Some of us hate spiders; some of us aren’t too keen on crowds. Me, I hate heights. In recent years it’s got bad enough that even heights in games are liable to make me lose my lunch, and while I may write amusingly about it here, it’s actually anything but funny. And the worst thing? Every game and game expansion in the last 3 years features areas that either hang in space or are precipitously perched right next to — or worse, over — horrifying drops into nothingness, with corresponding quests that take you right to the edge of nausea. EQ2 Kingdom of Sky: bunch of floating islands that you have to ride a little cloud to travel between (oh yeah, like I’m going to do that, ever). WoW The Burning Crusade: bunch of floating landmasses with really nasty eroded frittered edges that are just asking you to fling yourself off. Warhammer Online’s Inevitable City: floating in purple nothingness. Spellborn: bunch of floating landmasses. EQ2 The Shadow Odyssey: towns perched on mile-high cliffs, towns perched on mile-high trees.
Game developers hate acrophobics and they’re laughing their asses off as we hug the floor in our computer rooms, heart triphammering, unable to move. Thank god for recall spells.
Okay, or stuff high up in the air just happens to be fashionable right now. I guess the next trend will be underwater cities or something.
The thing is, I’ve got bad enough about it that when I land on a giant tree with little gaps here and there to show me just how terror-inducingly high I am and how there is actually nothing but empty air beneath my feet (stupid little tree trunky stuff doesn’t count), I’m unable to do anything but run from the computer and try to avoid a full-blown panic attack. Yes, I know it’s all in my head — knowing that rationally doesn’t help a whole lot irrationally.
Oddly enough, it’s not just any height, it’s unsupported ones. Sitting at the top of a cliff is not too bad, as long as nobody makes me go right to the edge and look down, and provided there’s a horizon. Lack of a horizon is killer. Knowing there’s nothing solid beneath my feet (or my character’s feet) is also a killer, which is why you’re not going to see me in those building-hugging glass elevators anytime soon. Flying on whatever contraption is used to get from A to B in games (griffon, balloon, carpet) is also fine, as long as there’s solid ground somewhere below — the cloud rides in Kingdom of Sky and the griffon rides in Burning Crusade’s Hellfire Peninsula islets are most assuredly NOT fine and I won’t be doing those again.
I was going to take a “not ok” screenie to compare with the balloon shot above (in which I was fine), but I don’t love you enough to put myself through going to KoS and taking a picture of the edge of nothing. Glerk.
So, when I get quests that take me to these places and make me do these things I absolutely CANNOT do without a lot of expensive therapy… I have to rely on the kindness of the spousal unit. And trust me, those quests are everywhere. Like I said, game designers all around the MMO universe are snickering at those of us with a fear of heights. “I know!” one of them must have said, capering with glee (any resemblence to goblins is purely accidental), “We’ll make them jump over the edge of a waterfall into apparent nothingness! If that doesn’t make them hurl chunks, I don’t know what will! Teehee!” In the last couple of weeks I’ve thrown myself off the waterfall not once, but thrice, partly because of the quest and partly because of my own dumbassishness, been fired out of a cannon (which oddly enough wasn’t too bad, provided I didn’t look down, and it was over quickly), and wandered around on a tree talking to frogs. I say “I” but “I” was actually completely remote from the whole process. I tried to watch the waterfall-fall but after a quick glimpse of my gal floating leisurely down through nothing but empty space, with a distant island to provide stomach-churning perspective, I gave up; now I leave the room and let hubby direct my character.
Yesterday’s cannon/balloon/airship/mile-high tree capers had me damn near to the quivering jelly stage. It’s good blog post material, but it truly, truly sucks and I truly, truly hope the heights fad in MMOs passes soon and I can play games and expansions and do quests that do not involve triggering panic attacks.