I've bee playing Everquest for over 10 years now. For those of you not familiar with MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), these are computer games about worlds that can be accessed at the same time by many customers at once. The world is persistent and things happen while you are not there. It's not like the old BBS (Bulletin Board System - anyone remember those?) games where one person dialed in and took their turn, then another, etc.
I was playing Diablo, usually the single player game, when it came out oh so many years ago. Then I decided to try the online capabilities. After playing a while, I ended up regularly playing with two other character. Then one day, they said I had to come with them and play "The Realm". This was one of the early MMORPGs, put out by Sierra Online. It's still out there, will a small community still playing. Though not owned by Sierra. This was my first intro to playing with lots of people, quests, guilds, etc. I joined the Guild of Lost Dragons (GoLD). A guild is a group of people who belong to the same "club". They can chat in game with everyone in the guild at the same time. Made friends and had a great time. Then, my two friends said I needed to get into Beta 3 of Everquest. Little did I know what I was getting in to.
What a unique game. Now remember, this is 1998. Great graphics, a huge world, lots of computer characters to interact with and LOTS of other people playing the same time you are. GoLD began an EQ chapter and my first character, Winelover, was born. He lasted a few levels but then I decided a Wood Elf Ranger would be better than a Half Elf Ranger. Thus Cabernet was born. I believe that was April 1998. For reasons I can't remember, I joined a new guild, Muse and Merriment (M&M) and made a whole new set of online friends. Then the Elven Wine Brigade when enough people left to play other games M&M fizzled out. I then "retired", as I was only playing on the weekends and my friends had leveled so much more than me that I could no longer group with them. I was around level 35 when I got discouraged and gave away everything I had. Closed my account.
And came back about a year and a half later. To a naked wood elf. (They had redone the graphics and Cabernet looked like a naked Ken doll when I first logged in! Think there was a graphic glitch as characters with no clothing usually show with a default set of clothes.) Sony graciously doesn't delete accounts so if you decide to come back you don't have to start over. My friends who still played got me geared back up. One of my old guild friends invited me to join the guild he was in, Evolution of Faith. Problem was, I wasn't the required level 46. They were extremely patient and supportive as I worked and worked and finally made level 46. And joined a great group of people. I made friends in that group I still am friends with today. We also had a guild we were allied with and went on raids with - Grave Wisdom. I became friends with several people in that guild. This came in handy later on. Evolution of Faith lost a few key people and eventually got a little too small to continue to advance through the game content. We then merged with League of Levity, which was a very good merger. But then some people grew frustrated with pace of advancement (can you say Blood Raids for Dreadspire access) and left for other guilds. LoL began to implode and I decided to join the people who had been so nice while I was in EoF, Grave Wisdom.
I am now happily ensconced with a great group of people who always have fun playing together. We have a lot of different personalities (and in an online game - you never know if they reflect the person who is sitting at the keyboard or if it is a persona that person wants to use) and that's what makes it fun. Like any family, there are the occasional clashes, but for the most part everyone gets along quite nicely. When you need help trying to do something in game, you can almost always find someone willing to help. We cheer others accomplishments and pull together to defeat big nasties in game for phat l3wtz. And our reputation must be pretty good, as we have a steady stream of applicants. There is a bulletin board were we can share everything from game info to books we've read to recipes we like and everything else under the sun (especially the bad jokes we run across) when we are not in game. And the occasional real life hardship or tragedy that will always elict real concern and support. Real friendship come out of these online communities.
Oh, that those two characters who got me into all this? Turns out they were two sisters, both older than me (and I am not young by your typical gamer standards) and at least one was a grandmother to boot! One from the Tampa area (serious Bucanners fan) and one from Louisiana (loves to dance). Haven't seen them around in a while, but will be forever grateful for meeting them online and becoming their friend. They led me into a world where you can make friends from all over the globe.
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