So, here I am, writing this post in one window, listening to my favorite Pandora station(based off of Two Steps From Hell), and playing the MoP beta on the other window. Man, the maintenance cannot be over soon enough. I mean, sure, I could be happy with the fact that I am experiencing the changes already, in addition to the new dungeons, raids, and a whole new continent. That's all true, but there is something hollow about it all, knowing that everything that I am putting into the beta experience will go away in less than a month from now, at most. Then I think: well, isn't that the case with my regular WoW experience?
Let's face it, although WoW has been going on a long time, and is likely to continue to plow on for years hence, there will come a time when either we get bored or just plain tired of the game, or the servers will go offline, for good. Either way, all the hours filled with frustration, elation, sweat or just boredom will, in the end, amount to nothing but memories, and even those will fade. What are we to say, then? Are we to conclude that this game is a waste, and we should get out while we are ahead?
This sort of existential crisis, realizing the finite-ness of things, then grappling with how to proceed, what meaning to discover or to add, what reasons to keep going, has long been a topic of philosophy. Of course, when they(the philosophers) talk about this they are referring to the finite nature of our lives, of the human species, of the universe itself, but I think we can bring this same process of thought, and perhaps their conclusions, to the game we love.
So, faced with the ultimate end of this in-game experience, what reason can we find to keep playing it? I won't pretend to know the answer to this question, but I have an answer that works for me, and it is the same answer that I apply to the same problem in context of my finite life. I believe that meaning, purpose are not derived from some final tally at the end, some final scorecard. Rather, I believe that we can find reason enough for what we do in the now, in the immediate experience of things. In other words, I am motivated to grind for the awesome Cloud Serpents because I will be able to ride them in the next expansion. There is no consideration of ultimate meanings here, no attempt to tally the final score. I will be content having the mount then, regardless of the fact that I will not be able to have it forever.
Meaning can simply be in a simple enjoyment of the present, of being content in the moment. It can also be in making a name for yourself, as it were, a memory that will go on further than the life of the game. This can be as simple as forming a close-knit group of friends in-game, who you play with in other games after WoW ends, or as complex as running a successful competitive raiding guild. Or, you can make your name blogging, as, obviously, I am attempting to do here, in addition to the hangouts.
This reminds me of Talia Joy Castellano, a very young girl who is dying of cancer. She knows that she is dying, that she will almost certainly never reach her 18th birthday, let alone her 15th. Yet, she does not despair, at least outwardly. She has become a whiz at makeup, and makes amazing YouTube videos. Facing the short time that she has left, instead of cashing out as it were, she has decided to make herself immortal, in a way. She is making sure she will live on in the people she inspires. Her courage alone in the face of her impending death(as a freaking 12 year old!) is enough to inspire myself to find meaning in my life, now, regardless of the length of it.
Now, obviously, the short lifespan of some pixels in a game is not comparable to the very short life of a courageous little girl, but I do think that there is a lesson that even us MMO gamers can learn from her. We can still find satisfaction in striving for those things that we want, even if we know that they will be short-lived. We can realize the very short time we have in this game and make the most of it, or even try to create connections, an identity that will transcend it, and will perhaps incarnate itself in other games. The eventual end of this game is not the end of the meaning, the fun that we can find in it.