So three years ago, I realized I had lost touch with my gaming roots. That is, somewhere after many days of Dungeons & Dragons in high school (we started the original “blue box” D&D basic set back in 1977 and played the original Ultima and Wizardry series for the Apple II), I had graduated college, started working and actually making a decent living. Somewhere in there I opened a bookstore and ran it well for 5 good years. My brother, who I had gamed with many times back in our high school days had kept up with his gaming, but had turned over to computer gaming as his main hobby – mostly due to the fact that our friends were now spread across the country, and all of us were strapped for time. I listened in envy as he described playing Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest and ultimately of course World of Warcraft. In there were mixed any number of “first person shooters” – Doom, Half Life, Thief, Call of Duty, and so on…
I mainly stuck with our tabletop gaming, and managed to squeeze in time to play RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu every so often, but even that grew less as time running a bookstore as well as working a full time job took over most waking hours.
Then came the market crash of 2008 hit along with the social networking and e-book craze, and suddenly the book store was out of the picture. I’ll talk about that whole adventure another time, but for the first time in five years, I had my weekends back. And strangely enough, even though there were still tabletop gamers around, the gaming landscape had changed too. My brother had followed it; it was all online.
There was only one thing to do – catch up. I headed online, downloaded World of Warcraft and signed up for the year membership. Many people will say I’m already behind the curve with that pick, but it was the logical place to start. It had 12 million subscribers at the time, so it certainly was popular, and seemed like a good way to get to know which way things were going. More recently, I’ve checked out Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2 (still not released), Lord of the Rings Online, Dark Fall, Eve Online, and in the non-multiplayer universe, DragonAge and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
So in this and future columns, I’ll be commenting on these games and lots of other stuff from the perspective of a newbie online gamer and old-time tabletop roleplayer – and possibly interviewing my brother so he can set me straight! Given the flexibility and ability for addons, I will be looking primarily at PC games, but if a console game for the XBOX or Playstation is doing something extraordinary, I’ll take a peek at those as well.
So thanks for listening – glad to have you along for the ride!