Monday, November 17, 2014

Confessions of a Collector

So here I am, sitting at my keyboard, having a debate with myself. It goes a little like this:

Me; Do I really want to tell people that I, um... do that thing?

Myself: Sounds like time for a true confession.

Me: Now that's just silly. All sorts of people do it! That's like "confessing" to having a piece of chocolate after dinner.

The thing in question is World of Warcraft. Yes, I play. And yes, it is a tad embarrassing if only because it's the big behemoth of MMOs. While I loudly proclaim my love of gaming, I tend to keep a lid on my enthusiasm for WoW. It's not like one of those Korean games that you play "for the artwork" or whatever. It's a guilty pleasure--the sort people can get addicted to. As a friend of mine put it: "it's that awful ex you keep going back to."

Nevertheless, I play, and I have to admit I kind of love it, particularly right now. The latest expansion came out last week, and it's the most fun I've had playing the game since I started years ago. (With several long breaks between then and now (she hastily added).) What makes it so good?

Well, a lot of things, but in particular, for me, it's the collection aspect. World of Warcraft capitalizes on the human instinct to collect, in the past through pets, gear and achievements, and now through a new feature that allows the collection of "followers"--non-player characters who assist your character.

Though I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder, I do like to collect things, and sometimes those things are a bit strange. Books, ink stamps, key chains, crocheting yarn--those are all pretty normal. Toothbrushes, not so much. (Ostensibly they are for cleaning, but I'm not exactly the most meticulous of housekeepers, so really, there isn't much point to them.)

Anyway, in musing on these things, I got to thinking: can I tap into that instinct to collect in my writing?

Books delve into so many other human desires. We love to fall in love, thus Romance. We love self-description, thus the appeal of the Hogwarts Houses in Harry Potter or the magical Ajahs in Wheel of Time.

Surely there are books that resonate with our passion for collecting. Isn't that a staple of fantasy, to go on a journey searching for various items to complete a quest? The signs in The Dark is Rising come to mind.

And yet, I can't think of any books that give me the satisfaction of collecting vicariously through the characters. I'm wondering why that is. Have I not been reading the right books? Or is that feeling just too difficult to get across on the page?

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I can't think of any books that accomplish that feeling. But then, I think collecting is only really fun for the collector, and everyone else nods politely and smiles. ;-) It would be hard, I think, to get a reader excited about a character's collecting passion.