The Games We Play

a.k.a “Tag, You’re It!”

A couple months ago, I received an email about Yahoo Groups shutting down after 20 years. Boy, does that take me back. I don’t even have my Yahoo or Hotmail email addresses anymore. I had rejoined some writing groups via Yahoo Groups within the last eight years, or so, using my Gmail account, but seeing that email was like hopping in the Delorean and punching it to 88.

I heard once more the melodic bleep blorps of dial up connections. Desktop computers weighed as heavy as the buyer’s remorse from Black Friday impulse purchases.

It was a time when you were filled with excitement at the “uh oh” notification in ICQ. All the cool kids hung out on Friendster before MySpace came in to dominate. The moments of reprieve came when the dial up connection was lost–or someone had to use the landline. Ahem… for those who don’t know, read the definition of ‘landline’ here. (Also known as the “I got it. I said I. Got. It. You can hang up now… I can still hear you breathing Carl! Hang up! Mom/Dad, he won’t hang up! Just a second, Becky, I gotta go maim my brother first.” device). Anyhoo, it gave you the chance to rest your eyes from the visual assault of electric blue text against pink background GeoCities websites.

A bygone era, indeed.

iPhone who? This was the bee’s knees for any tween back in the day.

You may be wondering why an email has caused me to wax nostalgic for online life many, many moons ago? I’ll tell ya. Online roleplaying games.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever participated in this collaborative affair. I’m not talking about the Massively multiplayer online role-playing games that are dominating the interwebs today. MMORPGs are to the more basic online RPGs as the Borg are to Humanoids. The online RPGs I’m referring to used little to no graphics (reserved mostly to the group web page, or Yahoo Group) and we, the faithful participants, used our words to drive the story forward.

Today, I’m taking a stroll down memory lane to recount my experience with these online RPGs and how it helped transform and evolve my writing and online presence.

My first foray into the online RPGing world involved storyline mashups within the Yahoo Groups. You had to audition for the role by writing a scene. Some crossover RPGs had everything from from Buffy the Vampire Slayer notables interacting with the characters from CSI: NY. You could play someone from Smallville playing opposite people from Charmed or The Office. It was glorious.

My regularly “played” characters were: Buffy, Spike, Angel, Xander, Clem, Lorne, Chloe Sullivan, CSI Flack, Dwight, Jim, Wyatt, and Piper among others. I was commended for the scenes reading like they were watching an actual episode. I was told that I nailed the dialogue and I even included song lyrics to add to the ambience of the scene. This was fans’ way of expressing how they wanted a series to continue when the show was cut short before its time.

In this type of game, you’d write your part and then end it with <tag>. Depending on the character(s) you were interacting with, you’d tag them and have intriguing subject lines to create a thread at that location. Some RPGs were very simple in nature while others had elaborate rules and infrastructure. It was technically how I got my feet wet with online critiques of my writing, let alone the fact I was putting my creative writing out there for the world to see.

After a spell, I began to venture further out from shore and joined Star Trek RPGs. This was more complex than the yahoo group iterations due to the more regimented vetting system, the necessity to respect the canon more strictly, and the overall Trek universe, in general. They had a separate server where the game was hosted and you could rise in the ranks, or face a tribunal, if the scenario and your character’s actions called for it. This was certainly more involved as it meant I needed to create my own characters. I still use my Star Trek character handle to this day. Other RPGs were completely made up so original character creation was even more of a necessity.

This was where more of the writing prep overlap came into play. Character bios, descriptions, quirks, etc., were steps that some people didn’t enjoy as much as I did. You had to come up with the character’s back story and do a deep dive into their traits so you knew how to portray them within the parameters of the game. This process is similar to tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons.

I learned quickly what people liked and liked less about my writing because I got instant feedback with each tag. It also kept me on my toes because my next post was dependent on the other player’s response. There were other opportunities where I could collaborate with one or more players on a joint post so that it read more fluidly, much like a chapter of a novel.

We’re in such a visual era, we now have streaming platforms where people just watch a person play a video game. Everything’s changing so quickly. With VR gaining even more traction, there’ll be a whole new way of gaming immersion that will thrill our senses faster than you can type “a/s/l” in a chatroom text box.

