Do people wonder about my love/obsession of FFXI? A game? And not just only a game, but a MMORPG? Something MUSHers have always looked down on? A place where the vast majority of players cannot type and are so immature that they use the word "rape" to mean something positive? How can you explain my love for something like that?
Because on FFXI, unlike on even other MMORGs, I count. You don't just go and kill a monster to get a treasure back, you are literally saving the world. You are important. Your best effort makes a difference.
Darkness has fallen across a good land, and unless you stop it (with help of friends you choose to do work with), the evil won't end. This isn't a pointless, meaningless story, it isn't just endless killing of computer-code mobs, you are part of the story. Heck, you're not just part of the story, you ARE the story.
To quote awntawn: "Played until 6AM, collapsed after hitting Tu'lia. It fucking owned, forgot I was playing an MMO. We were playing a Final Fantasy, and we were the fucking heroes."
"And we were the heroes". That sums up the game. FFXI makes you matter, in a way that even RL cannot for most people. (Maybe cops and firemen can make a difference like this, but someone in tech support? Someone who serves fast food? Someone who works in an office?) I'll never be a hero in RL, but in FFXI I'm needed. I'm replaceable at work, but in the game, without me a beautiful world will be destroyed*.
So here's the video which spurred this on: http://academ.hvcc.edu/~00663054/Recollection.wmv About 9 minutes long and about 70 megs. Put together by a very, very talented player. You'll get glimpses of all the various jobs and what they do in the game, but if you choose to download it and watch it hopefully you'll get something more: The spirit of the game.
(* The storyline is set up so that "you" are the hero. Each and every person of the millions who play is that "you". While there should be some mental confusion caused by this ("Why do I need to kill the Shadow Lord if 2.5 million people already did?"), that never comes up for me. "We were playing a Final Fantasy, and we were the fucking heroes."