Friends Make the Game

Sarah McGarr

I first set foot into gaming when I would go over to my step-dad's house and play his Nintendo. My sister and I would play Duck Hunt and World Class Track Meet. She would always win at track, because she was bigger than me and could run faster on the mat. I liked playing Duck Hunt better anyway. Fast forward to the Super Nintendo where I played a lot of Mario with my sister, and Hockey with dad. My parents said I would only get a Nintendo 64 if we gave away the Super Nintendo, and I heard there was a new Mario Kart and Kirby game for it, so I said okay. That was a mistake, as Kirby64 was disappointing. This is where my gaming slowed down to a crawl, as the games I loved on the SNES were either non-existent on the N64 or were second-rate.

Then there was the internet. We got the internet in 1996 or 1997 because of schools requiring internet sources for homework. A few years later, I found a BBS with text-RPGs. My friends from Yahoo!Chat migrated over there and I eventually became an OP for their IRC room. I spent many, many years at, being one of the top players with my team 'Cotton Hamsters'. The BBS spawned a few more text RPGs that I played, before shutting down some years ago.

The best years I had in gaming were not on the internet, however. They were spent in person with a bunch of friends from college playing Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons in the Multi-Purpose Room - commonly referred to as the MPR on campus. I initially started to play D&D because I thought one of the guys was hot, and wanted one of my friends to explain to me the premise of this game and help create a character sheet. I became the Elf Cleric of the group. We were fairly large group of six people. The DM was and still has been the best DM I've experienced in D&D. We went on so many quests, traveling to different places and he had a great sense of humor so the days were always full of laughs. One day, I wasn't able to be there, and left my character in the hands of another player. I came back the next day only to be told that I was running around at night, licking people's eyeballs as they tried to sleep. We had a halfling in our group who rode a dog. I had the aptitude to speak with animals, and would spend my daily ability telling the dog to do silly things to the halfling. Bad things always seemed to happen to the poor guy, though. The DM liked to do random intelligence checks during the game for no apparent reason, and one day the halfling kept failing them. The DM was amused by this, and had him keep doing it every time he would do something in the campaign. He eventually went insane and ran off from the group, which created a quest to find him, which was amusing in itself. We found him hiding in a tree stump in a forest covered in sap. This was probably seven or eight years ago now, but I still remember that being one of the best times in my life, and I miss those people greatly. The halfling ended up dying at one point in our game, and instead of kicking the guy out, the DM sent us on a mission to find some wizard in a far away land to revive him. Hilarity ensued, carrying a Halfling corpse across the lands.

The same group also got me into Magic: The Gathering, which I also became really into. I still have my awesome Green and White Pony and Fairy deck. I lost a lot, but I enjoyed my Pegasus' and faeries. I was even late to work once, because I was actually winning a game for a change! Then I got yelled at by my boss, but it was so worth it.

Then I moved to Utah where people do not like to play games. At least, I never really met anyone in college that liked to play any. So my love of Magic and D&D games died there.

Searching for something fantasy-ish, a friend of mine told me about Final Fantasy XI and invited me onto Midgardsormr with a Gold World Pass. This was my step up from Runescape where I would run around and kill chickens and cows, and occasionally chop down a tree. I used my imagination for years playing table-top D&D and Magic: The Gathering, and this was finally a visual fantasy game of all things I liked and was fascinated by. Windurst was a place I could escape to and always secretly wished it was a real place that I lived in. My friends made the game enjoyable, though. I've always liked to play games with friends and even when I was a kid, I never enjoyed playing games by myself. This is true even today, as I'm always more interested in MMOs then any single player RPG. There are few and single player RPGs that I like, but those a few and far between (Can we say... Bleach: The 3rd Phantom and Final Fantasy X?)

I've known people on Final Fantasy XI for six years, and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. Over the years, some friends have quit the game, and I miss them and the events I used to run with them. Dynamis was one of the events that I miss the most, because being a White Mage in a Linkshell that didn't have many was super fun. Like that one time I was the only White Mage to show up. Good times healing twenty-four people by yourself! I also miss my first Linkshell that had a lot of people quit. Those are the people I've known the longest. We did Rise of the Zilart in a weekend, and put in some crazy hours. We woke up, did missions until we broke for dinner. Did more missions after, until we went to bed. The storylines of Final Fantasy XI are my favorite parts of the game, and doing them with friends is what makes it most exciting.

With Abyssea and the level cap raise to 99, it breathed new life into the game. I find myself missing the days of climbing to 75 the old fashion way — finding a place to party with six friends, beating up mobs you haven't seen before in an area not often traveled. Half the fun was traveling there and not dying. Unfortunately, most of my friends are in Abyssea all the time now, and don't have any time for other activities. This probably reflects on the reduced time I've spent in-game. I miss the good times.

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