Friday, January 30, 2009


It's snowing outside, and I love how the neighborhood outside my window is encased in a soft layer of snow.  Everything is rounded and softened; the sharp lines of the stiff, tall Pittsburgh houses seem relaxed, just a little.  It's a time to be curled up in front of a fire, but I'm curled up in front of my computer, pillow for my back and afghan for my lap, cat at my feet.  In some ways the computer may have taken the place of the roaring fire that kept us warm through a cold night.  Or maybe it's more like being curled up with a book in front of a fire.

At any rate the weather outside is not the same as the weather in Azeroth where I'm currently questing in Stranglethorn Vale, a coastal rainforest where it regularly storms.  Right now it's pouring rain and difficult to see as I pick my way through thick brush, trying to avoid apes and panthers, tigers and pirates.  

This is both the beauty and the darkness of video games.  For a space of time you can separate yourself completely from whatever the weather is outside, or the situation.  I look up from time to time to watch the snow falling and admire the softness and beauty of it, then turn back to a hot, steaming jungle where the rain pounds just as it does in real life, and sounds just like it does in real life.   I am in a strange world where I'm not completely separated from the real world and its weather, but  mostly.  And I could let myself fall even more deeply into the imagined world if I could.  I could forget, for a moment, about the deep troubles our country is suffering from, I could forget that some of my friends are losing their jobs, that my son is having to donate blood and sell his belongings to pay his rent, that there's no amount of money I could send him that would help his life to be sustainable at this moment, that his chances of finding a job are almost zero at this precise moment.  Even though I had nightmares last night about my son, I can enter into Azeroth and put those nightmares aside for a moment, fight monsters that I actually can beat.  

Although the world Blizzard has created is astonishingly beautiful and horrifying and mimics life in many ways,  it is still romanticizes poverty and suffering.  No one has to give blood to pay their rent in Azeroth.  No one is selling their books and CDs and music equipment to buy food in Azeroth.  If you're poor in Azeroth you can always earn money by mining or selling herbs or equipment or potions you can make.  The only blood that's spilled is when you kill monsters or are killed yourself, and even then, no blood is ever shown on the screen.

My son's arm is bruised and swollen from the nurse who last took his blood.  There are never any bruises in Azeroth, never anything swollen.  In this world we don't want to be reminded of the wages of suffering.


  1. Very intriguing reflection Sheryl. Video games provide a safe escape for our minds...and isn't that where we live most of the time? So, even though it's cold, and we're are poor, and we sell ourselves to survive; the option of going somewhere else (virtual or not) relieves our suffering, even if it is temporary.

  2. I love your present reflection between two harsh worlds: one outside of your window and one in front of you on your computer screen. It's like the pain and difficulty we face physically in such "weather" (money, jobs, suffering)can only be truly conquered in our minds through the challenges of video games, reading, and writing.

  3. I want to hear you explore this thought more, that in video games you "fight monsters that (you) actually can beat."

  4. "Everything is soft and rounded." This is a great description of snow. I'd never really thought of it like that before.