Rediscovering Runescape

I’ve waxed lyrical about Runescape several times on the blog. This is one such post.

This evening, while catching up with my high school friends, one of them mentioned that he had started up playing Old School RuneScape again. In an instant, I told him I had an active account, and we set up within 10 minutes to play together again. In an hour, we had convinced the other member of our little trio to set up his own account and join us in the same world.

For 2 hours, we did nothing but mercilessly combat goblins. As we each combated goblins, we traded information about our statistics, all got banned from trading items, and repeated a mindless cycle of, find goblin, attack goblin, take coins, take bones, bury bones. All the while, we explained things to our third friend – since he was new to the game, and planned out what adventures we’d go on, including Quests, the next time we all played together (in my mind, this is likely to be tomorrow).

This was an extremely, extremely, mindless activity. I did 0 application of brain, and my mouse pretty much did everything for me. I had an audiobook of Lord of the Rings going in the background, which I thought was perfect company for a game like RuneScape generally, since there are so many fan theories about how Middle Earth and RuneScape intersect – particularly in terms of their timeline. However, the activity itself used 0 brain cells or creativity of mine, especially since it wasn’t as dynamic as say, smithing, mining, or even woodcutting and fishing.

Speaking of, as a quick aside, it is worth mentioning how I sold my parents on the idea of the game aged 7. I informed my parents, while signing up to the website, and while playing, that I learned essential survival skills in the game. For the most part, this remains true. I incorporated words like “tinderbox” into my vocabulary the first time I played the game.

Turning back to playing RuneScape itself. When I played it through October and November, I played alone. None of my friends were playing at the time, so while there was a lot of nostalgia involved in the activity itself, and rediscovering all the information I had stored in the treasure trove that is my brain, none of it was shared. That absence left a void in me, and prevented the access of a very important, associated RuneScape memory.

You see, RuneScape is an MMORPG. A Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. A large part of what attracts people to it, and makes it a success, is/was it’s ability to share the experience with friends. I spent hours playing with friends who I went to school with, who stayed in the same building in which I did – and that was a very important part of the game. In front of my friends, I consistently felt like a noob, because with my internet restrictions at the time, I hardly had the ability to devote myself to the game in the manner they did. Nonetheless, there were evenings where we logged on at the same time and I learned things about the game from them, and even once where I remember spending an entire evening watching two of them play and access Member-Only features, since they were Members.

Playing with these two today opened up all of that for me, and I’m looking forward to accessing the Multilplayer components of the game with my friends.

I’ve convinced a friend from primary school – my best friend, to get back to the game too. Hopefully he follows through.

My days will lose all structure then.

Gaming

I have a chequered history with videogames.

When I was younger, all my friends had PS2’s that they gamed on. Except my best friend and I. This sort of put us at this weird relationship with our friends. We had (and I still have) Gameboys, and we played on those whenever we had sleepovers, aside from computer games that we had access to. Aside from that though, our conversations and entertainment activities involved the outside world for the most part, with day long trips to places like Children’s City.

At sleepovers with my other friends though, and on evenings when people weren’t in a mood to go out, I’d spend the evening at their apartment playing in, or watching them play videogames on their PS2’s. It always left me very dissatisfied, because I was always terrible at these videogames whenever my turn came – and I was made fun of because I was so awful, but I never really had the chance to practice, so to speak – given that I didn’t have a console to game on. For a while, that left me disappointed.

When we went to purchase a new television – and I can remember this very, very clearly, my parents were looking at all these television models, but I was on the side looking at this brand new Playstation Portable that had just been released by Sony. It was all over the news, and it was this fantastic hand-held console that allowed you to play these incredible games and all of this multimedia the way you would on the PS2, but in your hands. I was in awe.

I was particularly in awe because the game I saw was Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and I loved the game demo I was shown.

My dad surprised me by ordering me a Playstation Portable, with 2 free games. I saw the box on the desk in my room without an explanation, and honestly, to this day, it remains one of the happiest memories for me. My parents were very strict with it, because they didn’t want me to become addicted, so I only ever played the Playstation Portable when I was on holiday. Else, during the term, it was kept away from me, so I never got to play much. I made sure my holidays were filled with the PSP though, and I enjoyed it so much. My parents encouraged that limited playing, and at the beginning of holidays, when I had done particularly well on exams, I was allowed to buy games. I bought myself Ratatouille once, and man, what an investment that was.

However, soon, the PSP stopped being the “in-thing”. I couldn’t really play online, and I wanted to – and the console I wanted was the PS3. The PS3 released in 2006, and while we were relocating to India, I remember my mother spending some time looking at the feasibility of buying me another console and deciding against it. The PS3 in general came up in conversation on several occasions: I asked for one because I really wanted to be able to play with my friends online, but it was quite over-budget, and my parents wanted to encourage me to be outside and play in the outdoors, especially given that we had just moved to this fantastic residential space with all these amenities. Everytime I brought it up, I got shot down – and I used to be quite upset each time, I remember. Till my parents relented in Grade 9, around the start of 2012.

By that time, the PS3 Slim was out, and it had all these functionalities beyond just gaming. My parents agreed that I could have one if I sold my PSP, and at the time, I was okay with that condition. I sold my PSP to CeX in Bangalore, and got a great deal for it, and off-set that money toward the PS3, and some games, with my parents funding the rest.

It was a wild few months. However, at the time we bought it, I realized quickly that my interest in playing the PS3 was limited, and I didn’t really make the time to play because the academic pressure from school was going up and I was sort of succumbing to that, by putting pressure on myself. I did play the PS3 for a summer though, the summer before Grade 10 properly got underway. I played a lot of F1 2011, and FIFA 12. During that break – and in the subsequent winter break though, I realized how little I played it, and decided to sell it. It was barely in my possession for a year and a few months, maybe? I sold it pretty quickly, and got a good deal – one that funded one of my MUN trips to Hyderabad, a deal I was pleased with.

Since then, I rarely have played videogames. Although I enjoy them tremendously, I’m not very good at them, and I don’t prioritize them. However, since November, my interest in them has returned, and how.

This isolation period in particular has got me really interested in them once again, and one of the things I am most grateful for is that each evening, I connect up to my friend abroad and play FIFA with him for a few hours before I go to bed. We chat while gaming competitively against each other, and every day, it’s one of the things I’ve drilled into my routine to ensure I’m getting some amount of socializing.

Gaming is an interest I would like to continue. Not just with FIFA, but with some storyline-based games as well. I’ve learned how because you block laptop notifications generally while gaming, and because they’re designed to be immersive experiences, you care for very little when the game is going on. That’s a fabulous thing, because it takes some of the pressures from the outside world far away from your brain. All you’re thinking about is the game itself. I’d like to retain that. Even if it’s just a little each day.