January 2, 2003
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It's time (probably past time) that I take a look at massively multiplayer role games, since so many new media critics see so much promise in them. For my first foray, I chose World War II Online, chiefly because it's new (and so the technology should be up to date), runs on both platforms (which will make it easier for me to play occasionally), and because a copy was handy.

I'm uneasy about the subject matter (pdf) but that's not a bad sign; art isn't always supposed to be easy.

Installation lacked a few key elements of good user experience, as getting started required five separate download and patch sequences. None of the automatic downloads explained themselves very well, so I had little idea whether I was making progress or futilely downloading the same patch over and over again.

My first afternoon in 1940 Belgium, on the other hand, was not without promise. That is to say, it was a compound of interesting sightseeing and boredom, punctuated by terror and disaster. People were trying to shoot me. I had no idea why. Or where they were. Other people were running around, and I had no idea why -- or if they knew what they were doing. This is probably true -- a lot truer, anyway, than Rambo fantasies.