I was reading a thread on Usenet about pornography recently and it got me thinking. Firstly I was marvelling at the improbability of finding a thread about porn on the Internet, I mean, what are the chances? Shockingly, however, the discussion was at least attempting a sane and rational look at pornography and erotica, especially with respect to the strangeness that is sex as a fully-fledged industry. Admittedly it became progressively stranger, as Usenet threads are wont to do, until it veered wildly into considering what aliens would make of our sex industry if they visited the little pit of abasement at the end of the universe that we happen to call Earth. At such a point one can only surmise that the topic of tentacle porn would shortly follow, which is as good a Godwin's Law for porn threads as one is going to get, and hence your humble narrator left forthwith.
It did however, as I have already related, trigger a train of thought.
Pornography has been with us for quite some time, but it would seem safe to say that it is only in mankind's recent history that a true industry has sprung up around the luxuriant idea of sex as relief through performance and art. The basic premise is this: as mankind has advanced, sex has become less of a basic fundamental need for survival and more of an indulgence. With indulgence comes over-indulgence, and with over-indulgence comes abstinence and a desire to attain a more seemingly healthy balance. And here is where the porn industry steps in, for the desire is still there within many people although they do not wish to carry out their desires themselves, and thus they live out their fantasies through others, while they remain safely ensconced behind the protection of a glass screen and an 'off' button.
The thing is, it's not just related to the porn industry, and this is where I hope to drag this discourse, kicking and screaming, back on to the topic of MMOs. Firstly though, let's look at the food industry. Again, as mankind has advanced (and obviously this outlook is taken from a western world perspective) food has become less of a basic fundamental need for survival due to its abundance, and therefore has become more of an indulgence in certain areas of society. As the obvious signs of over-indulgence set in, with obesity and heart disease becoming far more prevalent than these societies could hope to counter, people start to enter the abstinence cycle and eat less, and more healthily. Here is where industry steps in, and what we have now is essentially porn for food lovers, with TV shows abounding with luxuriant foods, celebrity chefs travelling the world to indulge themselves in an orgy of gastronomic gangbangs, and adverts with hot, steamy puddings, naked from the oven and just begging to be covered in cream.
So what does this have to do with MMOs? Well, in recent times there have been numerous concerns relating to the amount of time indulged in MMOs. Many players themselves are starting to realise that the sheer scale of time that they devote to nothing more than a pixelated spreadsheet simulator is possibly unhealthy, perhaps bordering on clinical obsession. Is it long, therefore, before we enter the cycle of abstinence with respect to MMOs? Has it already begun? I believe it has. MMO porn thy name is Raids.
"Oh yeah, show me the epix baby, show me the epix."
The similarities are stark: bold, brash starlets are presented to the viewer, prostrating themselves on the bed of raid content as they display their epic assets, but peer behind the facade and more often than not one will glimpse the unhappiness, insecurity or personal sacrifice of the superstar raider. The top raiders are the porn stars of the MMO world, gazed upon with the hungering eyes of players who, despite desiring the epic image that these starlets portray, are secretly happy that they have not had to suffer the trials and degradation that these raiders have gone through to thrust themselves into the public eye. Instead, the average player will observe, sate their epic-itemed desires, and then return to the comfort and safety of an ordinary adventuring life.
So the next time that you see an MMO raider standing at the post-box in a major town, with their purple bits proffered for all to see, just remember that raiders, like porn stars, are people too.