My MMORPG Evolution

Sheeba in FFXI
       My journey into playing MMORPG's started quite by accident 5 or 6 years ago. I was in graduate school at the time and had just completed my Master's degree. I remember it was a Christmas gift to a then partner at the time and I had more free time then usual so I just watched him play. I quickly was surprised at the social aspect of this type of game and was intrigued my all the character customization and development options. Human behavior always has interested me and this entertainment baffled and intrigued me. So first it started out with the fun of creating a customized character, a expression of myself that was not myself or perhaps not the version I lived everyday. So I picked a Mithra, a mixture of a playful yet sexy character. What started as curiosity soon consumed me to some degree and the diversion was a satisfactory escape from what was an unsatisfying relationship at the time.

Of course being the overachiever that I always was, I quickly hit level cap and knew I was destined for greater adventures in the endgame. I spent 2-3 years cultivating my skills, immersing myself, and living the competitive life of endgame activities in this world. I even found my true partner during the course of this game, and I soon took a break to explore the relationship further and catch up on my real life progress for my doctorate degree.

Sheeba in LOTRO
       Real life was going great but the draw of a new online game pulled me and my boyfriend in. LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) was set to be a new immersing MMORPG set in the beautiful world of Tolkien. Several friends we had made in real life were encouraging our participation, so we gave the open beta a try. At the time I was unfamiliar with a "point and click" game, and had always played with a controller previously. Thus LOTRO set the tone for my introduction into a PC game, and likely the start of some future carpal tunnel... This time I wanted a different experience, my competitive streak returned and I determined myself to create a kinship that would dominate the server. I choose the Gladden server with friends I had made from the closed beta and created "Epic" kinship. My position as a guild leader was a new and exciting experience, and I was determined to make a guild better then those previously, with structure, competitiveness as well as fun. I recruited several like minded individuals to be my co-leaders, and whose previous MMO experience created a nice well rounded team. We enjoyed a relatively more mature guild membership of college educated and working adults some of which had families. This cooperative and mature experience was some of the best I had in all my MMO adventures. We enjoyed many server firsts and even a world 3rd on the first big raid boss kill (Thorog). However, our success was also our downfall as my competitive members were hungry to devour content Turbine couldn't create fast enough. Eventually I myself was drawn back to FFXI again, as my boyfriend had resumed playing and was enjoying the new content from the couple years we had been away. I too casually started playing again, but was soon full time as the boredom of playing LOTRO took hold. I eventually returned to LOTRO to pass my crown as leader and return "home" to FFXI.

Tiamat Dance
      Of course I still had kept my FFXI character active, partly because she always had sentimental value, and I was not keen to start over should I ever return. In real life I was completing my Doctoral exams to advance to candidacy and was starting my pre-doctoral hours. So I returned with a structured and set schedule for my playtime. I returned to endgame with my boyfriend and joined the dominating linkshell on the server. I managed to finish my Summoner job and had succeeded in having 3 level capped jobs in FFXI. I was never big into the leveling process itself and had always been more of the mind to "hurry up and finish". We developed some new close friendships and even got married in the game. However the linkshell we returned to never took a break for other games such as we did, and they were feeling the pains of no new acceptable content being released. So eventually several friends started moving to WoW and playing less and less FFXI. Painful as it was, the gaming experience was better with the people I enjoyed playing with so begrudgingly I decided to give WoW a try.

Sheibs in WoW
      The character creation and customization was something to be desired, but I did the best I could to re-create a re-incarnation of a version of Sheeba that would be acceptable to me.I would have preferred a horde blood elf model, but the guild I merged with chose Alliance. In real life during this time I was working full time and starting on my dissertation. As much as I resisted this game it has proven to be a satisfactory MMO in terms of accomplishing game progression in short time spans. Leveling to the cap was easy, dungeons and raids are easily fit into an evening of gaming. My WoW experience by far has proved to be the most healthy and balanced MMORPG I have played before. Of course I was not around for "vanilla" wow when people were referring to the game as "wowcrack". I have been playing this game for just over a year, and I will continue to play the future Cataclysm expansion. I found my distinctive mini game of this MMO

     My MMO experience is again ready to take another evolution as I explore FFXIV, Square Enix's newest MMO based on the Final Fantasy series. I have been playing around on open beta for a couple weeks and I feel the game is very similar to FFXI with the exception of better graphics and insane character customization! However, my boyfriend and I committed to playing this game very casually, and very slowly. For the first time I will resist the temptation to "hurry up and finish".

I am unsure where my MMO experience will end, I seem to be constantly evolving and changing and Sheeba evolves in each new game we play parallel to myself. In fact I recently changed dissertation topics to focus on people playing MMORPG's from a psychological point of view. We will soon see how this melding of work and hobby will pan out.