It may be strange for some of you to hear this, but a video game changed my life.
For those of you who don’t know my online gaming history, I spent a few years of my high school life being addicted to a certain MUD–a text-based online role-playing game. If any of you have watched .hack//Sign or Sword Art Online, this was near the level of immersion I experienced during that time. The people were real, the drama was real, the combat was frantic and with social consequence. I never met the real people behind their aliases, but they were real to me. I felt friendship, sorrow, anger, and even love. This “second-life” experience spoiled me to the advent of 3D graphical “MMORPGs”. All they seemed to me were fancy puppets running around dice-rolling things without any emotional or social context. I have never had success with online gaming since then.
This was true until earlier this year, when I accidentally stumbled upon WildStar. I fell in love within the first five minutes of sifting through the website. I loved everything about it. A game that actually wants to challenge its players. A skill-based game with much PvP potential without being a MOBA. A departure from the oft-depressing fantasy settings with both over-the-top humor and a super-serious storyline. It felt like the game I had been waiting for over a decade to play.
Wait, wait… to be clear, the game in itself didn’t actually change my life. What did, is the chain of events which happened right after it launched.
As I played the game in its infancy, I began watching the live streams from the developers. This led me to creating fan-art (well, fan-music). This prompted me to create a forum account, a Reddit account, and a Twitter account–all of which I’ve never touched in my life–just so I could get my work to the devs. I was new to this section of the online world, and it was eye-opening. All of these people were within arm’s reach. If I spoke to them, they responded back. This was the true magic of the Internet.
When the hype-bubble burst after a relatively smooth launch, I was very upset. I wasn’t mad at the game. I was mad with the “perception” of the game; how everyone seemed to forget that raiding was marketed by the company to be there to please the dedicated players, yet somehow, that became the sole purpose of the game. There was a mad-dash to level-cap and the raid attunement process. The whole game was left behind in the dust, including the “regular”-difficulty adventures and dungeons–the stepping stones to the attunement process.
As a witness to this mob-phenomenon, I was dumbstruck. I felt a strong anger well up, as well as an urge to say something. I began to write. I shared my writings to a few prominent members of the community through Twitter who helped to share my sentiments. As the game ambled on, my anger subsided, but I kept writing. I started a Tumblr blog to write down more of my thoughts outside of the forums, and that was when I saw a tweet recruiting writers for a WildStar Community Magazine. I had never written for the public before, but I had discovered in myself a new passion and I applied for a position. I am still contributing there today. That’s not all. Spurred by a Christmas initiative started by a blogger/podcaster whose works I have come to quickly admire, I felt compelled to start my own proper blog; an avenue to talk about the things I really care about–things I normally wouldn’t or couldn’t say aloud in a casual setting.
What is the result of me purchasing and subscribing to this one game? For one, it is a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy, whenever I can find the time to jump in and have fun. It also helped to uncover a joy and talent that I didn’t realize I had buried inside. I wouldn’t be writing here today if it weren’t for this game and its developers’ involvement with their fans. I have also discovered a wonderful gaming community that I didn’t know I had access to. With this, for the first time in my life, I am starting to get a feeling for what “community” really means–something I will talk more about in my upcoming spot on Syl’s Bloggy Christmas Countdown (Dec 18th). So if any of you devs are reading this, just know that you have, at the very least, affected the life of one person greatly.