This is my letter to you.
There are days when you inhabit my mind. When I wanted to explore, you took me to Atys in the The Saga of Ryzom. When I wanted to stay up all night hiding under the covers, you gave me F.E.A.R. When I needed romance, you gave me Final Fantasy. But you never quite go away.
You are the nagging feeling that takes over after a long day at work. You give me inspiration to relax, and yet, you give me pain. You’re everything that makes me think, laugh, hate and love all at the same time. You are my boredom, and you try and win me over.
Your presence will point me in the direction of something to do. However, the problem remains: Wherever you may take me, you invite yourself along. At first, it’s OK. You stay in the back of my mind, telling me I could always go and do something else, but eventually you come to light, and I have to do little things to make you go away.
Remember that time you took me to Atys? We were running around in no general direction admiring the beautiful landscape. Then, blood lust set in, so we found a comfortable spot and started to kill stuff.
“Your skill in magic has increased.” Once, twice, three times the yellow text flashed across my screen. We could have kept going, but that was all I could do. Over and over again my hands began to move in a pattern, hitting hotkeys. 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 … It became a dance: A dance of skills and effects. The clicking of the keyboard becomes a rhythm; to break the beat would be to lose the game. How much can we do before we run into a respawn? Can I go faster? Can I gain 20 skill levels in two hours? The same monotonous task, the same three buttons, and then the same creature became a self-imposed game of its own. I came to Atys to escape you, yet in the escape we crossed paths again.
No matter what, I return again and again. One day, I decided to go on an adventure to another land. For hours, I traveled through dangerous, unknown territory while trying to sneak to the distant Tryker lands. It was a fun adventure. I laughed, I smiled and I made light of all the times I died attempting to cross the path of a creature over 100 levels higher than me. But when I finally got to the other side, there was nothing there. I asked myself, “What do I do?” I turned to look into a pool of beautiful water. I opened the map and realized I could swim! I could swim across the water and find other beautiful places. Like a carrot on a stick, I gave myself something to keep me going.
But after a while, you took over. I couldn’t enter the world anymore without feeling your presence. My time in Atys had long since ended, yet when I think about my adventures there, you never come up.
Where will you lead me next? Perhaps I’ll give F.E.A.R. another shot. Maybe now I can play through the entire game without jumping out of my chair. Why don’t I give Final Fantasy VI an 11th chance? This time, I’ll try to get every character to their max level before I fight the last boss. In Oblivion, I’ll do all of the side quests before I even attempt the main quest line, but the next time I play I won’t do any side quests and see what the differences are.
In the end, no matter how much you try and torture me, I will win. No matter how much you enter my world, I can make you go away. It’s the little things that keep me going and the little things that make even the most tedious activities fun. Whatever frustration you may cause, something small can make me laugh, something small can happen to make me cry, something small will catch my interest yet again, and you’ll be lost … for a moment.
Whitney Butts is the “woman behind the curtain” at The Escapist. Her existence revolves around the fact that Mathematics is the key to the universe, and that she alone is the square root of all evil.