MMORPG’s are a fascinating genre; players dwell in a persistent world, connect with thousands to millions of others just like them, and most importantly, are often all working hard to achieve a similar goal. For some, it’s being in a powerful guild, others want to make a lot of friends. Maybe, it’s just to strive to be the best. I’ve had many great experiences on MMO’s during my prime, but like anything else, too much of a good thing can easily turn bad. I kept a diary for 15 7 days of playing the MMORPG Ragnarok Online, documenting both the positive and negative effects of me getting back into playing it again. Obviously, results from “experiments” such as this may vary from person to person, but upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see why such a successful genre is still so very controversial.
It’s definitely good to be back. I have a few days before my finals start, but I’ll only play RO during my study breaks. I doubt the people from my old guild are still around anyway. When I quit, the game was very repetitive for me, and all of the comrades that I cared about were leaving one by one. Ragnarok is seven years old, and it’s amazing so many people still playing this game. I guess when my guild was already pretty successful, there wasn’t much incentive to continue playing. Since that urge to grind and climb up to the top has been diminished, there’s nothing else to really do besides participate in bi weekly guild wars. A couple close friends have been pulling me on to play again for about a year now, and I’ve finally given in to their demands. We’ll see where this goes. I’m not joining another guild, so I’ll be free of many of the obligations that made me quit this game in the first place. My only goal is focusing on hitting level 99 on my main character. After that, perhaps I’ll quit again, who knows. I’ve missed a couple years worth of new content, so there has to be a number of activities to keep me busy here, right?
Quitting an MMO and coming back to it after a long absence is the equivalent of being sent to prison for twenty five years. Once you’re finally out, nothing seems the same. Some of the same people may be around, but they’ve definitely grown and changed while you were away. Back when I played, our server used to be a miniature community; everyone was generally friendlier to each other, and the atmosphere was a lot more intimate, in a way. Now, partying with random players is a crapshoot, because more often than not, many of them are rude, and don’t bother to strike up a casual conversation while leveling. If it hadn’t been for my prodding, the majority of the parties I got into with strangers would have went on with little to no communication at all. Despite keeping each other alive and fighting off monsters together, random parties nowadays are no longer a surefire way to get to know new people.
It’s starting to set in now. I’m really back. The first two days were all about rehab; I’m picking up on how I used to play again, and it’s faster than I had expected. Now that I’m fully functional, I can plunge right back in. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that my main character is somewhat obsolete and ineffective against many of the new dungeons and leveling areas, so I’m creating a new character. Experience rates have been ramped up (in addition to double exp events sprinkled liberally throughout the year), so it’s a lot easier to level up now. It’s better for me to just cut my losses and start off fresh. It’s such a drain, though, because I put my heart and soul into a single character, and I was damn near one of the better Lord Knights in the last guild I was in. Unlike many of my guild mates who played multiple characters, I stuck with a single one and mastered it. Although starting anew will be very alien to me, I’m going to do it. With the current double exp event going on, I’ll be back up to speed in no time!
I think I’m spending more time playing than studying… or even blogging for that matter. For each PowerPoint that I review for a class, I reward myself with thirty minutes on Ragnarok. By the end of the today, I’m still not fully prepared for all of my tests, when I should be pretty close to being done. I really only have to worry about two classes out of the five that I have… So I think I’m going to be okay. I mean, it’s been such a long time since I’ve played RO, and my grades have been pretty stellar throughout this semester. I think its okay to let off some steam. In my spare time here in the library, I’ve devised a multitude of plans to get started on RO as soon as I get home. I know exactly what to start hunting to make some money, what gear I need to aim for, what areas are best for me to level at… the list goes on. My first final is tomorrow. Yeah, I’ll be fine.
Another day, another couple of hours spent on Ragnarok. The iron-clad patience that many of my friends know me by is corroding, as I seem to have a much lower tolerance for people. I can’t stand overly long conversations that don’t go anywhere, and try to keep my own responses as short as possible. In addition to that, I’ve been spending more time in my room. While this is the best place for me to be studying with the least “distractions”, the major culprit, my laptop, still rests right in front of me. The launch icon for RO is surrounded by a bunch of other icons on the corner of my desktop, but it’s still the first thing my eyes dart to instead of creating a new Word document. If this keeps up, I’ll become a hermit. My sleeping patterns have begun to dip; I’m staying up a little bit later each night, yet I still get up early/on time. My academic obligations lighten with each day that I finish off a final, so this balancing act is getting easier. I did pretty well in my tests so far, so perhaps growing up a bit has allowed me to multitask a lot better than I had thought.
Although I refuse to join a guild and participate like I used to, I’m finding a lot more excitement in maintaining a small, yet cohesive group, kind of like the A-Team. My new character, which is coming along nicely, is built to excel in these smaller group situations, as well as be very valuable during guild vs. guild raids. Taking part in the latter requires joining a guild, so it’s not on my list of things to accomplish while I’m back. I’m starting feel as if I “belong” somewhere again, though I do wrestle with loneliness when my friends are doing things with their guild. Since playing with random strangers wasn’t very fruitful, I fear I’ll be limited to leveling only when my playing schedule happens to coincide with theirs. What am I going to do when they’re too busy to play?
There’s nothing better than casually playing together with friends while using a voice chat program. While yammering away on a keyboard has long been a thing of the past, connecting with others by the use of our voices establishes something deeper. It felt good to actually speak to some of my old friends again today. While I’m fine with typing through the game, talking is a great alternative and it helps keep me more involved. Every day on this game seems to reveal something new to me, which I’m definitely enjoying. It seems that the things that were mundane to me are now a lot more interesting. A successful night of leveling puts me in a better mood than closing the text book of one of my classes for the last time. I’ve put a lot of energy towards school this semester, and all of my efforts finally paying off just as I planned. But, none of it feels as important anymore. At least, that was before I started playing RO again.
The remaining days I still have to cover will come down the pipe. I need to be able to write it honestly, without the baggage that piles up when I think of writing about it right now.