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State of the Union: Claude Monet and Arthas walk into a bar...
by Greg Mengel
Greg Mengel takes his own personal perspective on games and gaming culture in his column, State of the Union. State of the Union is published twice monthly on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

Somewhere in the US state of Minnesota, while driving from point A to point B on my latest business trip and deciding whether to succumb to the pressures of responsibility by thinking about my upcoming move (from rural Montana to the larger, more metropolitan city of Denver), or to drown out those guilty voices with the numbing soma of American conservative talk radio, I realised that in the midst of this anarchy, I’d left myself no time to craft out a new State of the Union for Gamers Guide to Life. My thoughts on this forgetful line of events can be summed up by one of the most powerful, and yet not overly insulting, expletives found in the dictionary today: balls. Balls, balls, balls. I apologise – getting caught up was my bad completely. Balls.

That forgetfulness addressed, I’m not going to let any readers turn away from the site empty handed if they came expecting their bi-weekly State of the Union address. That's not how I roll. So instead of discussing a long, mulled-over thought/theory on the gaming cosmoverse with you as I have usually, I’m going to share a bit of news that a few of you may have already heard from other sites. As of this last week, an imaginative designer by the name of Eskil Steenberg has released a massive multiplayer game based on love, cooperation, and the blurry artistic stylings of of long-dead impressionist Frenchman, Claude Monet. Interested? Intrigued? Hoping to be impressed? Me too.

The game, Love, is appropriately named, as it is a rare MMORPG in which killing ten thousand boars will give you absolutely no experience points, and in which players are encouraged to work together to accomplish myriad goals. According to an interview with Stephen Totilo of Kotaku, Steenberg does not believe in levels. He thinks they muck up the entire cooperative nature of multiplayer design systems. “My goal [in Love],” Steenberg stated, “is not to make you more powerful than other people.” A big fan of group interaction and constructive cooperative play, he told Totilo that if you allow players to acquire a progression of levels “…then people start caring about themselves.” Once ego gets involved, any chance for meaningful interaction with other human players gets threatened.

I’ve got to admit, there’s something to that. Having played World of Warcraft with others for more than five minutes, I understand clearly the egotism that comes from a game in which dominating other players by attaining a higher level or a more advanced piece of armor is the goal. It breeds a kind of spiteful competitiveness that makes people act like idiots. Like free market capitalism!

Just kidding.


There's a lot more to Steenberg's Love, all of which can be checked out at both Totilo’s Kotaku article and at Love’s main site. Both are worth a skim, or a long, detailed look.

So there’s some fresh Love, to hold you over. Come back in two weeks, and I should have a column up that’s a bit more substantial, or at least no more insubstantial than what you see here. Either way, I'll make sure to bring up conservative radio and use the word "balls" again, so you get a good chortle. Until then, mis amigos. Until then.


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- Greg Mengel

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