Could a techno-magical item in an online computer game be a sign of personal growth in real life?
At level 70 in WoW, players unlock the ability to ride flying critters (for a substantial training sum of 800 gold pieces). At this point, a player will usually spend an extra hundred gold to buy a flying mount, but engineer characters may build their own. (Unless one’s second profession is mining, one’s going to spend much more than a hundred gold on the necessary materials.)
There’s a single part to the flying machine that my miner/engineer didn’t know how to make on her own, and it’s only taught by one NPC – who would teach her the blueprint if she achieved “Revered” diplomatic status with his organization of dimension-hopping smugglers. The good news is that she could gain 250 reputation points every time she turned in 10 certain emblems that certain slain enemies would drop 33%-50% of the time. The bad news? She needed about 18,000 reputation points to reach Revered.
The good news is that in the process, my engineer looted enough gold to pay for the flying training. In fact, about 14,000 points in, she had enough to just go and buy the griffon flying mount. But, despite temptation, I didn’t do so. Enough of the enemy characters had died to populate a small village by this point, and the whole thing had become fairly tedious, but I’d started this job, and something inside me wouldn’t take the easy route. I dug in my heels, and little Mirandala collected another 160 emblems.
Now, Mir has her Gnomish Flying Machine (a magical steampunk rattletrap in which the engine misses a few cycles every five minutes or so). And, funnily enough, I’m proud of myself. Sure, it was only a game; but I find it easy to fall into the trap of procrastinating about things, taking shortcuts where offered, or being distracted by shiny things that catch my attention. Here, I chose a task and stuck to it, and now I have something different than the griffon buyers do. Not too shabby.
(Yes, I did much other cool stuff this weekend, including a good party and some general housecleaning. It really is still just a game.)