I’ve mentioned before, though briefly, that I’ve played my share of MMORPGs. I think I should confess that the only reason I’m not still playing them (and thus slacking on my writing) is because I started raiding so much that I hurt my wrists.
And thus ended my professional off-tank career.
I sometimes miss those games, but I recognize now that I played them way more for the people than for the games themselves. But let’s delve into my gaming past, shall we?
I think I was ten or twelve when I started playing D&D (well…it was probably AD&D 2nd Edition, but I’m generalizing). There was a boy who lived near me who was into it, Brian, and I think he would run games — I think I was a kender in the first game I played — but what I remember better is running the games myself, for my brother and his friends. I also ran ‘talking’ games for my cousins, where we didn’t have dice or anything but we’d go walk around the block and I’d talk us through a dungeon. Freeform, as it were.
I might have mentioned that stuff before.
But around the age of 11, we got AOL on the computer, and I immediately found the roleplaying chatrooms. That was back in the day when you paid per hour, and the first time my dad got a $300 AOL bill, he deleted all the AOL icons to keep me from logging in.
So I found the program in the directory and ran it from there.
So he took away the modem cord.
So I used the one from the house phone.
So he took away the keyboard.
I couldn’t get around that part, alas.
He says now that he should have paid more attention to my apparent compulsion and bought some stock in AOL back then, because this was right at the beginning of the big internet explosion. Alas, how was he to know? But after AOL went to a monthly fee, I was allowed to have my account back.
And I spent all my time online. There were a few particular places — the Red Dragon Inn, the Duel of Swords, et cetera — that I couldn’t seem to stay away from, and I actually started fleshing out a lot of my writing-characters in those initial internet forays. Playing them against/alongside real people instead of just scribbling about them to myself.
I also started a personal trend that I’m still having a hard time breaking: I played male characters. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m female. At age 11, however, I had already decided that I didn’t want to be hit on by internet guys, so I opted to play them instead. Didn’t matter if they were wizards, werewolves, elves, assassins — I was gonna blend in so I didn’t have to deal with potential relationship stuff.
(Little did I know that I’d see the other side of relationship stuff, but it was a good idea at the time.)
I also played in an online Elfquest group, Grey Falls Holt, but that was a weekly thing, not an open-24/7 deal like the RDI. Still, it introduced me to the fandom and a lot of great people (who I’m no longer in contact, alas, because dammit I was 12 or so and kind of flaky), and also to writing short stories in another person’s world/alongside other people’s stories. We had a little fanzine, I still have a binder full of them.
So for a while I traipsed through the holt and some general fantasy roleplay rooms, with such characters as Foxtracks, Shaidaxi Enkhaelen (Shadix back then), Kehrin Nomansson and Darkmir Keth. I made some friends, played in some awesome storylines, fleshed out these imaginary people in my head.
Then I hit college.
I found a gaming group almost immediately — there was a guy in one of my classes who I either saw with a game-book or heard talking about a game, so I camped out near him with one of my own game-books until he noticed and came over to talk to me. (I did the same thing in high school. I was shy, but at least I was good at giving signals!) That group was playing World of Darkness stuff, so I dove into that, and naturally I started taking my college-game characters onto the internet to play them in chat-rooms too.
Found a bunch of WoD chronicles. Ran around in one as a kinda shaky Technocrat. Befriended a moody werewolf.
The werewolf introduced me to EverQuest.
(Well, the werewolf’s player, but it sounds more dramatic when I say it that way.)
The next ten years of my life were basically eaten by EverQuest and World of Warcraft. And Lineage II. And Ryzom, a little (I really wanted to play but my computer couldn’t handle it), and Ragnarok, and Requiem, and Guild Wars…
I’m serious. There’s about a five-year period where I think I just sat in the back room of my folks’ house and gamed all day long. I still wrote — I actually wrote a lot — but it was mostly gameworld material, about my characters in those games, and though a lot of those characters were based on or became characters in my series, much more of that material won’t ever be of use to me.