I miss the games of yore. Be it online RPGs or tabletop games with friends. The collaboration and creativity was pure enjoyment and inspired what was to become this website and the future projects I’ll be sharing here hopefully in the new year.

Oh, and for those who enjoyed ICQ, it’s still alive and kickin’ online. A newer platform was released this year. You can “uh oh” to your heart’s content. And when we can safely travel using public transit again, you can be sure to annoy your neighbors on the train with the various chirps the app has to offer.

As always, stay creative, stay weird, be kind to yourself and others.

Until next time… Game on!

T out.

Week in Review – 2013/10/21 – 2013/10/27

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WRITING:

So, I did a beat sheet for my upcoming WIP in this year’s Entangled Smackdown over at SavvyAuthors. As I wrote in the forums, it seemed like I wrote out palpitations more than beats considering how much detail I put in. I’m not sure how the editors will view it considering my fellow writers wrote maybe a handful of lines for each beat. I think might turned into more of a synopsis, which is also okay because I need to practice doing those, as well.

On the upside of the brainstorms? Found a twist that even I didn’t see coming. My original baddie is no longer the baddie and I’m excited to get writing those scenes already. November’s just around the corner and yet my fingers are itching to get going.

READING:

Aside from the aforementioned reference and workshop lectures, I’ll definitely be reading my work for the next several weeks. However, as tempting as it might be, I’ll keep from editing as I write. That’s a big no-no.

NETWORKING:

The physical NaNo Write-Ins in the coming weeks will hopefully keep me motivated and should be good fun. The online teams for Entangled Smackdown will also have continuous support. I’m sure to look for online sprint partners via Twitter‘s #1k1hr. Should be fun.

LEARNING:

I’m eyeballs deep in languages and genealogy when not working on my WIPs. I’m thinking of contacting my grandmother–91 years young–whom I met up with in Toronto. We’d caught up on recent events in our respective lives, but I’d like to go back in time with her in hopes of learning more about my heritage. Yes, I’m still brimming with nostalgia. My love for genealogy is not going away any time soon.

How goes the last bit of October for you?

FRIDAY FORAGE – 2013/10/25

5 ITEMS ON MY BUCKET LIST

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( via sacchinpink )

One of the original purposes of this blog was for me to share my writing goals. Well, nostalgia’s hit me in a big way these past few weeks and I took a step back to think about those really big goals in life I want to accomplish. My bucket list is quite extensive, but here are five very important goals that stand out the most.

1) Have a happy and healthy family. I can hear the ticking of the ole’ biological clock. I still find it hard to grasp that my contemporaries, some whom I thought would never domesticate themselves, are heads of big families now. It really puts a timestamp on things when even the Sisterhood’s friends (and they’re twelve years my junior) are mothers and fathers. I love children, always had an affinity for them. Despite all my hopes and dreams, I believe that having children would be an immense accomplishment.

2) Share my stories with the world. I was chuffed when my short humor pieces were published earlier this year on the interwebs. Still counts and I’m running with it. 🙂 Be it flash fiction, novellas, books, or movies, I’ve got so many stories I want to tell. Since life itself is a WIP, I’m hoping this one comes to fruition.

3) Learn as many languages as possible and travel the world. I’m currently working on this one, as well. Having lived on three continents, I’ve always loved to travel. The Sisterhood has the travel bug, as well. We’re doing a smash up job so far in our travels, but wouldn’t it be amazing to be free to travel everywhere and be one with the people?

4) Oscar. Once upon a time, I held one in my hands. This is a big goal, but if we don’t dream big, aren’t we just limiting ourselves and stifling our creativity? Oh, I’ll also be content with an Emmy, Tony, Golden Globe, Pulitzer… I’m not picky.

5) Learn more about from whence we came. As with everything here, nostalgia comes into play. I’ve always wanted to learn more about my family’s history. When I hear the colorful past of some of my ancestors, it just makes me want to dig further into the past. That, and watching Who Do You Think You Are? and before that Canada’s Ancestors in the Attic, genealogy is definitely on my list.

=8=

What do you have on your bucket list? What are the things you really want to accomplish in this life?