I got an email today from Sony about a new expansion for Everquest, the first MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which goes to show that the video game industry seriously need to work on their acronyms. Can’t they come up with something cool, like VIPRE or STELTH or something?) I had ever heard of. Way back in (I think) 1999, I read a magazine article about this game that was coming out, that allowed you to make your own character, choosing their race and their class and customizing your appearance, just old-school tabletop gaming allowed, but now in a world populated with other players all over the world. My mind was blown. I had to get this game.
I talked Lady Aravan into trying it, and after buying a new video card, we fired it up. Immediately, we were hooked. We’d played computer games before together, mostly hotseating Masters of Orion II, but nothing like this. We’d alternate playing while the other one watched over the shoulder. At the time, the first person perspective as an adventurer in this huge world – I mean, it blew me away. We ended up buying a second computer and another copy so we could each play, a groundbreaking thing for us. Now, of course, we have 3 PCs apiece, along with a laptop and Xbox360 for each of us, but there is no way on earth that it would be like that today if it wasn’t for Everquest.
So many moments, like a vacation that was taken in our living room. The dark dank tunnel to Blackburrow, which forced us to keep torches in the bank for the inevitable corpse run. Falling in the tree in the same zone and dying, surrounded by a savage pack of bloodthirsty and brutal gnolls, and sadly writing off the corpse as unretrievable, and days later getting a tell from someone in the depths who volunteered to loot it and keep whatever he wanted, but giving us the rest, and being ECSTATIC about it. The first time in the Karanas, running with a pack of barbarians, seeing the wider world for the first time, and watching us all get stomped to death by a hill giant by the gypsy camp. Waiting for the boat to go to Faydwer in Freeport, talking with other people waiting, spamming new languages in groupchat to teach everyone else the skill.
So many memories and feelings that some random video game can conjure. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and I am saddened to think it may never happen again. It feels lame, expounding on such good and bad times that a group of pixels generated, but every time I talk to a fellow EQ gamer, we get that misty-eyed faraway look of travelers who’d been somewhere special, our own Shangri-La, and still carry it inside with us. The game impacted my real life, as well. My best friend, and Lady Aravan’s as well, was met in the graffiti-covered walls of Runnyeye over ten years ago, and he moved to Florida to be near us, then came with us to Delaware. Dismiss it as lame gamer geekhood, but Everquest seriously impacted my life. I miss it, sometimes, the anticipation of getting home from work and logging on, before the shoes came off or clothes got changed, seeing who was online, picking where we’d be hunting that night, or sometimes doing nothing but travelling for hours in order to get somewhere to hunt the next day. It was amazing, and I’ll always be grateful to Brad McQuaid, and Verant Interactive, and Sony, for making that trip possible.