When I look back at my first Massive Multiplayer Online experience (around 2005), I remember the feeling of wonder. It was so amazing to be in an online virtual environment, surrounded by moving three-dimensional representations of other people online. I could interact with them virtually, and together we could run around a beautifully rendered landscape fighting fantastical beasts and vanquishing great evils. Much cooler looking and way more fun than real life was at that point.
I was a single mother living in a one-bedroom apartment with my toddler and attempting to finish college while working several jobs. Escaping from the harsh realities of my daily existence was something that saved me from what could have been a complete and total mental burnout. The friend who introduced me to Final Fantasy XI, paid my way until I could get my own account and ran me through my first few instances will always be dear to me -time and distance aside.
When I left Final Fantasy a few years later, I told myself I’d never give in to the toonish and way too popular World of Warcraft. My husband played, as well as most of his/our friends, and eventually the pull became to strong to resist. I started a Warlock, leveled to around 10 in my first sitting and was drawn into what would be my next torrid affair with MMO’s, stretching on for five years on and off. During those years I got married, struggled through my husband’s Twink phase, had another child, and finally quit smoking cigarettes for good.
Although I eventually came to love the game, I did cheat on WOW for maybe a year or so with Dungeons & Dragons Online. Fantasy will forever be my favorite genre, and D&D has a special place in my heart for encompassing everything a daydreamy only child could want. I mostly played because my friends IRL had started up a guild and I wanted to play with them.
Eventually, however, my family felt the strain that two gamer-parents can put on a household and my husband and I both took a break from our PC desks. We still had our tabletop games to fall back on, and fall back we did. As I write this, our two year Shadowrun campaign continues every other Saturday night, and we’ve been playing D&D on Mondays for the past several months. We have the experience and the stability now to take on a new MMO experience, and we have been lucky enough to know the developers of an awesome info site for Star Wars: The Old Republic.
This blog just had to happen. My children are growing strong in the force (that mystical draw that keeps pulling you back into gaming) and I know from experience that the reed which does not bend will eventually splinter and break. They must learn ways to manage their on and offline activities, and the discipline to bring home their math homework. We will undertake this together -all four of us- and we will learn to master space and time, using the tools we all will bring to the table.
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