The WoW Pod can be seen at the the MIT Museum from March through September. (Credit: MIT)
As if World of Warcrafters needed another way to isolate themselves from the world, the WoW Pod, as described by its creators at MIT, is "an immersive architectural solution for the advanced WoW (World of Warcraft) player that provides and anticipates all life needs". Translation: it's an individual bungalow simulating the look and feel of an authentic hut within the Azeroth universe, and if you think the outside is scary, wait until you open the door.
Once inside the tiny space, you'll notice that it's entirely self-contained, and that's to discourage the player from ever leaving. Almost all basic human needs are provided, including a throne that doubles as a toilet (gross), a cook pot, stove top and, of course, a computer and monitor for WoWing.
All you need in one pod.
Most importantly, the hut solves one of WoW's biggest pitfalls: breaks. See, a quick pause of the game to take a break can be catastrophic to a player's avatar. Even a bathroom run or a simple snack can result in death, or worse, banishment from one's guild, so anything a player can do to restrict distraction is good. And here's where it gets scary.
When a player gets hungry playing inside the hut, he or she just selects one of the pre-packaged food packs on the wall (labelled "Soothing Turtle Bisque" and "Beer Basted Ribs" to further the fantasy), holds the printed semacode under a scanner, and places it on the hotplate. From here, the hardware takes over and physically adjusts the hotplate to cook the food for the right amount of time while the player's corresponding avatar pauses the game and loudly announces the progress to others in the realm: "Vorcon's meal is about to be done!" and "Better eat the ribs while they're hot!"
On-screen avatar announces
the meal. (Credit: MIT)
When the meal is done cooking, the game is automatically placed in AFK (Away From Keyboard) mode to allow the gamer sufficient time to eat without fear of a quick strike. Once satisfied, the avatar actively returns to continue exploring, but there are virtual side effects; for example, overeating can result in avatars feeling sluggish and unresponsive to control.
Does this feel like a giant step backward? Online multiplayer games do encourage teamwork and build communities, but should not in the name of intentional escapism. This hut is the grown-up version of a children's playhouse, except that these players will probably go in and never come out.
The idea is clever and anticipates many of the needs of a WoW fanatic, but can you imagine having a friend walk in on you using the throne and cooking food at the same time? Sounds humiliating. On top of that, the thing is missing the one amenity that ALL nerds truly, desperately need: a shower.
All you need in one pod (Credit: MIT)