Have I got your attention now? Okay, here goes.
My son got me into online gaming nine or ten years ago with, specifically, EverQuest, aka EverCrack by addicted fans. Even if you’re not into gaming, you’ve probably heard of it. Anyway, it was something we could do “together” when he was away at school (or whatever he was doing back then). A couple of his friends, who used to come over to the house a lot, also played.
Son is a major geek* (to me that’s a term of endearment and utmost respect for superior intelligence and techie accomplishment) and used to play Dungeons and Dragons back when it was a sort of board game (no, it’s not an evil, corrupting, criminality-inducing activity, any more than, say, Monopoly, but that’s another post). When personal computers took over the world, online games quickly followed, especially those derived from D&D.
Hmm, I have digressed. Sorry. So he got me into EverQuest. What fun! Making up a character, choosing her looks, abilities, skills. Exploring new fantasy worlds full of knights, dragons, monsters, and enemy races; adventuring with other people; completing quests and being rewarded for your accomplishments; becoming friends with other people in-game, etc. Why should the kids have all the fun?
I’ve been playing similar games ever since. The ones I like are referred to as MMORPGs — Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. (“Massively multiplayer” translates to hundreds of thousands of people playing simultaneously around the world.) And tomorrow the newest one, Warhammer, starts public downloads of its open beta version. Sometime in the next few weeks, open beta will begin (over 800,000 have already signed up), and on September 18 the game goes live.
My dirty little secret, of course, is that I’m a female retiree and the majority of players in these games are young men. Luckily for me, a lot of middle-agers play too, and we eventually find each other (the teenagers can be particularly obnoxious sometimes). Lots of married couples play, and I’ve even found one or two other seniors playing. I’ve made several friends that I’ve played with for five or six years, through several different games, without ever meeting any of them in real life (I have a rule about that, but that, too, is another post).
There is such a predominance of male players in these games that most players, when they meet a female character, assume the person playing that character is male. And usually they’d be right. It always amazes me that so many guys choose to play female characters (I’ve tried playing male characters and I just can’t get into it. I can’t identify at all with a male character). My son explained that the female characters are more likely to be given weapons, supplies, etc. by other players. Another reason I’ve heard is that because the in-game camera angles have you looking at your character’s back most of the time, a lot of guys would rather spend their time looking at a female backside!
It’s always amusing to begin a new game and have most of the other players assume I’m a young man. I usually try very hard not to reveal my age. If I can play well enough to be accepted by others, then eventually I might fess up. That’s the beauty of these games, of course — you go to another place and become whoever or whatever you want to be. I’ll never forget the first friend I made in Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). We’d played together for weeks before we confessed our ages; he was 17. I was stunned, and so was he. The age preconceptions cut both ways.
There you have it. I’m a gamer. Warhammer open beta begins soon. If I suddenly become scarce around here, you’ll probably find me huddled over my big computer in a darkened study, exploring some weird fantasy world as a high elf, or a black orc, or maybe a squig herder.
*I once asked him what was the difference between a geek and a nerd. He said a geek was a nerd who could get a date.
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