I don’t play MMOs, don’t have enough time in the day. And I’m a bit allergic to the swords-and-wizards genre. However, MMOs are big business, especially in Asia. There are gangster and crime MMOs coming to the West, though there’s already a popular Prohibition Era gangster MMO in South Korea. So it makes sense for DC Comics to want to get in on the action.
In DCU ONLINE, you get to create your own character and powers. You get a call on your PDA or phone or whatever by Superman or Batman to help them on missions. If you choose to be a villain, I guess you get a phone call from Lex Luthor to go start some shit? Either way, the principle is the same.
I guess if I were 10 years old, that might be cool, but for adults? I would have thought fans would rather play as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern rather than some pastiche wannabe. And nobody gets killed, just knocked out of action, which is a far cry from how DC Comics are these days, with the near-necrophiliac continuity madness hitting its peak currently with BLACKEST NIGHT. I would think almost everyone might want to play as Batman just to pwn everyone else (imagine a game session full of multiple Batmen teabagging everyone else who’s not a Batman). Just like I think everyone would want to play as Wolverine or Deadpool in a Marvel game should one ever showed up. I may be over-thinking this, but why would Superman need your much weaker, puny ass character’s help to beat up Doomsday? That strikes me as being like a kid’s fantasy of being the hero’s new best friend. Do grown-up fans really want to create a proxy that gets to hang out with Superman and Batman? I’m not trying to be snarky here, I’m genuinely curious. After all, role-playing video games fulfill a similar function that fiction does, a chance to role-play in a more passive way than just readiing. But DCU ONLINE isn’t the same as CITY OF HEROES or CHAMPIONS ONLINE, where players get to create their own characters that are often pastiches and analogies of the archetypes established by DC and Marvel comics. In DCU, would it work if players only get to rub shoulders with the actual DC heroes without getting to be them?
And another question pops into my mind. DC owns the main characters. Do the players retain ownership of the original characters they create? I’ll be interested in reading the User’s Agreement.
The other thing about fiction is that the audience will always find uses for it beyond the expectations of the creators. WORLD OF WARCRAFT players like to create cliques that hang out to chat as much as play, and the game has become a hub for social networking. This came to a head in a way a few years ago when a party of online friends organized a funeral party for a play who died in real life, only for their party to be raided and slaughtered by another party, and this was in accordance with the game rules. The massacre has been uploaded to youtube for all to watch. I still laugh my arse off at the surreal dissonance of that incident. The friends of the deceased might have displayed a bit more vision and gotten less anguish if they had organized a raping-and-pillaging party in his honour.
I won’t be playing DCU ONLINE, but I’m interested in seeing what people are going to do with it beyond the beaten path of the gameplay. Will there be user-created Machinima original movies before DC slaps cease-and-desist orders? How creative will the griefing get? Will we see spandex characters try to hump each other’s legs like you do with the avatars in the Playstation 3’s HOME hub? Will funeral parties end in city-smashing fights? What happens when hackers crack the AI codes of the Non-Player Characters who are in this case the main DC characters?
That’s when things will get reeeeeally interesting.
© Adisakdi Tantimedh. firstname.lastname@example.org