I was slow to get into online multiplayer games. When I was a kid, most multiplayer was in person (cue sad trombone over the “death” of couch multiplayer) and when I was older I just didn’t have interest. Most of my adult life has been spent in retail management. After spending all day interacting with so many people I tended towards being pretty asocial after work. I just didn’t have much interest in spending my freetime with anyone other than my close friends. Sometimes not even them.
Minecraft wasn’t my first ever experience with online multiplayer, but it was the one that had the greatest effect on me. I first found out about Minecraft while watching an online show – Video Games Awesome. (Great show, by the way. Warning that some shows have gotten “language-y” over the years, I’m not vouching for every single thing that’s come out of anyone’s mouths.) Anyway, not only was I starting to warm up to the VGA community, the game itself looked like something I’d enjoy.
I’m odd like that, at least in relation to most people I know. I’m super hesitant to buy a game *only* to play with my friends. I never want to be that person always pesting their friends to play something because I can’t enjoy it without them. Luckily, the exploration and creative bits of Minecraft had me very intrigued. It looked like a game I’d enjoy single player, but that multiplayer would add another dimension to. That was especially true since the VGA server was already well known for ginormous build challenges – no small feat on a vanilla survival server. (Meaning the server isn’t modded, and you can’t use any cheats. Each block used is something you’ve had to collect yourself, each area has its own lovely monsters to deal with.)
I joined the VGA server just before they started their second world, so there was a bit of a delay until I could actually play. I spent the time building on single player, getting used to what I could and coudn’t do. Trying to die less. I also applied to join a Minecraft community; that seemed safer than starting out on my own. I figured at least someone would say something if I was about to do something dumb.
I’m not sure I can state enough that isn’t normally my style. I don’t tend to join guilds, or cabals, or leagues with people I don’t know. Not out of loathing humanity – it’s just that I know I get into moods where I don’t feel like playing with other people. And I hate being in a position where I feel obligated to do so anyway.
The Minecraft community I joined, the VGA server as a whole, didn’t completely change that about me or anything. I don’t run around in games now, desperate to join a group. I’m still that annoying person on your friends list who’s in game but off doing her own thing when you wanted to run a dungeon. 😛 BUT my experiences in Minecraft and with the Renimar community DID help get me a little more willing to reach out. It taught me that some experiences in game can be better in a group, and that there are some genuinely awesome people out in the online gaming world.
I haven’t been on the server on a regular basis for some time, but I had the chance to go through some of the (now old) second world the other day. I was playing with screenshots and considering filming something from in world for a clip I was making for a friend’s show. I wound up using my older screenshots instead – some of them really were the best shots I could get. But while walking through old builds, I got to feel something other than, “Yay, I built this thing.” I got to remember the times building with friends. The diving board on my tower that one of the guys had added. The time another guy broke apart his castle, piece by piece, to make it look like an asteroid had hit and give us a mystery. The massively huge build under one of my towers that someone else did. Even the builds that I did myself had memories of other people giving advice, commenting, or just hanging out. Even my mooshrooms have a story thanks to a conversation I was having in chat while I was bringing them home! (*runs in circles and flails arms* in case Pseph ever sees this)
Online multiplayer gets a lot of flak for being toxic, and for good reason. I’ve been in games and on servers with a lot of hate speech and trolls; a lot of folks that make me question why it’s even worth trying. But I’ve also had these great experiences, first in Minecraft and later in The Secret World. Healthy game communities where maybe everyone doesn’t always agree, but they generally stay respectful. Places where I’ve met friends I can talk with even out of game. There is such a thing as safe, fun, and healthy online communities in gaming; I’m thankful for the chances I’ve had to experience that.
Bonus: Links to VGA vids for the super epic Dwarven Ruins adventure build I did with Renimar and the also epic Rocky Horror Picture Show build I did with NeoJapan and others. Not the only group builds I’m proud of, but two of my favorites. 🙂 I’m pretty sure swearing happens in the vids, if that sort of thing bothers you.