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Would I have wanted to play MMOs in the early 2000s?

It’s pretty human nature to look back at the past and wish that you had done some things different. My imagination sometimes thinks about what I would say to Past Me if I was given an opportunity — what advice I would say, encouragement, etc.

But if I was going to make recommendations to Past Me about gaming, I really don’t know whether or not I’d advise myself to get into MMORPGs earlier on. Back in college in the late 1990s, I didn’t have internet in my dorm room, so it wasn’t until 1999 that I started to have dial-up access wherever I lived. And that was, of course, dial-up. I didn’t use the internet to game; I was still engaging in console and single-player PC titles.

I was somewhat aware of MMOs back then, but only in the sense that a few of my friends played them and seemed weirdly and unhealthily obsessed with them. But every time I went to the store and picked up an EverQuest or Asheron’s Call box, I really wasn’t keen on the graphics or the idea of a monthly subscription. So it wasn’t until 2003/2004 that I got into games like Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft.

My personal irony is that from 1999-2003, I was living as a bachelor, so I had more time than I knew what to do with. It was only when I met my wife and started a family that my MMO interest ramped up even as available time decreased.

So would I advise Past Me to put some of that spare time into MMOs? It wouldn’t be because I deeply regret not playing those games now, that’s for sure. If I had to pick any title from the 2000 era, I’d say Asheron’s Call, but I wouldn’t be that enthusiastic about it.

But I might still prompt myself to check them out if only for the social scene. I was incredibly lonely back then, and knowing how much MMOs provide social interaction for me today, I think that would’ve actually helped my mental state somewhat.

It’s a moot point, of course; what happened, happened, and I’m happy where I am now. I’m just wondering, that’s all.

5 thoughts on “Would I have wanted to play MMOs in the early 2000s?

  1. What college was that? Mine had a t1 line (at least that’s what it was referred to as) going into every room when I started in 96 and it was glorious!

  2. I played Dark Age of Camelot in the early 2000s on a dial-up service which was “unlimited” in that you could spend as long as you liked on there for a flat monthly fee, but the ISP dropped the line every 90 minutes to stop people abusing their generosity, which was pretty much guaranteed to happen at the worst possible time. So there were technical challenges, but the community spirit was excellent – except, of course, when the drama occurred. And there was, from time to time, drama that eclipsed anything I’ve seen in latter day MMOs, so maybe it wouldn’t be too good for someone whose mental health was actually fragile. But the cameraderie was there the rest of the time, and the Prydwen/Hibernia player get-together in London, with a bar full of gamers from across Europe toasting “HIBERNIA!!!” at the tops of their voices whilst downing shots from planks of schnapps and scaring the crap out of the mundanes, was the best player gathering I’ve been to before or since.

  3. I started with MMORPG myself with World of Warcraft in 2005, also only having done single player games up until then. But one of my closest friends visited me almost every day and had his own computer at my place, and he played EverQuest right from when it was released (he even multi-boxed later) so I got to see and hear quite a lot of it.

    It did look very interesting but I’m also quite sure it would not have been for me at that time. The tales he told of the difficulty level of EverQuest, the forced grouping, and the dreaded corpse runs made it clear that I definitely wasn’t ready for that yet.

  4. I played EQ from 1999 on dial-up, on American West Coast servers from the UK. Never had any significant issues with lag or connectivity other than when one of the kids would unplug the modem without asking to use the phone. Tha main drawback was the time it took to download patches but even those weren’t too much trouble. Mostly we just let them run overnight and sometimes i’d copy the files from my PC to Mrs. Bhagpuss’s the next day to save time. In those days you coul see all the files by name as they downloaded and they all just sat neatly in the folders so copy and pasting them was easy.

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