Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Passing of Trackhoof

"Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:
‘Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?
Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?

For now I see the true old times are dead,
When every morning brought a noble chance,
And every chance brought out a noble knight.
Such times have been not since the light that led
The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.

But now the whole Round Table is dissolved
Which was an image of the mighty world,
And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds.’"

-- Tennyson; The Passing of Arthur, from Idylls of the King.

On waking up yesterday I learned that Trackhoof is no longer with us, at least in an in-game sense. I apologise for not having discovered this earlier, Track; I feel as though I was only just starting to really learn about you.

You did have a great and insightful writing style, which incorporated humour I think a bit more readily than I have really ever been able to do so. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that your ongoing presence will be sorely missed.

However, it also is understood that, as it is in real life, the eventual departure from a given game (or indeed, from gaming in general) is an inevitable, and in fact positive, part of every player's evolutionary cycle. Richard Bartle (the man who is arguably the father of this genre of games in a general sense) documented it when comparing the lifecycle of a game character with the archetype of the Hero's Journey.

It is the Ascension phase; that which the Avatar went through in the last game of the single-player Ultima series. It was depicted graphically and directly at the end of the first film in the Matrix series, where Neo hangs up the phone, takes one last look around himself, and then literally rises straight up into the sky.

Bartle describes it as a point where the individual player realises that for her, the game has fulfilled its' developmental purpose. Mastery (or near-mastery) of at least the relevant aspects of the game has been achieved, the in-game persona and external personality have been reconciled, integrated, and adopted where appropriate, and because there is nothing left for the individual within the game environment, departure has to occur in order to allow the individual to continue to evolve further.

So to consciously ask the question in my own case:- Am I there yet?

Truthfully, I would have to say no, not quite. Although there have been times where I've been able to feel that point coming closer; it's on this side of the horizon, so to speak.

I remember before leaving Jubei'Thos, when I was invited to a raid of the 20 man version of Ahn'Qiraj, and one or two of the more recent pvp raids, and I realised that not only did I know probably close to half a dozen of the individuals present on both occasions, (at least in passing) I had been the leader of the levelling guild in which two of them had spent a reasonable amount of their characters' development. There was, therefore, a sense of albeit reluctantly having become at least a peripheral member of the backbone group on that server.

I've spoken to a couple of individuals in the forum recently, however, Bandet and Alumatine, who have caused me to realise that, although I can see it happening reasonably soon, (at least in a PvE sense; I have no real interest any longer in PvP) the summit of my own developmental mountain, both in this game, and perhaps in MMORPGs in general, is some way off yet.

Given that Track was a member of the Horde, it is also perhaps appropriate that it reminds me of the final departure of the first Klingon Emperor, Kahless, at the end of that story. Like Arthur, he was not seen to physically die. He simply realised that the time had come, shouldered his weapon, quietly went out through the front gate of his capital, and walked off, into his people's history.

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