Saturday, January 08, 2005

Leaving Ultima Online

Forty-five months is a long time to play a game. It was forty-five months ago that I was first introduced to Ultima Online, and for the past three and three-quarter years I have experienced that game to its fullest. I have experienced the thrill of forming close friendships, working with all sorts of different groups of people, leading large and small events, making tough decisions, and a whole other host of emotions and experiences that would come from “hanging” out with people in the virtual world day in and day out for 37 months. It has not always been happy, but on the whole, it was a good experience; an experience that taught me a lot about myself, and the general human condition. Through the virtual world, I learned about leadership and management. I learned about the power of delegation. I learned about goal setting. I learned about how economies work. I learned about power, and various forms of government. I don’t think that it would be possible for me to explain what I saw, heard, played, and felt over the past 45 months. Far too much has happened to explain it all.

It felt strange packing up my things and closing out my account. It felt like some small part of me was turning my back on a set of responsibilities. However, the reality of my life at this time would dictate that I do not have the hours to run a player organization. For months I have been telling myself that it was time to let go of Ultima Online, but it wasn’t until recently that some kind friends helped me to see that it would be ok, and that at this point in my life it is ok and important that I focus on “real life” as we called it in the game.

I will never forget some of the experiences I had while playing that game. Not so much the game its self, but the human interaction that took place as a bi-product of playing. At a time in my life when I was looking for an escape from reality, Ultima Online filled that gap quite well. I was able to assume my alias and be the person that perhaps I was afraid to be in reality. I would liken my “online” friends much to the familiar atmosphere of the old sitcom “Cheers”. The lyrics: “Sometimes you wa’na go where every body knows your name, and they’re always glad you came” explain why games of the genre are so addicting.

Today I said goodbye to that realm. Hopefully I will be able to bring some of the friendships along. I have friends all over this country now, and someday I would still love to meet them in real life. Arizona, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, and New Jersey, just to name a few. Many people from various backgrounds who hold different beliefs all managed to come together to enjoy time with one another. Really, it was quite a thrilling experience. However, there comes a time in each person’s life when he/she needs to make adjustments that will allow him/her to better pursue their goals. Leaving my responsibilities and life in the virtual world is something that I needed to do.

Some of you may read this blog entry and wonder what the above was all about. I don’t expect anyone to understand. I have never even tried to explain online gaming to anyone but my family. It is interesting the different things the internet can introduce us to. I do think there is a place in the world for online games. They have their dangers, but they are also a powerful learning tool. It is said that when one door closes, another opens. I am excited at this time in the journey to open that next door and see what lies behind it.


Hamm said...

err I guess it,s just Joe now, you and I never interacted much in game anyway, so keep on reading my blog and I will keep reading yours, and hopefully we can keep in touch in ICQ.

Sharon said...

I am one of your former "In Game" friends. You have touched my life in many ways as I know you have alot of others "in Game". You will be missed terribly, but I know that the friendships that hold true are the ones that remain even outside of our little virtual world. You are an exceptional person who has touched the lives of many. I am proud to call you my friend no matter what "world" it is in.