You’ve probably read C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew. It’s Narnia’s creation myth. In it, a rather shabby magician, Digory’s Uncle Andrew, convinces him to be an experiment in order to rescue his friend, Polly, by going into what would soon become Narnia. There’s a scene in it that always struck me.
Andrew enters Narnia along with all the others, as Digory tricks the evil queen Jadis out of their world and into pre-creation Narnia. Jadis throws an iron bar at Aslan, and he shrugs it off. Where the bar fell, grew a lampost, which is the lampost Lucy meets Tumnus at thousands of years later in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe. Uncle Andrew upon seeing this begins to immediately think of how he can get rich by doing so, and plots to capture Narnia and grow battleships, etc.
The point of the scene to me is that no matter what new and magical world we are given to see, what we bring in will always shape how we see it. Later on Andrew self-deludes himself so much that he can’t even hear talking animals talk. What saddens me is that the same happens for MMOs.
No matter what new experiences virtual worlds can give, they will always be shaped by Uncle Andrew. They will be shaped by what we ourselves as human beings bring in. We bring in all the worst aspects of humanity-the beancounting, greed, mistrust, laziness, anger, faithlessness, and lust- and precious few of the good aspects.
I don’t follow Christianity, but there is something to be said about the idea of being “born again.” That some things are terminal and need the person to be wholly changed rather than just business as usual. I think so much of the dissatisfaction with MMOs is that for all the talk of virtual worlds, our own limits as people are what dissatisfy, not any real game quirk.