Posted by: shatteredblog | May 3, 2008

Original?

So this story begins with Everquest. Not my videogame experiences, that was on the Atari 2600… not my online gaming life either, as we used to use TCP/IP to connect our DOS games way back when. No, I mean the story of what it really means to be a part of an online community, to be a persistent personality in a persistent world that continues even when you leave it. That is the story I want to tell, and that story begins with Everquest.

I came back to that world a week ago, after leaving it three years before. I didn’t hold onto any nostalgic nonsense like ‘nothing will be changed’ or ‘my friends will all be waiting for me’, but the romance in my soul said maybe there will be some of the magic I remember left in that world to reclaim when I get back. So, for four hours after logging in when I did see someone I recognized, it hit me just how different the familiar world I was stepping into had become when they sent me a one word /tell.

original?

The question is the most logical thing in the world of course, after all I’d been gone for over three years. Even before I left, for all Sony tried to do to stop it account selling was common. After many people left it became even more so. But what does it say about the nature of the world when a friend who was close to you assumes that it can’t be the same person controlling that avatar that it used to be? The changes to that world are well beyond just a new level cap, a new UI and new content. It is a new community, and therefore a whole new world.

In a way, that’s a refreshing thing to find out. It makes the next step easier, and I’m glad that before starting a new avatar in a new world I came back to Everquest first. When I decided to start a blog and talk about videogames I wanted to be able to walk away from recreating my Everquest experience in Azaroth or Cyrodiil or wherever fortune and chance lead me. I wanted to be able to play a part that was shaped by the new game, not the old. Even if I am the same player using the same keyboard and mouse behind the screen each avatar is a different and important part of my personality. I don’t think you can conform your play in any game to match what it was in another, and even if you could I wouldn’t want to.

How do you answer a question like ‘original?’ Well, I think you say ‘this is Kanad, and I am Tom.’ This world is what we make it, and it is a world that changes with every passing day.

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