I really didn’t want to write this post.
I debated it throughout the evening. But finally, I decided that I just needed to sit down and write it.
So here I sit.
I didn’t want to write this post because I really wanted to play a video game called Mass Effect 3.
I played the first Mass Effect game in the summer of 2008, Mass Effect 2 in January of 2010, and I just started this one earlier this week. I’ve totally loved every Mass Effect game. You can check out some of the reasons why I love the series in a post I wrote about Mass Effect 2, here.
For the purposes of this post, all you need to know is that the series is uniquely powerful because you make significant choices about the story that carry over through all three games. Because of the choices I’ve made in the game, I care incredibly about each of the characters and what will happen to them. So I’m dying to find free time to play it and see.
This isn’t the only time that I’ve been wowed by a game experience.
In fact, probably the biggest “wow” feeling I’ve experienced in a game was when I played WoW for the first time – World of Warcraft.
Even though I’ve mentioned WoW in other places, I’ve never really talked about the specifics of the game and why I loved it so much. So I’d like to describe my first experience with that eight-year-old game and what we can learn from it.
A junior at SPU, I lived in the residence hall as a Peer Advisor, a mentor/resident assistant, on a floor with 45 other guys. While living on 5th Hill, I had a few friends who bought WoW. They told me how incredible it was, and that I would love it. They were probably right, but my life was busy, and I didn’t think that I had the time to try it out. I actually told one of my friends that if the game were even installed on my computer, it could be dangerous for my grades…
One day I came back to my room from lunch to find that same friend sitting at my computer. My eyes saw an open computer game box on my desk, and then they moved to the computer screen. The World of Warcraft installation menu was on the display. I literally yelled “Noooo!” across the room while my friends laughed. After kicking the guys out of my room, a voice inside me spoke, “Maybe I should just create a character and see what the game is like.”
And thus began my journey into the World of Warcraft.
I created a dwarf hunter who fought for the Alliance and was from a snowy valley near the mountain city of Ironforge. Later that day, I had finally left my valley home and trained a snow leopard to be my pet. I finally had enough skill to travel to the dwarven capital, Ironforge.
My jaw hung open for that entire day.
The world I had entered into was enormous. After playing for eight hours on a Sunday afternoon, I had explored about a third of one region. The eastern island had about 25 regions. The world had a western island with about just as many, and then were two other large islands that had roughly 10 more regions apiece.
70 regions. I had spent eight hours in part of one.
Adding even more layers of complexity, each region was either controlled by the Alliance or the Horde. Many of the regions had cities that were developed by specific races, like dwarves, night elves, humans, or orcs.
The world of Azeroth (WoW’s world) was a giant, complex world, filled with a myriad of developed cultures, economies, transportation systems, geographical complexities, monsters, and thousands of real players trying to explore it.
This was a world that millions of players could spend hundreds of hours exploring and still not experience all the game had to offer. It was simply unparalleled in its day.
I was astounded to consider that the people at Blizzard constructed that world, that anybody could have created it. It felt so real. So massive. So alive.
I remember driving to the panhandle of Alaska and into British Colombia in 2006. The scenery reminded me of scenery in WoW. It was so crazy to me that real life would remind me of a video game instead of the other way around.
Along with my inspiration from the Harry Potter books, World of Warcraft was the second biggest motivating factor in starting my novel. I was captivated by the world Blizzard had created, and I wanted to create a world that people would want to inhabit the same way.
For those who criticize the game by saying it’s an escape from real life, I would agree to the extent that it’s no more an escape than the world of Hogwarts, Middle Earth, or a galaxy far, far away. The way I see it, each of these fictional worlds point us to a greater truth.
I’m fascinated to see the innate desire within us to create. Something almost transcendent happens when we create. It’s life-giving. Creativity refreshes your soul.
This is because God is creative. He takes joy in creating unique people in a world uniquely crafted for us out of the entire universe. When we create new worlds, whether with words, film, paint, or coding, we do what our Creator did. We catch a glimpse of the joy God has when he sees us.
If we find such joy in experiencing a newly created video game, imagine how excited God must be as each person is born. For all the complexity that modern video games display, a single human baby has more complexity still. And God knit us together, piece by piece.
My challenge for you today is to create something. Anything. Then be brave and share it. The world will be better for it. I daresay we’ll see more of God’s character.
What creations have been particularly inspiring to you? What have you been itching to create?