Rage against the machines

Prospect Magazine:

When Mogwai isn’t online, he’s called Adam Brouwer, and works as a
civil servant for the British government modelling crisis scenarios of
hypothetical veterinary disease outbreaks. I point out to him a recent
article in the Harvard Business Review, billed under the line “The best
sign that someone’s qualified to run an internet startup may not be an
MBA degree, but level 70 guild leader status.” Is there anything to
this? “Absolutely,” he says, “but if you tried to argue that within the
traditional business market you would get laughed out of the
interview.” How, then, does he explain his willingness to invest so
much in something that has little value for his career? He disputes
this claim. “In Warcraft I’ve developed confidence; a lack of fear
about entering difficult situations; I’ve enhanced my presentation
skills and debating. Then there are more subtle things: judging
people’s intentions from conversations, learning to tell people what
they want to hear. I am certainly more manipulative, more
Machiavellian. I love being in charge of a group of people, leading
them to succeed in a task.”

It’s an eloquent self-justification–even if some, including Adam’s
partner of the last ten years, might say he protests too much. You find
this kind of frank introspection again and again on the thousands of
independent websites maintained by World of Warcraft’s more than 10m
players. Yet this way of thinking about video games can be found almost
nowhere within the mainstream media, which still tend to treat games as
an odd mix of the slightly menacing and the alien: more like exotic
organisms dredged from the deep sea than complex human creations.