Why start the conflict in an online role playing game? Do you play games like World of Warcraft?
I hesitate to say I’m much of a gamer, because every time I go online and try to go up against the average ten year old boy, I get my butt kicked so hard that it becomes clear I can’t lay any claim to that title. But I certainly do my share of game playing, and I’ve been aware of the gold farming phenomenon for a number of years. I always thought it was kind of an interesting feature of that universe, and in this case it happened to dovetail quite naturally with the plot.
T’Rain takes the idea of gold farming even further –everyone who plays contributes to a complex economy, and can easily convert their labor into real money. Do you think online role playing games are headed in that direction, that they’ll be designed for commerce?
Well, it’s undoubtedly happening right now on an informal level all over the place. A huge amount of money is changing hands, and the thing that prevents it from coming out into the open and working the way it’s depicted in the novel is a number of legal and regulatory hang ups. These are things that I was able to just sort of dispense with as a novelist, and pretend that they didn’t exist –the people who actually run companies like this obviously don’t have that ability. So I think the question of could this really happen is strictly a matter of is it going to be legalized.
People who play online role playing games are often painted in a negative light, like they’re alone in a dark basement for years at a time. But the characters in your novel are very healthy gamers. Was that a conscious decision, to say it is not some freaky thing?
I’m just trying to reflect the reality of what I see in the world of gaming. Sure there are the pathological cases, people who have an out of control addiction. But these games are also quite widespread among people who do not fit that stereotype at all. It’s something that they do as a form of entertainment. Instead of going to a movie or reading a book they’ll just sit down for a couple of hours and do a quest in Warcraft.