Not saying I didn’t have a great time, because I did. I developed a small but strong core group of friends, including my cover artist (the werewolf), my pseudo-editor (Erica) and several of my excellent beta readers. I roleplayed my brains out — for the most part, because though I’d initially started all those games with RP friends, I seemed to inevitably get drawn into raiding, because I was pretty good at the kicking-butt aspect of the games too and enjoyed leading/organizing/participating in raids. Man, I still remember handling loot in EverQuest pickup raids as Furiel, my dark elf rogue. Yes, they let the rogue handle the loot. Those FOOLS.
(Kidding. I was an awesome lootmaster. I dragged a lot of corpses too. Dammit, I miss those days.)
Even as I grudgingly acquiesced to reality, got a job, etc, I kept playing. I had already been playing with the werewolf and co. on IRC for years and years; we had abandoned AOL for the greener pastures of MMORPGs but after we trickled away from the first game (EverQuest), we needed somewhere to stay together, because we’d all started drifting to different games. So there was always IRC to come back to, to play some good old AOL-style chat games.
And then came Vanguard, and Aion, and Second Life, and EverQuest 2, and The Secret World. I bounced around the MMO universe with other friend-groups, some attached to the werewolf and others to my post-college DM, or to my bunny friend — whom I’d met as that aforementioned dark elf rogue Furiel, and whom I’d kind of accidentally romanced as him, because that seems to be what happens when girls play male characters on the internet. Other girls jump on them.
(Seriously. My characters had girlfriends all over the place. Most of them didn’t even try, and were kind of confused about why it was happening. Poor Jack.)
I was just trying to play them as people, as human beings. Which naturally involves getting close to other people. Some of whom got attached. Very attached. It was kind of bizarre, but as an asocial person (and not a man) it taught me a lot about how these things go. I’ll never write romance, though. Sorry, Erica.
Anyway, as stated, I ended up playing MMOs so much that I broke myself. Happened last year (I think, though it might be two years ago now — time flies when you’re busy). I’d joined a raid group on EverQuest 2 with my badass bruiser Dasira, whom you will sort of meet in book 2. (I think I ended up making all of my main cast in EQ2 by the end of my stint there.) Initially I was just there because the raid group was stuck on a tricky encounter that needed one of each kind of fighter and they didn’t have a bruiser/monk type, but I stuck with them after that and I guess they liked me (and I tend to be stupidly reliable), because eventually I worked my way up to being the off-tank. And sometimes the main tank. Pretty good for a chick in leather armor.
And yes, she was one of the few female characters I’d ever played — one of maybe three I’d played seriously. Dasira on EQ2, Crowstorm and Shadowlark on WoW. Though not sure Lark counts as serious. And I wasn’t roleplaying with Crow.
Wow. Okay, I have a terrible track-record with female characters.
I think that’s one of the reasons I’m pushing books 2 and 3 in the direction they’re going. And the rest of the series too. Making up for lost time? Examining my own issues? I don’t know. I suppose we’ll see.
Anyway, I raided so much and for so long and with such a bad setup that I started getting shooting pains up both arms and losing some feeling in my fingers. Fantastic. So I had to quit.
At this point in my life, I can’t say I really miss it. My core friend-group was in the original EverQuest; after that, we all scattered, and though I picked up a few other friends along the way, most of those drifted into the ether once I left those games. My main group of friends is still those original EQ players. Nothing has ever really compared, and at this point I’d say I’m retired from MMORPGs. I have other things to do, and less time to waste.
I still play on IRC though. Dammit, Shai will defeat the Commander and destroy the Ice with the power of his awesome volcano if it’s the last thing he does!
For anyone interested, I don’t want to directly post these, but I have a gallery of book-related characters done up in the character creator from the Aion game here. Games have always been fantastic at helping me visualize my people, in addition to all the fleshing-out that roleplaying gives them, so I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity for all of this, even if for a while it was more like a compulsion.
(Yes, the women are all a bit chesty. Sigh. No options to adjust that, of course.)