Back in about 2000, my not yet husband gave me my first computer game, Asheron’s Call. It’s one of those massively multiplayer on-line role playing games (MMORPGs). I’ve been playing essentially continuously since the fall of 2000. It’s one of those games where every month the developers provide new content via the monthly patch or update. There have also been two major updates to the game since release. It’s quite different than when I first started.
My first real character, Tarma, was born January 23, 2001 on the world of Winter’s Ebb. I spent quite a lot of time in game with her – 3 months, 4 days, 16 hours and change (yes more than 800 real life hours with just this one character were spent in game). She has a very big house (err mansion) and more belongings than I realized as I tried to consolidate two accounts today. Each account can have 6 or 7 characters each of whom can carry many items. So while I have many characters spread on various worlds, my real avatar is Tarma, shown here looking at her in game home. Somehow she ended up being a Monarch.
Like many MMORPGs, Asheron’s Call has allegiances. Egad, if you are responsible at all you end up an officer with additional responsibilities; it can be like a 2nd job “running” a guild. I was in several guilds over the years. Guild politics are identical to office politics if you are curious. Management styles vary. It is probably great leadership experience running some of the guilds of 1000’s. Some run well for years while others implode after just months. This game is somewhat unusual in that many women play (not just teen boys role-playing women) as do many working professionals in their 30’s and 40’s.
It’s funny, I’ve met several people from this virtual world. Some have become real world friends. I think for me, the best thing that Asheron’s Call did was teach me to talk to strangers. I could not do this when I started. But in Asheron’s Call, many quests could not be done solo; team efforts were needed. You had to talk to and work with strangers to move forward. So many conversations started “Hi [toon name], want to do a quest together?” or “Hi, want to join my allegiance?” or “Hi, let’s go try that new quest…”
Somehow this experience has made it infinitely easier for me to walk up to a complete stranger with a smile on my face to say “Hi, I’m Cathy…”
I canceled one of my accounts today. There just has not been time recently to play. I suspect I may cancel my main account soon. I will miss Tarma but I think it’s time for her to fade away. Of course I did just make sure I could cover 6 more months of rent payments on the mansion but it’s time to let her go. I think I’ll miss her. She was pretty much invincible.