And here I had a big plan for when I went on holiday. That I would take my iPad and write a blog post or two while I was in Sydney with the parentals. And then I discovered that blogger and safari don't mix very well. So... it didn't happen.
I had the great pleasure of meeting for the first time, face to face, one of my great World of Warcraft friends. At the age of sixteen, I was playing World of Warcraft and I met this woman. She was a Night Elf Warrior with an attitude and a half, and I was a Human Warlock with a superiority complex. Funny thing now is that I am not a Human Warlock, but a Rattatki Sith Assasin, and I'm not sure what she is today.
We met approximately 5 years ago when I joined a guild called Chaotic Army. Before people ask about it, don't. Anyway, we met and we actually became friends. We got to know each other. At the time she was living in Melbourne and I was living with my then single father in Adelaide. She was an only child and I felt like one at that stage, and we bonded. But none the less, we are friends even though we don't cross paths in the World of Warcraft or the world of the Old Republic.
We met for the first time face to face on the driveway of my Mother's house; with my Mother in the background. My Mother was perplexed at the fact we had known each other for around 5 years but only just now met face to face.
This is one of those weird evolutions of the MMORPG worlds and the whole evolution of Facebook and Twitter. However it is more prevelant in the gaming area. You assume a new identity in game - I was a 5ft7 female human of latin descent. I controlled demons and used shadow and fire magic to cripple, debilitate, torture, maim and incinerate my friends, foes and generally anyone I didn't like. But behind that I was a sixteen (fifteen when I started) year old guy barricaded in my bedroom living a life I wish I could live for real.
MMO's and RPG's in general offer a new level of escapism for gamers. With the additions of voicing the protagonists; such as your 'hero' in Star Wars: The Old Republic, Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, and Hawke in Dragon Age II, you are pulled in that little bit further into the world. I know that I am holding up a big proverbial BioWare banner right now, but lets face it - there is a reason they are successful (!!!).
Yes I get drawn into the game by the graphics and the guns, lightsabres, blasters, biotic powers, swords, magic, etc. But the longevity is in the whole experience. The amalgamation of narrative, dialogue, storytelling in general, voice acting, music composition, environmental design, fashion design, and more is what keeps a game going. The ability to make the player feel like they are sitting (or standing) in the shoes (or boots) of the protagonist. Because of the ability for the player to manipulate the game themselves, and feel like that are in charge of their own story, give longevity to the game.
MMO's have a different aspect all together which is the social aspect. Not only your story, accomplishments and feats of strength, but the friends you make. Yes on screen they are a culmination of one's, zero's and pixels. But on the other end of your internet connection is another person - someone to interact with.
I have met a lot of amazing people of four and a half years of World of Warcraft. I have met some great people already in 3 months of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those people I meet, some come and go just like friends I meet at work, at the pub or where ever else I may be, but there are some that stay; just like my Night Elf Warrior... oh(!) and the Human Paladin who turned out to be a Gnome Rogue...