October 2nd, 2021

meow, cat, Siamese, catty

The Flight Controversy

I'm old enough to remember the excitement of the old Atari Adventure game. By modern standards, the graphics were incredibly primitive: your player character was a square, the sword looked like an arrow, and the dragons looked more like cartoon ducks. But it allowed you to explore a set of dungeons with rooms and mazes, to pick up and otherwise manipulate multiple objects, and fight enemies.

Over the decades since Adventure, games have grown by leaps and bounds in their complexity, both in terms of graphics and gameplay. While they aren't yet to the level of the game in the beginning of my novelette Phoenix in the Machine, they still offer immersive experiences in imagined worlds, with sophisticated graphics and actual interactions with computer-run non-player characters -- and in Internet-based games, interaction with other players, something that wasn't possible in the early generations of console games.

As these games have grown in complexity, new functions have been made available, including means of travel that allow players to avoid a lot of the "grinding" that had been an issue with many of the early massively-multiplayer online role-playing games. However, the introduction of various methods of flight, from magical mounts to flying carpets, has led to a considerable amount of controversy in the gaming community. While some players like the idea of a legitimate way around the tedium that had previously led wealthy players to farm their characters out to people who made a living doing those "level grind" hours of play, others feel that making flight available to player characters doesn't just allow them to jump over the trudge across the landscape, but also reduces the amount of player interaction that was a feature of MMORPG's, as opposed to single-player games.