Monday, July 16, 2012

What MMOs Can Do For Your Writing

The sun was shinning and the temperatures in Ontario weren't too hot to enjoy the days of summer, but I found myself glued to my computer for an online summer camp fire that was put on by Marketing for Romance Writers (MFRW)

The online conference or "camp fire" featured 12-hours of author chats on marketing, how to use social medias like Twitter and Triberr,  how to create believable paranormal creatures, to how to conduct interviews among just a few of the great topics.

One specifically caught my eye - "Role Playing Your Way to Good Scenes: What Playing MMO Can Do For Your Writing" presented by Janet Elizabeth Jones.

Now before the presentation, I had no idea what a MMO was and my last shot as a "gamer" was back playing Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis. Truthfully, I had a little stint where I was obsessed Rock Band and the drums, but that didn't help my writing.

For those new to online role playing, MMORPG stands for Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game, or MMO for short. These are virtual games that create characters and worlds. I did some research on my own to learn that "Guild Wars" is one of the more popular games, and apparently the second edition is coming out later this summer.

From Janet Elizabeth Jones' handout, "MMOs are immersive by nature, but immersive fiction like Guild Wars is especially helpful to writers. It has an enormous, beautiful world, an epic soundtrack, and a strong and unforgettable storyline, in which players are the long-awaited and much-hoped-for heroes and heroines who will save the world. There is an underlying ethic of honor, courage and tolerance, and a great deal of humor."

When the presentation began, I was wondering if there were a lot of writers that knew about MMOs and played them and there was a group that had been using Guild Wars specifically to help with get the creative juices flowing, while there was another group that were just like me - in the dark. I was shocked by how many writers/authors spend their free time playing MMOs, but they all stressed how it had benefits for their writing.

Jones outlined how MMOs can actually help writing with two major components:
1. World-building - every race has its own rich culture with ancient religions, history, deep lore that is "detailed and believable". This is the type of world-building that authors strive to create and present to our readers.

2. Characterization - each character has their own story arc, included with goals, motivation and conflict, which are the building blocks of writing good fiction. As you spend time with your character, apparently you come to build feelings for them - whether you like or hate them, or laugh and cry with them as the events of their game story unfold. 

After the presentation, I checked out YouTube and found some awesome videos and I can see what the buzz is all about. The animation is beautiful from the settings to the characters. I've included a YouTube Link and it looks amazing!
I have yet to play, but I have checked out how to play for the 14 day trial, but I'm going to wait until I finish my first pass of revisions just in case I get lost in the world. The link to the free trial page of Guild Wars: The link to the Guild Wars main page:


Maureen said...

I followed along the fringe of that summercamp and wow...tons of useful information. The time zone thing caught me so I was behind every topic, but I still followed along.

I tend to have an obsessive taint and fear a good MMO would swallow every bit of free time I have...

Erin Kane Spock said...

I play World of Warcraft. Last summer it was my main source of procrastination. This summer I've had better self control. I do connect to my main (I have 10 characters, but my druid is my primary).
I don't remember who wrote it, but awhile back there was an online discussion about mmorpgs being a new form of literature. I agreed on some levels. World building complete with history, legends, laws, beliefs and traditions -- playing can be a rich experience if you let it.

E.B. Black said...

I've played both Guild Wars and World of Warcraft extensively. It does have amazing world-building and storytelling. The writers for those games are amazing, BUT the detriments playing these games give writing far outweigh the benefits. They are very demanding on one's time and get in the way of writing. I doubt I can ever play one of those games again and still keep up with my writing.

Unknown said...

I've been playing MMOs since 2001, and I can say without a doubt they are the most inspiring tool I have for creativity. I am never more prolific than when I am playing an MMO, and even moreso if I'm roleplaying in it. I can generate pages and pages of story effortlessly, and I don't even have to spend much time playing the game to do it. Sometimes the mere creation of a character is enough to bring forth a huge amount of material. If I could draw as well as I write, I could generate even MORE, because I can see scenes so clearly in my head.

A couple hours of game a week can spawn a multitude of stories and ideas. It's so worth it for me, especially because the games I play (City of Heroes and Lord of the Rings Online) are both free to play.

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