Welcome my fellow Wizards and Witches! Normally, I would of posted the new segment of Character Chronicles about Dwarves for this month, but the Character Chronicles series from now will be a “sister segment” to RPHQ’s upcoming podcast about character Archetypes, which will be hosted by Keyrel, and narrated by yours truly. Due to this collaboration, Character Chronicles while still being posted on my blog page, will surface simultaneously with the new podcast.

Fear not though my magical friends, because for this month I will be debuting my third and final solo series called MMO IMPACT. A series that talks about the social etiquette and stories within MMORPGs and the kind of implications they can have on everyday life in the real world.

And at the end in addition to voting on future topics to be discussed, you will also get opportunities to share your thoughts along with mine about each topic, with an open ended discussion at the end…where you will even have a chance to earn special prizes.

So without further ado, let’s start the discussion about MMORPGs, and their IMPACT.

TOPIC OF THE MONTH: First MMO Experience

To start off this series, what better topic to share then that of your very first MMORPG experience?

Whether you’re a PS4, Xbox, or Computer gamer (like me), there is no doubt that the first MMORPG a gamer plays is an experience that can hold many emotions for them. Most notable of those emotions would be ones of awe and nervousness. That was such an experience I had for my first MMO.

However, to truly have my experience make sense to you all, I’ll first need to share with you a bit of my past and how it lead me to becoming the gamer I am today.

A long time ago, in a land far away, a baby was born roughly 20 years after the birth of the internet and the Computer and Electronic Age was in its infancy. This child however was not like most children born into that era…for this child, was different…

I was born prematurely due to drug and alcohol abuse. This lead to growing up with a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy. While there is no single case of Cerebral Palsy that is the same, for me, it affected my ability to walk independently on my own, have control over my left arm and hand, and hinder my ability to understand many academic subjects like math and history due to a brain bleed I suffered during birth.

The struggles I faced however didn’t just exist in the physical sense but social and emotional as well…especially during my high school career.

Unlike most students are in school, I struggled to participate in many academic activities and hold my own with my grades, as the majority of them—mostly C’s and B’s—were thanks to the collaboration of both my parents and I…graduating wouldn’t of been possible without them.

All the help in the world with my grades however, couldn’t prepare me for the social hardships I had to deal with as a person living with a disability. Many days, I had to be left out of school events or activities because they were either too physically demanding or I couldn’t understand the rules. As you can imagine, this put a damper on trying to have a social life.

To cope with my social hardships, I early on gravitated towards artwork, drawing everything I could learn…from Disney to superheroes and even anime.

But it wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I found a social outlet that I truly thought would put me on equal standing with my peers…technology. With computers, I could completely eliminate the physical wall that I thought was keeping me from succeeding in the social world.

No longer would I be looked at funny by those passing by for how I walked, or be excluded from activities just because of a lack of physicality or understanding.  I could just find a place to share my ideas and play with others…and so began my journey towards finding online games…a place where entertainment and freedom from the limited physical world (at least for me), collided.

Like I’m sure with most of the online gaming population, my first MMORPG was the juggernaut World of Warcraft, and while I may no longer play it for various reasons, I will never forget my first steps into the land called Azeroth.

It was 2004, and I was sitting at home watching television when a commercial for an online MMORPG called World of Warcraft came on.

“Join millions of players online right now, in the most popular game of the year!”

“What’s the big deal, it can’t be THAT addicting.” I thought to myself.

One month and $60 bucks later, I was no longer just a young man trying to find his place in the social world, I was “Nightshaft” Night Elf Hunter of the Alliance (Though over time I did play both factions).

I almost instantly fell in love with not only the graphics of the game, but the premise of the entire thing.

A fantasy world where you could be or do whatever you wanted.  Every virtual step I took led me closer to revelations that I personally could never find in reality.  I could jump up and down, run for miles, ride a horse, go swimming, and even use both hands to wield heavy weapons or objects…simple activities that were once out of reach, were now being obtained with just one click.

I became addicted like the commercial hinted I would, though not for the gameplay but for the active possibilities and how it made me feel. Sure, going on quests was fun, but I often found myself just wanting to go exploring or go for a walk more than leveling up (which probably is why I never reached any level pass 30), but I didn’t care…I was getting what I wanted out of the game…a sense of normalcy.

But the one thing I was most excited about was the socialization that I knew this game would eventually lead me to encounter.

Being able to achieve physical success through the virtual world, gave me the confidence I so desperately desired at a young age that would allow me to assert myself into social situations. Eventually the confidence I gained lead me to experience a lot of social firsts… Such as my first guild experience, my first dungeon run with a small group of players and even my first real crush on a girl.

Within a year I was far from the nervous young man I used to be in high school, actively socializing in a guild, going up and roleplaying in taverns and offering to help others with quests.

All the growth as a person though, also brought forth the not-so-fun side of gaming…soon showing me those who would use games and the anonymity of the internet to tease and even break up with others…

Despite my early hardships though, I stuck with the game until its first official expansion, Burning Crusade, until I realized that while MMORPG’s were giving me an outlet for socialization, it was (World of Warcraft in particular) hurting my finances and keeping me from getting what little exercise I could achieve, to stay as physically healthy as was possible for me. But I didn’t want to give up gaming…

After all, it was the one thing that in my eyes turned me into a confident socialite and broke me out of my shy turtle shell.

So around the year 2008, I made the choice to stop buying game cards for World of Warcraft and opted to search for free to play MMORPGs where I could split my time more evenly for health reasons.

But there were still questions in my mind: Could I find the social growth I had experienced, once more from different games? If so, what kind of people would I encounter? What would the social pros and cons be if I decided to keep this as an on-going hobby?

I’ll admit, I’m still answering some of those questions, but if it wasn’t for my experience playing World of Warcraft, I wouldn’t have posed those questions, become the confident person I am today and eventually found my way to other games and my audience here at RPHQ.

And so my fellow Wizards and Witches, I have a question for you: What was your first MMORPG experience, and how did it affect the person you have become?

Tell me your answer and you might win the upcoming prize, A Smiley Squad Badge. You’ll not only be able to display it on your profile for others to see, but earn a friend request from yours truly and get early notifications to all my blog posts!

The forum submissions and voting period for this article has closed, and will no longer count towards any prizes. However, I encourage anyone reading this to head over to the forum section and if they wish, continue to share their first MMO Experience. Forum Discussion is ALWAYS welcome :)