If the on-line gaming community or MMORPG'ers or whatever the hell they call themselves ever does a Google search and they end up on this blog, I expect a flaming raft of shit for things I might have said in the past that were not entirely (or, ahem, even at all) complimentary of what passes for a "hobby" in those circles: namely, sitting in front of a computer for countless hours at a time, vacant and vapid and vacuous, clicking oneself into oblivion while perpetuating what to the uninitiated such as myself appears to amount to nothing more than a giant electronic circle jerk.
But that was all before I became an on-line gamer myself. Er, sort of, anyway.
My very first MMORPG experience came via a friend on the SDMB, my very favorite source for almost all the information I need. We were in a thread about the late un-great TV show "Pirate Master" (blech on a stick, by the way) and somehow I ended up checking out and ultimately joining this awesome game called YoHoHo Puzzle Pirates. (I link to it on this blog, over there on the left, in case you find that you are interested.)
Although I should backtrack a bit and say that I partly joined, at the beginning anyway, out of spite. G is a gamer, and his friends are gamers, and he spends hours at a clip playing games that I don't understand and will never be good at. Counterstrike, and Team Fortress, and I don't even know what the hell all else. He got a special set of "cans" so that he can lurk up there in his den with his headphones on and talk to his buddies and have fun without me while I sit on the couch and pout, all lonely and with nobody to fetch me juice from the kitchen because I'm too spoiled to do it my damn self.
And I'm not a big fan of shoot-'em-up games, anyway, because I am highly suggestible and get nightmares, plus I don't really see the point of blowing other people's virtual heads off. Why? Are there prizes for winning Counterstrike? Does that game even have a story? I mean, some of the stuff that comes out of on-line gaming is hysterical and fantastic and I love it, like "im in ur camp killin ur dudes," and also "the cake is a lie," and the occasional "Leeroy Jenkins" -- but even then, I have to use my Google-fu a lot so I don't look like a giant clueless tool (any more than usual).
But Puzzle Pirates is altogether different. For one thing, the game is mostly puzzles (duh), not shooting -- although as you get better at it, you can progress to games where you have to shoot things. Cannons, mostly, at other people's ships. And the puzzles are all based on things that hypothetical pirates would really have to do: bilging, sailing, carpentry, shipwrightery, rumbling, sword fighting, drinking, carousing, playing spades. (Well, OK, maybe the spades are more purely hypothetical than other parts of the game, but still.)
And also, there are the people. I have been lucky enough to have only dealt with really nice people in my experience with the game. I'm sure YPP has its fair share of jerks and buttheads, but so far so good, for me. Only once has anyone made me cry, and I'm pretty sure that was a 13-year-old kid. My crew has been awesome, patient, teaching me what to do and how not to behave, and just generally not caring if I "level my druid" or not, as long as I show up and have a good time and help other people have a good time. I even placed in a couple of contests, including one where I wrote about Mother Teresa in an adventure with pirates. (Total fiction, of course.)
So ... not to make this long story any longer, but I think I finally understand what all the fuss is about. I know that hardcore gamers probably think that the YPP people -- "puzzlins," I believe my husband called us, once -- are lametards or whatever. And, exactly: whatever. (I don't care how lame he thinks I am, anyway, since I know what's really on his iPod.) I'm an old woman who never did this kind of thing before, and because I got my foot in the door in an environment where I felt safe and comfortable and encouraged, I am willing to try other games too. Which is kind of the point, right?
My heart will always belong to YPP, whatever I do, because that's where Pondera is, and my people, who know strengths and my skills and my language. (LOLcat.)