative, semi-literate, honour-bound barbarism; and as such is undoing 2000 years of civilisation? :-)

Huh, interesting coincidence. I'm reading the Iliad right now.

This is certainly a new way of looking at it; I think, however, actually fighting a ten-year long war and taking the armour of a man you killed by your own doing is probably a better display of might than a wicked sword in WoW.

I loved this article. Only at The Escapist do you see humor, classical culture and video games brought together in a way that brings fresh insight to the medium.

This is like being amazed that the subject of a portrait resembles said portrait.

Of course you see all of these things that remind you of RPG mechanics. Those mechanics were created to simulate all of the events and elements from classic fantasy and adventure literature. The point of RPGs is to make you feel as if you are participating in one of these epic stories. Basically, you've got it backwards. The Illiad doesn't remind you of RPGs, RPGs remind you of the Illiad.

Breck:
This is like being amazed that the subject of a portrait resembles said portrait.

Of course you see all of these things that remind you of RPG mechanics. Those mechanics were created to simulate all of the events and elements from classic fantasy and adventure literature. The point of RPGs is to make you feel as if you are participating in one of these epic stories. Basically, you've got it backwards. The Illiad doesn't remind you of RPGs, RPGs remind you of the Illiad.

QFT

After all, modern fantasy is in many ways based on Tolkien, and which sources did Tolkien use for inspiration? Old myths and sagas. The connection is fairly direct.

Props. Go Achaeans!

 

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