I have always been interested in writing. So as a teenager in the early 80's I owned a piece of state of the art word processing technology: An electric typewriter. And I even went to a typing course, where I learned to type 50 words per minute, error-free, using all 10 fingers without even watching them. At the time that was unusual for boys, it was usually girls who became typists. In a typical company every middle manager or creative type who had to write a document instead dictated it onto a tape recorder, and then a typist would type that on paper.
Well, computers came and changed all that. Now everybody in a company needs to write his own stuff, many people spend a lot of time in front of a keyboard both at work and at home. For me that meant that the typing course was one of the most useful courses I ever took, as I'm typing twice as fast as the average computer user because of it.
But as I spent this weekend using my typing skills to write a self-made D&D adventure, it struck me how very different the process is from playing a MMORPG. Pen & paper role-playing games are very creative, I write adventures, I play roles, I interact with my players in a back and forth where we all have to invent stuff all the time. In comparison MMORPGs feel a lot more like typing, especially when it comes to the dungeon and raiding part: You want to hit a lot of keys fast and in the correct order. And if you do it wrong, your tear up the page and start over, hitting the same keys faster and with less errors the next time. In a MMORPG I am downgraded to the role of a typist, and my success is based not on the creativity of my ideas or the entertainment value of my expression, but on how fast I can hit those keys without errors.
So right now occupying myself with Dungeons & Dragons feels like a huge liberation of my creative energies, a big step upwards from being a typist in WoW or SWTOR. Needless to say I ended up playing very little of SWTOR this weekend. I'm starting to wonder if I'm actually going to make it to level 50 or will give up before that.