trolls, or even Corgi and Matchbox cars. Any obect that spoke its personality to me could be a player in an impromptu, creative, dramatic experience.
I stumbled into a job at Kesmai in 1993, one of the earliest developers of multiplayer online games, where I discovered the joys and pitfalls of alternate realities. I became a devoted player of Legends of Kesmai, a thief named SoSneaky.
|Source for this LOK screenshot: Shadow Bay Sentinel|
There were many things to love about the Legends of Kesmai gameplay and cultural milieu. In an open-ended quest and advancement-oriented persistent world, the player is an adventurer whose experience is tailored to his own preferences. There is a continuously developing, creative cultural richness, a special magic to shared online worlds that single-player games cannot hope to approximate. The people I met, from around the world, were amazing, heroic, and entertaining. Sharing jokes, misfortunes, terrors, and triumphs is a wonderful experience. Cooperative, player-vs-environment gameplay was enjoyable, despite the lack of shared experience points, and the players themselves created standards for social conduct. Guilds (player societies) were important social structures. Player-vs.-player gameplay --killing people (well, their avatars)-- was just too aggressive for me. Like most women (and many men), we prefer to be on a team and destroy monsters together, yay!
As an RPG avatar, I had capabilities, power, and social value that I could not approach in life. That sounds pathetic. But my inner condition is one of constant tension between rejecting the world, and feeling incompetent to live a life in the world. I kick over the slop-filled bucket and then cry because nothing is left. I search for good clean water to fill my bucket, find only polluted water, and in the end, I give up hope.
Or did I just not yet find the right MMORPG?
To come: My life as an avatar, part 2: Everquest