There aren’t many big online games that can boast a 10 year anniversary. Yesterday Guild Wars passed that milestone. It’s a major milestone and as a veteran player, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk down memory lane.
I started playing in September 2005 whilst at university and Guild Wars was the first MMO I ever played. After cutting my teeth in pre-searing and getting used to the small number of real people there, I graduated my ranger and walked into Ascalon City.
To this day I can remember being floored by the sheer number of player characters in that city. There were so many people with their own lives and stories to tell, so many trade and chat messages going past, I felt overwhelmed and awed by how alive this virtual world was. And emotionally drained by the ruined state of the beautiful city that was in pre-searing.
More than anything, I think it is this awe that has steered my fascination with online communities.
Every game has its dramas, which I view as somewhat necessary in making an online game engaging. Guild Wars had a few of them over the years, ranging from the Thunderhead Keep monk strike of 2006 (player monks refused to help suicidal wammos through the mission), the cancellation of the Utopia campaign and the Hall of Monuments debacle (it was originally to be character based and players weren’t happy).
These and other hot topics would roll around every couple of weeks and forum would blow up with pitchforks and torches. After a few of these happen and the servers don’t get turned off, you pay less and less attention to the cries of “this game is dying”, roll your eyes and keep going. But heck, sometimes it’s fun to eat popcorn and watch people argue about pixels, and other times there are genuinely interesting debates to be had.
For the most part, ArenaNet did a good job of gathering player feedback where it was needed and channelling it into changes into the game. Utopia was cancelled for good reasons and it looks like some of it may turn up in Heart of Thorns. The Hall of Monuments was changed to be account bound. And the wammos finally learnt that not all monks are superheroes!
The Guild Wars games are full of fantastically kind, supportive and helpful people. I’ve met so many friends, collaborators and acquaintances through playing and participating in community activities that I’ve lost count. Heck, I even met my husband in Kamadan in 2007.
I think one of the main factors that made Guild Wars so good for finding likeminded people was that there were no great rewards (in PvE at least) for being optimal, people weren’t forced together and yet when they did join up, perseverance was rewarded. Doing a mission that takes 40 minutes or more forces you to work through the problems you encounter 30 minutes in rather than bailing. And if you weren’t in the mood for people, the heroes and henchmen were there to get your back. Like Guild Wars 2, the competition between players for resources simply wasn’t there. That puts everyone in a great frame of mind, and increases the likelihood of finding someone fun to play with.
Passion and Inspiration
Getting involved in something like Guild Wars to the extent I did seeps into every part of your life. Over the years I’ve treated the game as an excuse to learn new skills and open doors into new experiences I might not have had.
For example, the skills I’ve learnt as a guild leader since 2006 are now frequently used in my job as a manager. It’s remarkable how transferrable organisational skills, empathy and diplomacy can be. I’ve used inspiration for modifications to open source platforms to solve in game problems to help me learn new programming languages. And with the help of a Guild Wars radio show, I (mostly) overcame my fear of public speaking. Not too shabby for a hobby some still consider a waste of time!
So the final point I want to hit on is the insane goals I set for myself in games after the major milestones are hit.
I had a couple of goes at the Survivor Title (obtain 1,337,000 xp without incurring a single death) before getting it, and then I could pretty consistently get it. So I thought… why not just keep going and see how high that number can go. The answer is, well, this:
I ended up dying somewhere really stupid and kicked myself about it a lot at the time!
The final crazy thing I did in Guild Wars was completely max out storage. This took me about a year to complete. The rubies and sapphires were the worst bit.
If this post has made you want to jump back into the game, the 10th Anniversary festival is currently underway until May 6th! Hop in and have some fun.