So if you'll excuse a list full of sentiment and seriousness, today I'd like to give a shout-out to 10 things that I'm thankful for in the realm of MMOs. Check them out and then perhaps add your own thanks in the comments section!
I'm just old enough to have been around when the Atari 2600 was the gaming console of choice and PCs were considered "cutting edge" if they could run text adventure games. To come from the blips and bloops of that area to where we are today is amazing by orders of magnitude. I mean, when's the last time that you paused to realize that we are playing endless adventures with millions of gamers world-wide with all manner of technical sophistication and visual artistry? If I could have shown this to my 10-year-old self, his head would have exploded. He was playing Space Quest and Breakout at the time.
2. I'm thankful for choices in MMOs.
Again, it helps to look back to the past to see what we have to be thankful about today. Back in 2001, when I first started becoming aware of MMOs, there were only a handful on the market, and all of them were subscription-only. Now in 2013, I've got hundreds to choose from, most of which I can download within an hour and play for free indefinitely. The array of choice has spurred developers to be more creative and competitive, and I believe this is bearing fruit for all of us.
3. I'm thankful for passionate developers and community managers.
Let's put aside any petty grudges we might have today and realize a few basic truths. Pretty much all the developers and CMs I've met are doing this not because they love power trips or it's an easy path to big money but because they're gamers and truly love making games. These people put up with so much crap from the community (deserved and undeserved), and they do so with politeness and patience. I don't put devs on a pedestal but at the table alongside of the rest of us. We're all gamers, and we all love these MMOs. I'm glad people who love these games are the ones making them.
My path to writing for Massively wasn't something I planned. I was a blog reader for a long time and then took a few timid steps into the blogging scene before I realized just how much I loved writing about all of these silly games. Coming on at Massively was a thrill at the time, and you know what? It kind of still is. I can't believe that people read my stuff or listen to my weird voice on the podcast, but I'm pretty glad you guys do. Thanks!
5. I'm thankful for my guildies.
I've been part of many terrific guilds over the years, most notably Time Well Wasted (World of Warcraft), The Fish and Bread Trick (same), Mercy Gaming (SWTOR and The Secret World), The Council of the Secret Fire (Lord of the Rings Online), Veratas Invictus (Guild Wars 2), and many more that my mind has filed away into deep storage. The human connection of MMOs is strongest for me in my guilds and with these friendships that arise over the course of our mutual adventures and encouragement. They're people I want to share my successes and frustrations with and the ones that I listen to when they do the same. They're the best game "content" of them all.
6. I'm thankful for my fellow Massively writers.
Massively is like another guild for me, except that instead of playing games together we write the news and columns about our mutual passion. And let me tell you, these are wonderful folks. We come from all walks of life and more often than not disagree on different gaming subjects, but there's a lot of respect and admiration that flows between us (not to mention rampant silliness in our chat room). Big thanks to our editors Jef, Shawn, and Bree, who tidy up our posts and try to manage the business side of things so that we can be free to just write.
One of the reasons that MMOs are my games of choice is that nowhere else do you get evolving game worlds and constantly surprising news stories as you do here. I love the persistent characters, the out-of-left-field design choices, the drama that the studios and players whip up, and the excitement over a launch or a patch.
8. I'm thankful for stories of gamers' generosity and love.
For all of the selfish jerkhole attitudes out there, MMO gamers can show themselves as caring and courageous. Every time we get post one of these heartwarming stories, such as Ribbitribbit or WoW's Trade Chat Hero, my faith in the community is restored somewhat. And then someone says something truly awful in zone chat, but I'll put him on ignore and choose to focus on everything above the surface of the muck.
9. I'm thankful for my wife's support.
I've read horror stories of gamers whose relationships are strained because of MMOs, and I'm truly glad I've avoided that. Much of the credit goes to my amazing wife, who -- even though she doesn't really get MMOs -- has never made fun of me playing them or nagged me about them. We've struck a good balance such that my gaming never takes precedence over family time and I can occasionally ask her to drive to downtown Detroit to get me a Del Taco cup that has a shuttlecraft code on it for Star Trek Online (for the record, she was already in the area on business, so I wasn't being completely lazy).
10. I'm thankful for all of the great memories I have.
I have very, very few regrets when it comes to MMOs. Mostly my regrets are "I wish I had played [dead MMO title here] more," but they're minor when compared to all of the great memories I've accumulated over the years. Even games I've left I still feel warmth toward because chances are that they've given me a tale or two that I'll carry with me always. I don't want to become one of those bitter gamers who can never be satisfied, so I choose instead to be a gamer who embraces wonder and excitement and joy where I can find it. That attitude has blessed me with many experiences that I'll treasure always.
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.