Being in between jobs right now, I get on the computer every morning. I check my e-mail, log onto Facebook for a little bit (I don't fall into the Black Hole of Lost Time, though), check various job listings, apply for any that look possible (at this point, I don't look to have an overwhelmingly desirable feeling about them, but that there's something in each of the jobs that would interest me, such as doing back-office work at an Ethan Allen location, owing to an interest in interior design and wanting to see people have the home design they may have dreamed of for years), search the library catalog for any books I meant to search for the previous night, or that still remain in my bookmarks on Chrome that I still have to hock the Ventura Library District to buy. Oh, and of course my own writing, novels that I'm researching, picture book ideas I'm looking to expand, poems I'm trying (I don't know how much of an interest I have in poetry yet).
So why would I want to spend even more time on the computer? Why, when I have so many books I want to read, and one DVD binder with movies and TV series I haven't watched yet (I want to try the Canadian series L.A. Complex again, which aired in 2012 on The CW, and which seems appropriate now that I'm in Southern California again. I also have the entire run of As Time Goes By, because of Judi Dench, but I want to get beyond the third episode already, actually take time for it)? Besides that DVD binder, I also have a few DVDs scattered between my bedroom area (actually the dining room area of this apartment, but because the apartment smaller than what we came from, without a third bedroom, we converted it into my bedroom) and my bookcases that I want to watch, too.
And then I stumbled onto Forge of Empires.
No, this story isn't going to end the way you think it might.
I haven't spent obsessive hours upon hours and days upon days playing it, starting from the Stone Age and working hard so I can travel through time this way. In fact, I haven't even signed up for an account yet. I just sit there at the front page, reading the information they have for potential new users, their blog announcing updates, and watching the citizens in the shadow of the castle on the front page go about their work. I've only done this since last weekend, the kid with his nose pressed against the window of the toy store, though I'm not wide-eyed, nor wishing for this or that, or that I could go inside and have everything that I want.
I remember FarmVille and Mafia Wars on Facebook. I don't remember exactly why I started playing them, but I think a few Facebook friends were playing Mafia Wars and I traded with them on various items and whatever else was involved there. I've long since forgotten. But I remember that you had to wait for energy to be replenished, with a countdown clock indicating when you'd have more of it. As to FarmVille, my old farm is still active, right down to the 2010 New Year's ball drop pole I put on that farm. I still go in every now and then to play with it, when it all actually loads properly.
So I imagine that Forge of Empires also has the same clocks there, that you have to wait before various things are replenished. I see also that it's a SimCity type of game, spanning the Stone Age, then the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Middle Ages, the Colonial Age, and the Industrial Age. I like that kind of historical bent. But still I sit in front of its homepage. Still no account created. Why?
This morning, I realized why. Even while being attracted by the graphics, the possibility of seeing right in front of my eyes what these various ages might have looked like, and to build a city and make it work, I'm a writer. I'm working on creating my own worlds through novels I hope to see published some day. I'm already seeing to the lives of my characters, who are also seeing to my life in that sometimes I'm simply transcribing what they say, as it has happened to countless other writers.
But it's not only that. Looking at the front page of Forge of Empires, and the graphics, and indeed some of the YouTube videos that have been posted about the game, such as the tutorials and the time-lapse footage, they only serve to strengthen my interest in reading historical novels. Just like watching The Lion in Winter recently made me seek out novels about the English monarchy, Forge of Empires does the same in other ages. I went looking for Steven Saylor's series of Roman novels featuring Gordianus the Finder. I'm thinking about novels set in the 1930s, my favorite historical period to study. I'm wondering about the 1890s. I remember the musical 1776, and David McCullough's 1776 comes to mind, which I still haven't read.
I think, for me, Forge of Empires is best as inspiration to seek out historical novels, biographies, and other non-fiction works so I can venture through those time periods that way. I can't keep staring at a screen more than I usually do in pursuit of what I need in my life (a job) and what I want (to write these novels and other books). Each day is already short enough.