Most of you were introduced to this game through a friend. He will probably have explained to you that, while the graphics and game play were rigid and of far lower quality than other games you played, the complexity and interactivity with other players would more than make up for any of your reservations. So you dove in face first in an attempt to immerse yourself into this fictional world, but soon enough you found out that RuneScape is a game of hardcore persistence where only the best matters.
Straight out of the gate and fully armed with the bronze you made, you'll find that this equipment is not only woefully inadequate, but your ability to obtain or even wear something decent will take a lot of time. So you set to it, because someone called you a noob or some other unworthiness-y term, and you'll be damned if you'll let that happen again.
And so it begins. You set a goal for yourself to work towards, find the best tools you can afford, and slave away for hours to reach it. Along the way you'll encounter nasty obstacles such as having to schlep to a bank, quests and their requirements, random events, and people telling you you're doing it wrong.
You will eventually get the hang of it all, but just when you think you're actually good at something, someone better will force you out of your particular training spot. Frustrated, you mutter something about getting back at this person someday, and move on.
But as you aspire to be better than everyone else playing the game, there's another factor that keeps moving the goalpost. Dragon equipment used to be top of the line, but then there was Barrows. Finally got yourself some Barrows? Here's some Bandos and Armadyl armour. And when you finally manage to afford that, someone rubs their ancient stuff in your face. New updates keep you playing forever, but they also keep you playing forever (hello Trimmed Completionist cape).
Thought this was the worst? How many of you have stayed up late to get a bit more XP? Or blown off appointments with friends or family to keep working on that final level? Ditched school to be the first to finish a quest? I'll bet that there are some of you out there that made the infamous Bonus XP Weekend into a long Friday-to-Monday weekend.
Funny things happen when you finally do achieve something though. First, you are cynically congratulated on having a bunch of pixels. Second, you are instantly confronted with people that have done the exact same thing as you have, but better. And third, your face gets pressed on the things you HAVEN'T done.
And while you are working as hard as bots used to, you struggle for words when asked by unknowing loved ones what the appeal of this game really is. They just don't understand, do they? And before you know it, you'll have swapped your actual friend for a name in your friends list.
Replacement of friends also happens in the game itself. Eventually, people on your friends list grow out of the game, but not before you made many new additions to this list. It's not the list's fault - that just keeps perpetually renewing itself, and while everyone eventually grows tired of the game, you still have this or that goal to get.
Sooner or later you will be confronted with the total amount of time you spent on RuneScape. Because you have little to show for it other than some pixels and statistics, you're going to ask yourself if all that time was spent wisely, and before long, the worst of human conditions will set in: wondering what might have been.
I've been trying to think of a metaphor to compare "RuneScape vs Life". Skilling certainly isn't one of them, as frying that billionth egg doesn't make you an instant gourmet chef. Still, I wanted to convey the message aptly that you're playing a game that you cannot win. Then, on my way home from RuneFest, I saw it happening on the very street I was walking on.
RuneScape relates to Life as a smartphone does to walking with it. People are completely focussed and absorbed into it, until they are about to walk into that tree. It's up to you to not crash into it.