What’s it about? A 38-year-old salaryman sits at his computer desk. A new VRMMO is just out of beta, and he creates a new character: Earth. Because this man only has a couple of hours available per day to devote to the game, he decides it would be best to fly under the radar and play solo. He chooses the most underleveled skills available, including medicine-brewing, archery, kicking, and wind magic, so as not to stand out from the crowd. Here begins his totally average, boring, VRMMO life.
Alright, y’all, I have about thirty minutes before my shift starts and A Playthrough of a Certain Dude’s VRMMO Life doesn’t really warrant much more thought than that, so let’s see if I can crank this out before spending eight hours getting the shit kicked out of me by two- and three-year-olds.
VRMMO anime have been around for over 20 years (oh god oh god how has it been that long since .hack), in both “involuntarily trapped” and “willingly playing” variants. A few of them have been good, but most have been boring slogs and/or indulge in the kind of petty power fantasies entertained by people who like to pretend they’re oppressed for being nerds. A Playthrough of a Certain Dude’s VRMMO Life, or, as I like to call it, A Really Boring Dude Plays an MMO Boringly, is primarily the former but dips into the latter.
It’s boring. It’s so, so, so very boring, and it positively boggles my mind how people can consider this entertainment. The game, titled “One More Free Life Online,” is a big sandbox MMORPG where people can play however they like. You can fight monsters, you can get really into crafting, or you can just vibe. Basically, it’s like a fantasy Second Life but with combat elements. So our dude, Earth, actively decides to play in a way that will attract as little attention as possible, since he doesn’t have time to devote to serious raids. He narrates endlessly as he practices archery, learns to cook in-game because apparently the VR extends to tastebuds, and hunts low-level monsters. But then he accidentally gets good at skills nobody else has, but turn out to be in demand through contrivance!
Except that the story doesn’t follow its own reasoning, or have anything to do with how people play MMOs. If it’s launch day, would every single person know right off the bat that medicine-making and archery are “useless”? Wouldn’t some people boot up the game, not having played the beta or checked all the guides, and choose these skills thinking they sound good? He’s literally the only person in the game with the medicine skill. He gets bullied just for being seen carrying a bow. But if this is the kind of game where you can just vibe, wouldn’t players pick these just because they sound fun and match their playstyle? Also, how did that bully get such high level gear?
It’s so silly, and to me, it just feels like it was written by someone who was teased in high school for being a nerd. “Those skills you called useless are now in high demand! And I’m so good at them that I can use them to beat your supposed better skills!” It’s utterly petty in the worst way, and while I get the impulse – I’ve certainly bragged about the high points of my career in anime journalism to the people who naysayed me in the early years of my interest – Tedious Dude Shows His Bullies Through Fiction lacks the imagination to make it compelling in any way, or to truly interrogate these power dynamics in anything but the most shallow, facile way.
Well, the clock just hit ten o’clock and I hear screaming. Time to wrap this up: just pick any Twitch stream with under a hundred viewers and watch that instead. It can’t be any less engaging than this.