Posted by pw3997 on March 10, 2010
This report focus on aspects of wilderness present within an online game called Maplestory. Maplestory is a massive multi-player online RPG that incorporates online social elements with vast single player experience such as questing, and hunting. Through this vast online virtual world, many aspects of the game coincide with the concepts of wilderness which have discussed during the lecture. In particular, the analysis will focus on the comparison between the classicists’ stance and the romantists’ stance within this game. Having an understanding of the meaning and definition of wilderness and by harnessing the examples provided by the game, these knowledge and examples will paint an image which reflecting the relationship and interaction between human beings and their environment.
Starting by examining the underlying game mechanics, game play elements and background stories which are essential for understanding the analysis presented in the rest of this report. Maple Story is a massive multiplayer RPG game that allows many people to play the game concurrently and interactively online. The game has 2D artistic design with the player controlling an avatar with different selection of skills available based upon the class selected at the beginning of the game. The player will travel from town to town and from map to map in order to complete quests, or kill monsters along the way and through the completion of quest, or killing the monsters the players will gain experience point and the accumulation of these point will eventually lead to advancement of the avatar granting access to more skills and powers. However, even though advancement of the character constitutes a large portion of the game, the various levels of maps, environments and fields of the game are often ignored by the players. Therefore it is the main aspect of focus for this writing to discuss some of the important concepts of nature, specifically the classicists and the romantist views of wilderness and how these concepts are incorporated into this game.
There are various classicists’ ideas within Maplestory such as the notion of wilderness as something to be feared. Within the Maplestory universe, players are often requested by in game NPC to eliminate certain group of monsters that are terrorizing the town or city. Furthermore, in order to travel between certain towns, players must have means, such as higher level skills, to defend themselves. As a result, the game portrays the nature and wilderness of the virtual world as a threat to the players. Another classists’ point-of-view mentioned during the lecture is the perception of human conquering nature as a symbol or progress and advancement and self fulfillment. As a main part of the game, the player defeats monsters, earning experiment point which will in term strengthen his/her character giving access to more skills or powers. For certain classes within the game, it is a part of the story for the character to eliminate the monsters. In this context, defeating the monsters is like taming nature while doing so results in the progression of self and overall human development. However, one conflict to be noted is that the idea of self progression and improvement is similar in nature to romantists idea of spiritual regeneration which is often associated with the uncovering hidden talents and is parallel to the idea of gaining a new skill within the game.
Following this train of thought, let’s examines the Romanists’ beliefs present within the game. Romantists believes in the idea of a past ‘Golden Age’ in which the natural world was untouched by human beings. Such a place exists within the virtual world of Maplestory; the town of Ellinia located within a giant-like forest inhabited by Fairies is the town of the Magicians where virtually all of the houses are tree houses which blends in as a part of the environment. Even though there are still human presences in the area, there are scarce amount of impact made by human cultural and social influence. Therefore, Ellinia can be considered as an example of the Golden Age sought after by Romantists who admires the beauty of wilderness for the entire town is composed of all natural parts. Furthermore, the fairies, which live peacefully with nature, are great examples of the term ‘Noble Savage’ coined by short in his book ‘Imagined Country’. Lastly, the Romanists hold the view that modern town and cities is a fall from the graceful Golden Age as a result of human corruption. There are also locations within the game which the shows the extensive human interaction with and modification of the natural environment such as the industrialized town of Kerning City.
Overall the game presented the players with examples from both the Classical and Romanist stances of wilderness. Through analyzing the game, one can easy gain a visual example of the concepts of each of the views, classical or romantists. Therefore, one will be able to use the information provided by the analysis of the game to further characterize the interaction between human beings and nature.