Ode to the MMORPG

It’s been a while since my last entry and the blame lies squarely on an addiction. This addiction while not new, is one I’ve had since I was about 10 years old. I’ve broken free at times but somehow always find my way back when new technologies allow the scourge that is the “video game” to become much more interactive and exciting.

It was only three short years ago that the MMORPG (Massive Multi-user Online Role Playing Game) first started gaining momentum on the internet. I was simply astounded that real people could all play the same game at the same time and compete against each other.

Long gone are the times when you had to use your imagination to make a green square seem like an invincible warrior! Now it is quite easy to slip into a fantasy world where it takes years to properly develop your character. Long gone are the days when adults could say that playing games make your brain turn to mush. The military even learned this lesson and those with excellent video game playing skills are in high demand to control the various techologies of war.
In the game I’ve been playing for over a year, I’ve learned that these games actually teach many skills that seem boring in the classroom. The game I play is called “Knight Online” where you are able to select your character to be a “Rogue Archer, Mage, Priest, Warrior or Healer.” Players are from around the world and speak in many languages but mostly Turkish. In this game you can learn:

1. Languages – Mostly simple Turkish words after seeing them over and over again. Kids are actually gaining an interest in a foreign language since it is necessary to communicate!

2. Economics – In the game you can collect various precious items, armor, weapons and sell them for a price you set. The market moves up and down depending on the laws of supply and demand which is basic Economics 101!!

3. Time zones and Geography – Depending on the time of day, various players from different countries will be online and this knowledge is beneficial in determining at one hour one wishes to participate in the wars which are set at certain times.

4. Statistics – There is a “magic anvil” in which you have a chance to upgrade your weapons and armor, but the better these items get the chances that your weapon or armor will be destroyed increase. Kids learn the statistics and determine whether to chance it, or sell the weapon they’ve got.

5. Contribute to World Peace – Since you play the game with people from all over the world you quickly learn that we’re all not that different and can even strike up friendships with people from other countries. It’s becoming much more difficult for the leadership of countries to make villians of citizens of other countries because through the game, kids are realizing this just isn’t true.

Bottom line is that games now make kids smarter. The picture below is of my character in battle. I do hope that I’ll soon tire of this game so I can do more productive things in my free time but as computers and the internet get better, so do the games. Looks like I’m doomed.


International Journal Việt Nam

Saigon Stories – Long time No entry

I write now from the Pham Ngu Lao district in Ho Chi Minh that now is home to Saigon’s only decent “Starbucks-like” cafe. Saigon doesn’t have Starbucks yet but this place is darn close. They have enough selection that even an American would be satisfied although I’m sure the staff won’t understand what a “skinny” latte is, so better take it easy on the coffee jargon.

It’s been a while since my last entry and the blame lies directly on the scourge that is the MMORPG. And no it’s not a new Bush administration initative to spy on American citizens. The MMORPG stands for “Massive Multiuser Online Role Playing Games.” The game I play is “Knight Online” which has refused to release me from it’s grip for the past two and a half weeks. However, I finally have reached a decent level and have managed to secure a pretty effective Horn Crossbow Plus 5 with poison damage! Haha..

But honestly, these games are so captivating already and can only get better! I seriously predict that a good portion of the population will withdrawl from society like Japan’s “Hikikomori” since the online game world is much more exciting than real life. For those of you who don’t understand exactly what these games are,, just picture an entirely new worlds, yes worlds, where it can take years to properly develop your character. You can also make money in the real world through these games, but if you want to learn more just go to

As for Saigon, it continues it’s Sonic Boom of development and has gained it’s very first 24 hour convenience store! Not only that, but there is finally a hip new magazine for ex-pats called Saigon Inside Out and it is every bit as Tokyo’s Metropolis.

In other news, it is now the “Tet” holiday or Lunar New Year Holiday. It’s the time when everyone goes back to the countryside to visit relatives and pray for good fortune for the new year. The ex-pats all say that you gotta get out of the city since it’s dead here but that is simply untrue. First, it’s much more peaceful here without all the billions of motorbikes and I was struck smack in the face yesterday by a breath of fresh air! Unreal for Saigon. Secondly, there are plenty of venues still open, especially the ex-pat places. So actually this week isn’t any different from all the rest except that Saigon actually becomes an extremely pleasant place to live.