Monday, June 26, 2006

Office Politics - Like an On-Line Game

I never really understood Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORG). They just seem like a huge time sink. However, I have recently discovered one that I find really, really interesting: Office Politics.

While I play the game on-line, it also has options for phone play and even in-person game action. In fact, most people play the game face-to-face and I do this myself several times a month, but my travel schedule and remote office set-up means that on-line is the way I usually interact in this fascinating and engaging alternative reality.

There are two possible ways to play the game. The mode I play is "treasure mode", which has the object of capturing the most gold pieces. Mrs. Director is currently playing "survival mode", which isn't nearly as fun. However, the treasure mode has traps and pitfalls that not only switch it to survival mode, but even to "sudden death". So the treasure mode isn't completely safe and came become suddenly very scary, which is part of the fun.

To give you a full picture of the game, let me explain what is going on in my present world:

Right now an ogre has penetrated my borders and is establishing a base camp. Usually I just mount a frontal assault and knock him out of my territory. But I have found that he just slips back in when I am not looking. So instead of just chasing him away again, I am letting him set up camp; letting him get comfortable. In the mean time I am setting up pickets around his position. When I give the signal, all the spears will be pointed inwards and I am going to skewer him for good. Definitely a lot more fun than just chasing him off.

In the mean time I have sent representatives to a strong, but friendly, neighboring kingdom to let the ruler know that I believe the leader to the lands our south will soon be embroiled in an ethical controversy. I am going to propose to my strong neighbor that during this period of weakness that we take some of our neighbor's lands and divide it between us. I think he will be open to the proposal, which will not only make each of us stronger, but strengthen the alliance between us.

So the game has a combination of action, adventure and plotting. Who needs Star Wars Galaxies?

The one problem is that it is a rather mature game and takes time to master. There are people who have played for years that aren't much better than amateurs. But with the investment of time - and most importantly finding a better player to show you the trips and traps - anyone can become pretty good. I have seen otherwise incompetent morons become very successful in this alternative universe, and that isn't an easy task. A random number generator makes sure, however, that chance still plays a big part in the game, so some of the results have nothing to do with skill.

But while I plot battles and conquer lands, I keep in mind that this is just a game. No one will remember the high scores in a few years, and eventually everyone I am playing with will move on to other games or stop playing altogether. And I know that one day this particular world I am playing in will fade away for good. So, really, this game is still something of a time sink and not that important in the grand scheme of things.

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