Why must worlds change?
At the dawn of a new age in RuneScape's history, I pose this rhetorical question, not because I seek an answer, but rather because I futilely attempt to reject the workings of this world. My petulant sentiment is outraged at this fundamental, yet undesirable outcome. If life and its wonders are enjoyable in their current form, then why must there be change? Innocent enjoyment, derived from a game dear to my heart, is no more than an ephemeral experience, not quite an existence of its own.
Whenever I stumble upon an area which featured prominently in the earliest days of my RuneScape experience, I enter a nostalgic mood as I faintly recall both the histories of my RuneScape persona and my own.
"I used to fish for lobsters on this very spot many long years ago. So 'that' is the type of person I was." Insight gleaned from a preserved recollection within this fantasy game. Already, the memory appears so distant. A different world, a different time, a different me—yet fundamentally the same.
"Different, but the same," I muse, standing upon the sturdy wooden docks of wind-blown Karamja Island. When I attempt to once again fish for lobsters, I find myself unable to recapture the experience within my memories. The graphics are now breathtaking and the audio is wonderfully engaging, yet the knowledge that the wages earned through this endeavor are a mere pittance compared to my usual activities stains the experience with a copious dose of negativity. Besides, I am not so naïve as to believe that I can transcend the confines of time through this simple activity. Within my heart, I am keenly aware that I can never recapture the original experience of lobster fishing again. The game has changed far too much, or perhaps I have.
From a rational point of view, it is crystal clear why games change. Without change, games are left behind, deserted while players and trends change and progress. RuneScape is not a simple flash game that can afford to remain static. RuneScape has a driving mission to remain at the forefront of the gaming industry, a desire to persist within a perpetually changing environment. In this regard, I must pay my compliments to Jagex for their continual efforts to improve the world of Gielinor through the flexibility of the new interface system, the scale of the inaugural battle, and eventually, the superior graphics and performance of HTML5. Through their efforts, I am certain that RuneScape will prosper for many more years to come, enough time for another generation of players at the very least.
As I type up what is possibly my final article for the Tip.It Times, I feel yet another sensation of change. After this day, I will be changed, and so will the Editorial Panel. Fresh blood from the recruitment drive will bring new opinions and styles to our weekly publication, while older members slowly depart. I have found my experience on the Panel to be invaluable, and I have no doubt that the new writers and editors will glean something unique, something authentic during their stay.
"Ah," I exclaim in wonder. "So that is why games change."
Author Walker Percy explores the idea of an authentic experience which accords strongly with my own.1 According to his perspective, the publication of one's experience detracts from that same experience, rendering it incomplete for future generations. The struggle for an authentic experience is onerous indeed, for not only is the person in question required to discover an experience of which he/she had not previously been aware, he/she must also avoid consciously searching for such an experience. In other words, it is the difference between the child who discovers the simple joy of lobster fishing and the weary traveler who actively roams through the wilderness in hopes of an adventure.
Fishing on the docks of Karamja is my own experience, yet even this description of my experience has cheapened it, prevented it from being authentic for the future player. Through the tumultuous changes to the game my own experience withers away, yet change is precisely what allows the next generation of players to forge their own authentic experiences. Perhaps they will fondly recall time spent at Wilderness Warbands or the grand Battle of Lumbridge instead of worn-out fishing piers, but I would be utterly foolish to deny them that essential experience.
Perhaps the death of my experience is not a tragedy but a door to the future. Perhaps I am meant to venture into the future while the the next generation seizes the present. After all, the world does not end with me. Succession is the music of life—merely an act of generational progression.
1. Walker Percy's The Loss of the Creature: http://www.udel.edu/anthro/ackerman/loss_creature.pdf
(Thanks to Arceus for providing excellent reference material and discussion!)