O.Z. refers to the ONLINE ZONE, one woman’s travels through the vast array of MMOs truly seeking to say, “Oh…there’s no place like home.”
On so many different levels, I liken my journey through MMO cyberspace to the movie “The Wizard of Oz”. I am Dorothy and have suddenly been whisked away to bright shiny new spaces in time with so many new, different and, at times, weird things assaulting my senses at every turn. I wander the virtual Yellow Brick Road seeking an online domicile for my wandering gamer’s (gamr’s?) heart, because there is NO place like home, after all.
But how do I find home? How do I find the time to find home? Every day there is another MMO release, another game clamoring for my attention, and in my position as a reviewer and journalist at the WarCry Network, I am asked to play all of them; to write of my impressions. Yet all I truly want to do is find ‘home’, a game that will capture my attention for a long while; a game that will transport me to that place complete with friends and safety. So I play. I look. I experience. I seek….and I write. This column will be my avenue to share my travels down the Yellow Brick Road.
But before I can jump into the inner workings of different games, the cast of characters for any title must be introduced: Community managers, development teams, fellow reviewers, fanbois/disgruntled complainers, and wandering vagabonds. Like the players in “The Wizard of Oz”, each has his or her place in the continuum of online gaming:
Community Managers: Yes, these are cheerleaders of the gaming universe. They are effervescent souls and are forever enthusiastically championing “their” game to the world. They look in askance at us when we inquire as to whether or not they know the true path ‘home’; whether or not this is the game to end all games. Rather, they simply pat us on our cyber backs and scoot us along the road to what they believe is ‘home’ – home only in the confines of their game.
Developers: These are the whiz kids of the industry, the geniuses behind the games we play, the literal “men (and women) behind the curtain”. Their zeal is infectious. They set their masterpieces before the world. They are tough on the outside, oozy gooey with passion about their games on the inside. Developers are rare beasts to be sure, carefully shepherded through the miasma of online journalism by the community managers.
Gaming Reviewers: I don’t know how anyone can honestly write a review, or at least write a scathing review of a game. After all, one man’s 2.0/10.00 is another man’s 9.0/10.00. Some reviewers take great delight in shredding games or leaving enough doubt about its ‘worthiness’ to cause hemorrhaging and long term death… but more on that in a bit.
Fanbois & Disgruntled Complainers: I’m sure these two groups would be horrified to find themselves lumped together but they are, after all, two sides of the same coin. Both groups tear into one another like the Flying Monkeys. One side rips the game as “the suXXor” while the other is “Care Bear” in their adoration. Both could, perhaps, benefit from a more balanced view of… life?
Fellow Gamers & Wandering Vagabonds: Yes, we’re there. In every game I’ve played, I’ve found kindred souls eventually, those perpetually LFG, stymied by embarrassment at not being an expert at a particular game, terrified of being called n00bs. We are all those who are seeking a ‘home’ in the gaming world, a time sink to fill the (small amounts) of time that we have to devote to gaming. We are the CASUAL GAMERS!
I have every intention of using this new column to look at the astounding variety of MMOs on the market today, both Free to Play and otherwise, and giving readers MY opinion of the game. I will never insinuate that everyone will feel as I do about one thing or another and I will always encourage folks to try for themselves. As I said, one (wo)man’s 2.0 is another (wo)man’s 9.0, right?
To that end, I leave you with my review concept. Stealing from another so-called kids’ movie, Ratatouille, I give you the words of the food critic Anton Ego. He says it ever so much better than I ever could:
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
But there are times when a critic truly risks something and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends.
Check back with us regularly – I’ve got my own link in the category toolbar (bottom left)! *winks*