Monday, 28 May 2007

Sharkith and I

One of the odd things about the pixels that are Sharkith is their relationship to I/me. First of all we have the relationships with I.

Sharkith is a figure, a body in a digital world. Not my body of course not even like my body. He is an Elf after all and I am human. He has odd coloured hair and I have none. Sharkith has a large shock of hair - I thought thats what an elf should look like. If I had hair it would not look like his. In fact the only connection between Sharkith and I are the colour of his eyes (mine are green too) and the keystrokes I use to control his movements. There is no real physical feeling other than keystrokes. Sharkith is not physically alive he leads a digital existence, yet every time I press a key he moves. His movements are connected to mine.

His being is derived from periodic impulses directed through my fingers into a world that is presented to me from a third person perspective. I am not really him I am at once the world and him combined. Through Sharkith I can do stuff, stuff I would not normally do in a place that I would not normally inhabit. He can vanish from view. I can't. He can jump off a bridge, the side of a keep and only hurt himself momentarily. I practically injure myself if I hop more than six steps to the floor below. Sharkith can get stuck inside trees, he can get stuck in walls. I can't. At least I haven't annoyed anyone that much yet for this to happen.

Sharkith is around a foot tall if I zoom in enough to try and measure his real height. His movements are restricted and repetitive and he runs like he has a stick up his arse and has 'snakey hips'. He can swim underwater for very long periods of time. I can push a key that enables him to run without any tactile connection to the keystroke. Thats risky though. Everyone who has played a MMO has probably been through an accident where the character they were controlling was allowed to run along as they went for a coffee or tea only to find on their return to the keyboard the character far out at sea or being eaten alive by the various denzins of the world their character inhabits.

I possess Sharkith's body and wander around the game environment. Thats not totally accurate I control his body but posess the immediate environment around him. He dies but is 'ressurrected' feeling slightly worse for wear. A quick visit to a healer and he is better. A small fee and his statistics are restored from his 'ressurrection illness'. Sharkith can die and it doesn't affect me because there is no physical connection to me. But thats not all.

As my time developed in the game I noticed that I have become switched off at home. I am not fully aware of whats happening around me and anything that disturbs the connection between Sharkith and I is a source of irritation. My wife needing something done, the children playing around my feet. I am engrossed. This is not the first time I have become so preoccupied with a game of course so its not that different. Well actually it is. Sharkith is not mine, he is not stored on my hard drive and I have to pay to access him and the world he lives in. I am investing time in him but he remains a company's property. I pay to use Sharkith as an instrument for exploration. He is not mine though.

Not mine. Yet I continue to build him up. He improves and gets stronger as I explore. Its frustrating but rewarding. He is a nightshade. Its mostly frustrating. I feel I have put too much into things by now though and so I won't give up I will continue. I am tied to Sharkith through this developing bond. Sharkith is not mine though I pay to be through Sharkith, I am paying to be something I am not and I am paying to become something I can never be.

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