What I basically wanted to do was to write about one of my favorite games ever. It's also seemingly pretty much unrecognized outside of the still very active (though by now dwindling) community. But then I came to think about what exactly it was that I enjoyed so much about Guild Wars. It certainly was the game itself that got me addicted almost five years ago - but once I had discovered every area in Prophecies, the original, the only thing I had left was pretty much PvP. And that was when i REALLY started playing Guild Wars.
Up until I discovered Heroes' Ascent and Guild versus Guild (the two primary competitive modes, both 8v8), I had invested about thirty hours into the game. Which, by my standards, already is a whole damn lot for any game I play. But by now, that number makes up less than one percent of my total playtime. Yes, I did spend an unhealthy amount of time playing this game - but I don't think any of it was wasted. My personal life was unaffected as far as relationships, school, etc. are concerned. But that isn't really what this post is supposed to be about. The next paragraph is.
WHY did I play Guild Wars for thousands of hours? Well, shortly after I had played through the player-vs-environment-campaign I joined a guild that focused on the play mode I had gotten into, Heroes' Ascent. And by joining that guild, while not expecting it at the time of joining, I got to know a whole bunch of interesting, fun and overall awesome people that I still am in contact with today. Even though the game remained the main focus of us coming together, what "playing" consisted of a lot of the time was just us talking about all kinds of topics, making fun of each other and just generally having a good time. A thing that was not intrinsically linked to gaming for me up until that point. I of course had played all kinds of games with friends before many a time - but that was different. To meet up with people I knew solely through a game in order to enjoy their company in said game was a first for me.
We ended up spending hundreds of hours in said mode, often winning the last map lots of times in a row. We shifted to GvG after a while, also very much succeeding there but...both of this is just really me bragging about things nobody here knows about anyway - and totally besides the point. I got to know all of our members better every day while at the same time never getting to know any of their real names. While I didn't even stop to think about that at the time (otherwise, I just would have asked); in hindsight it is quite an interesting thing to think about. I didn't care at all that we all just addressed each other with our nicknames. There wasn't a difference to our real ones; that was how we knew each of us were addressed in this online world - and everyone reacted just the way you would if you heard your actual name called out in real life. It wasn't only the game that kept us playing, it was us, as a group, coming together, having fun; the game just happened to be what we happened to come to know each other by. And, while rage occurred sometimes, all of us were having an absolutely great while.
As time went by, of course, many stopped playing the game. I basically did as well. I still talk to three people of our group of over eleven every other day though. And we're still having an awesome time. Also, unfortunately a few just didn't come online at all anymore. But whether that is online or not, abandoning relationships over time is a very human thing to do.
And I still talk to who I know as "cookie" all the time after I have moved to Japan while I only write an email every other month to my parents...
I guess what my point here is just that a) games are better when played with great people and b) relationships online are becoming more and more important as our society goes global.