Sunday, February 01, 2009


I used to play Everquest. Everquest is a role playing game, an on-line one, with lots of other people playing at the same time. There are lots of these sorts of games around, sort of a computer, on-line with lots of people reworkings of the old Dungeons & Dragons games.

Key to all these games that I've ever played (an embarrassingly large number) is leveling. The idea is that you start out at level one, with certain minimal abilities and a very low life expectancy, and then as you play and kill DM or computer-spawned "bad guys" or beasties or whatever, you gain experience and get better at your skills. As the experience builds, you gain levels, eventually becoming level whatever is the max, if you play long enough. And levels gives you a lot more abilities and a lot more survivability.

One of the satisfying (and addicting) things about leveling is that you have a real sense of accomplishing something, a sense that you've improved and have more capabilities. Sometimes there are special "privileges" for folks of different levels, a last name or a title for your avatar/character, for example.

In Everquest, when you gain a level, the game sends a big and unique "ding!" sound, and it's quite common in groups and such for someone to say "ding!" when they level, and then everyone around congratulates them.

There are few times as an adult that I really have a sense of "leveling" or getting significantly better at something. Yeah, I earned a phud, and that represents a boatload of hard work, and yes, part of that hard work included finishing a significant original research project. And I think I'm a way better instructor and scholar now than I was before I finished the phud. It's helpful for employment, for sure. Getting tenure is better than nice, but I don't think I'm a better teacher because I have tenure (though I have more other responsibilities). But other than that, feeling like I'm getting significantly better at something is a pretty rare thing.

I went skiing yesterday afternoon and this afternoon, and it felt a little different, like I dinged to level 2 in cross-country skiing. I can pick up my feet a little better, and feel a little less awkward. I can bend my legs a little better. I can ski a little longer without feeling like I want to stop and just stand there.

I'm really glad that I don't have to face any orcs on skis, though. Seriously glad. It would be CR time, and I don't know any 56 or clicky stick clerics IRL.


  1. Anonymous5:02 PM

    Grats! ;)

  2. I remember when they brought out Velious -- now there's a zone where having skiing skill would've helped!

  3. I don't think I could outski Sonta! (Though I remember with great amusement a guild bard training Sonta away from the entrance to ToV. Heck of a train!)

  4. I play World of Warcraft...I think that when I hit the level cap over Christmas break, the people in the game were genuinely happier for me than the people around when I got my Ph.D. Ha. My sense of accomplishment was certainly less fraught.

  5. I totally thought of my PhD in terms of "leveling up" :)

  6. Grats!

    So are blogger comments the new guild chat, then?

  7. NegativeCapability, I know I felt getting my epic was more important to my guild friends than my phud was to anyone but myself.

    StyleyGeek, Really? COOL! So you're a level 1 phud now?

    EmmaNadine, I think Twitter might be more guild chat, and blogger comments are like the old forum boards?

  8. I prefer to think of it as "level 3 academic" (level 1 = undergrad, level 2 = postgrad, level 3 = graduated!) When I get a real job, I'll consider myself level 4 (DING!)

    Hopefully I'll gain the feat of "earn money" and be able to increase my (job) security skills :)