Tuesday, August 02, 2005

ragnarok and roll

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One of the coolest projects we're doing this year is a series of books for Ragnarok, the MMORPG game that has taken the Philippines by storm - plus a number of other secret projects for other great online games held by Level Up! (exclamation point theirs, though it is really all very exciting).

As an old school RPGer myself, I am amazed and delighted at the sense of community fostered by these games. You can walk into any internet cafe and find players, ages 10 - 40, communicating with their guildmates, party members and compatriots in other places across the country. I am also floored by how the mass market has embraced the game - and the very concept of online gaming (with internet play cards as low as P10 for a few hours, few cannot afford it). When you venture into the online worlds, maps and agits hosted by various servers with names like Chaos, Fenrir, Loki and Isis you'll find sprite avatars talking in Filipino as they form adventuring companies to bash beasties and get more powerful - who needs English? With Level Up! making big efforts to balance the desire of people to play forever (via their Ragna Cum Laude and other programs), Ragnarok offers an alternative to mindless TV viewing (or, as I channel my mother, "drugs" LOL).

It has become an escape, a fantastic escape in the sense of "fantasy", for a horde of players (and it is a huge number, giving Level Up! commensurate earnings last year) - and fantasy is (nearly) always good with me (yes, even "Mulawin", which enraptured Sage for a while).

In the end, what matters to me is that imagination is given expression. I believe in games, I really do. They've helped my mind grow by extending my reach beyond the visible boundaries of everyday life, beyond what I can see, beyond where I am. They have triggered stories and plays that I've written down, published, won awards or became animated reality. Everyone should play a few board games or card games or online games. Get with the program.

Games are cool. Which is why helping the people who make games fun and accessible to more people is a no-brainer.

And, of course, I get to play everything for free.


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