The year was 1999 and I was 12 years old. Video games were already a passion of mine, but it was all console. My family had recently purchased a Nintendo 64, and I spent hours playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time, NFL Blitz, and Goldeneye. A friend knowing that I was a gamer asked me to come over and check out his computer games. He said that he was playing an online game that was as big as the real world and that other people from around the world were playing together. Intrigued I went to see it firsthand. Now eighteen years later I can still hear the sound and envision my friend portaling into the world that I now know as Dereth. The world was massive and ready to explore. The character on the screen could run, jump, collect loot, fight, and even specialize in skills like archery, swordsmanship, and crafting.
As quickly as possible I got my hands on a copy of Asheron’s Call, and convinced my parents to allow me to get a monthly subscription. It took all night on a 56k dial-up to download patch updates for the game. The next evening after school I logged into a town called Rithwic, and began one of the most epic journeys of my life. My friend was in town, and our goal was to run to another nearby town called Eastham. It would be dangerous, because the forests were filled with vicious monsters. We ran along a road for about five minutes when a two-footed lizard began to chase after me. “Keep running!” my friend shouted in the text box. Trusting him I continued to sprint along the path praying that our destination would come soon.
Eventually I saw buildings in the distance, and we entered what would become my AC hometown. It’s name was Eastham and it was a cheery little city near the beach. Days after school involved me exploring the surrounding area for dungeons, monsters, and working on collecting loot. School days were spent daydreaming about AC and creating lists of to-do items once I could log in.
To this day I still love MMORPG’s. I play them, podcast about them, and talk about them all the time. They’re one of my favorite pastimes, but every single one is compared to Asheron’s Call the game that gave me a foundation in online games. While playing new games I compare to AC’s PvP politics, the XP chains, the large friendly clan communities, the expansive amount of loot, and the fact that jumping was a skill you could learn. There’s a lot of new great MMORPG’s out there, but none will ever give me the feeling of wonder that Asheron’s Call gave me as a kid.