Personal MMO History

I’d like to talk about the three MMOs that I currently have active accounts with, though I’m barely playing any of them, but first a little history.

I played a few MUDs in college. Specifically, as a computer lab monitor. And I was chastised by the boss lady for not yielding my seat at the end of my shift on one occasion because “I just have to finish one last thing” that took about 15 minutes. This was not a high point. Years later, as my time at CMU was coming to an end, I played Everquest for a few months, until I found myself getting bored fishing in game. And I remembered that fishing was something I didn’t like doing in reality, so why the hell was I doing it for pretend?

I think I stayed basically MMO free for another several year stint after that, until I moved to Minneapolis, and met Brian (aka, ludomancer. He was playing Final Fantasy XI (FFXI), the first Final Fantasy MMO. I thought it looked cool, and I loved the final fantasy series, generally speaking, so I gave it a whirl. And actually plunked more down on a video card than I spent on the game itself so that I could run it. At first, I spent a great deal of time trying to explore the crafting systems, and not so much joining parties with internet strangers to grow in levels. The game wasn’t built with this in mind, and I think Brian found my fascination with this point a little odd. He encouraged me to go for the higher levels and branch out. Which I eventually did, though I never got close to the maximum level for the game, and always liked the crafting system.

The summer of my internship with my current employer, I was new in town after 4 years away, and had just been exposed to World of Warcraft (WoW). I tried it in part because I had an Apple laptop and FFXI wouldn’t run on it, this being the pre-x86 architecture Macs, and I wasn’t about to move my tower for a three month internship. So, I gave WoW a whirl. I was pretty intensely into it for a couple weeks. But I didn’t know anyone who played it, and it mostly fizzled for me after that. I went back to playing FFXI when I returned to Minneapolis, and kept it up until my credit card changed, and I realized (mid-way through entering the new credit card info in early April) that graduation was more important than leveling up, and let the game go.

I started playing WoW for real in the span between grad school and work, when I embarked on the biggest travel spree of my life (so far). I spent a month and change in Europe (first time ever!) then spent several weeks with my peeps in the bay area. I really started with WoW in California. Spending time with them, and knowing I’d be seeing much less of them soon, it was actually fun to play the game socially, and join them in taking characters from the beginning of the game through to max level, together. And Nathaniel, aka tyedie joined us not long thereafter, rounding us out to 5 (the preferred number for the in-game group activities).

We almost made it to max level as a group before the first expansion came out. We did make it to max level before the next expansion came out, but we’d already started to “lose friends to real life” at that point. I recruited some people to join us, as did my other friends. And it was a point of personal pride for me at one point that I’d met everyone we played with in person. And, technically, I was the only one who had. But real life is relentless, and more people stopped playing. And due to some factors that disadvantaged smaller guilds, some started playing with different groups that were more oriented towards accomplishing the higher level game challenges.

But probably one of the biggest hits to my involvement was taking an active role in my union. I regret nothing. I continued to pay for WoW for quite some time after I’d functionally stopped playing it. And there were brief times when I got more involved in the game, particularly a few months after the beginning of each expansion, but it was essentially over for me. I let my subscription end in November. But like cutting off a hydra’s head, others rose to take its place. And that will be the subject of my next post.