28 Apr 2011

X is for Xanadu.

In between being a reader and a writer, I used to play computer games. I loved roleplaying games in fantasy or science fiction settings (no surprise there).

My absolute favourite game was Everquest. I played it for several years and met an amazing group of people because of it.

Everquest was an MMORPG, a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, in which hundreds of thousands of players took control of their elf, dwarf, ogre, ... character to overcome challenges in an elaborate fantasy world.

I played a dark-elf enchanter called Triksi, and for the bigger part of her virtual life, Triksi was a member of a great guild called 'Xanadu'.

Playing this game and being in Xanadu taught me a lot of skills that have proven useful in other areas of my life.

You don't play MMORPGs on your own. You need others to get ahead in the game, sometimes smaller groups, sometimes a raid party of 50 or more.

When any group of that size gets together to accomplish a task - whether that's slaying a dragon, organising an event or creating a product - you inevitably learn about organisation, multitasking, communication, perseverance, offering and accepting help, applying strategies, problem-solving, human interaction and putting individual differences to good use.

Along the way, we became friends. Online friends at first, but many of us met up in real life. Our first big gathering took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, and it was interesting to see how close those online friendships came to real-life friendships: the people I got along with in-game were the same people I connected with when we met up.

Several of them have stayed good friends up to this day, even after we stopped playing Everquest.

Others have disappeared in the cracks of time and distance, some to reappear on Facebook or other social networks in recent years.

To this day, the word 'Xanadu' still makes me smile. It rings of friendship and great accomplishments - against all odds.

It also reminds me of the temporary nature of many friendships. Some friends are there for life, others will cross your path, walk with you for a while and disappear - quietly, or with a bang.

Does that make those friendships less valuable? I don't think so. Duration and longevity aren't the only ways of measuring quality. We don't judge the beauty of a rose or the flavour of a dish by how long they linger, do we?

So this post is dedicated to my Xanadu friends, past and present. Wherever you are now and whatever you're doing, I hope you're well, and I think a reunion is due.
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  1. Amazing how many people get caught up in these computer games.....I'm glad it was a positive experience for you.

  2. It certainly was. I'm even teaching about it now. ;-)

  3. Good for you! I'm still trying to get Frogger across the street! But, I do Wii! Good post.

    Hello, fellow A-Z Challenger! Here's my latest entry. Come visit either of my blogs when you can and leave some comment love:

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  4. I did not picture you as a gamer! LOL. I've never done role playing games and had no idea it was so involved with all those people online getting together. That's cool that you've stayed in touch with some of them.

  5. @Sharlene: poor Frogger! :-)

    @L.G.: the herbs, wine and sunshine-loving foodie is just my day persona. ;-) No, seriously, MMORPGs are a fascinating world, and not so different from 'real life' as people might think. They also have a strong narrative component, and interactivity as a bonus.

    But I haven't played games properly for years now. There's only so much time, and I enjoy writing more. :-)

  6. Xanadu was on my short list of topics. It makes me smile, too.

  7. @Shelli: not for the same reason, by any chance? :-)

  8. Gotta love google Triksi. Natinja here :) Makes me smile to see these pictures again.. So many memories. I have occasionally met Jakob, the monk, and we end up talking for hours. Hope you read this and thanks for the dedication!


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