Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Esri

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 3, 2009

MMO community connection:

Gaming Granny

Chapter 1: Introduction

What is your name (your online persona/alter-ego, what have you)?

Esri

What is your connection to the gaming/blogging/podcasting community (your chance to plug yourself here)?

I had a Warhammer blog for about six months (The White Lion Blog) and when I quit Warhammer I decided to go to a less focused site. The Gaming Granny has been around about six weeks now.

Please take a minute and describe what your blog/podcast is about.

MMOs and gaming in general from the perspective of an “older” female player – I am an actual “gaming granny”. I post news from the gaming world, what I’m playing now and some personal stuff.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Santa Ana, California, back when there were still orange trees there. My Dad was a Marine and I grew up in California, Virginia and North Carolina for the most part. I graduated from high school in Louisiana.

Where do you live now?

Hinesville, Georgia

Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one): 10-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90

51-60

What do you do for a living?

I am an IT Specialist for the Department of the Army, currently working in the field of Information Assurance.

If you could reroll, what would you be?

If I could reroll, I’d finish college with my first major, history, and be a professor at a university or a curator at a museum – writing historical novels in my spare time. ;)

List five random things most people don’t know about you.

  • I DO like country music.
  • I’ve spent considerable time in six or seven mmo’s – and played even more – and I’ve never had a character at the level cap either. In fact, my EQ2 character just hit the original level cap late last year. Leveling just isn’t my raison d’etre in mmo-life.
  • Ha, ha – the fact that I play mmo’s at all is something most people I didn’t meet in one don’t know about me.
  • I have one-off connections with a movie star, a TV star and a famous singer. Haven’t met any of them, but people I know either know or are related to them.
  • My favorite book is “Gone with the Wind” although “The Lord of the Rings” comes a close second, followed by the “Dragonriders of Pern” series.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I’ve been married for 26 years to the best husband in the world – he is the only one in our immediate family who isn’t a geek and somehow he’s flourished and he even gets the jokes in “The Big Bang Theory”. I have two sons and one grandson. I live with 9 cats and a dog.

Chapter 2: Origins

What kind of games (if any) did you play as a child before you got into video gaming? Did you play with family, friends or was it more of a solo activity?

I played many kinds of games as a child — board games (Monopoly, Life, Trouble, etc…), card games (from Go Fish and War to Spades and Poker), outdoor games (tag, hide and seek, Red Rover). Games were always played with others. I often played with my troll, Gumby and Pokey making up stories alone, but those weren’t games as there were no “rules” or predetermined actions.

What other hobbies and/or activities did you have as a child (sports, music, etc)?

I was not a very athletic child — I did as much physical activity as required in school, rode my bicycle as a form of transportation and for fun daily and that’s about it. In the summers we usually swam every day either in a pool or in a river somewhere. I played the accordion for about six months and that pretty much sums up “music”. I played with my friends, siblings and cousins. I read books incessantly. I watched television for a few hours in the afternoon and maybe 2 hours in the evenings.

Were you ever exposed to pen and paper role playing games? What was that experience like?

I never played pen and paper games as a child. As a young adult (early 20s) I played Dungeons and Dragons with my husband and a group of his friends. D&D filled a spot I didn’t know was empty — I loved science fiction and fantasy as a child and the chance to “be” in a fantasy world was a dream come true.

Did you read much as a child? If so, what did you like to read (books, comic books, etc?) Please list some favorite authors, titles, etc.

I read incessantly. My mother used to kick me out of the house to “get some sunshine”. I read mostly animal stories as a young child and then as a teenager I read everything from gothic romances to science fiction to non-fiction to historical novels… My favorite books as a child were the animal stories by Ernest Thompson and the series starting with “Big Red” by Jim Kjelgaard. I loved “Black Beauty” and the “Black Stallion” series. When I was about 11 I discovered the “Tarzan” series and devoured all of those. In my early teens I started reading science fiction by Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke and many others. I was a charter member of the “Science Fiction Book Club” when I was about 14-15. I still have those books on my book shelf today.

Would you say that any of these games or books had an effect on your later appreciation of computer gaming and ultimately MMOs? Please explain.

Not directly, but if you live mostly in your imagination as a child it has to have an effect on what you do as an adult. Reading about “darkest Africa” or living on Mars certainly made me susceptible to wishing I could live somewhere less mundane than Virginia or Louisiana ;)

How were you fist introduced to video games? How old were you? What was the platform?

The first video game I bought for myself, rather than my sons, was “Pool of Radiance” for the Commodore 128. I was 31 years old. Prior to that I had played games on my sons Atari 2600 system, but not very often. I played a bit of Asteroids and Space Invaders to keep the boys amused, but never got into them myself. When I played “Pool of Radiance” though, I was hooked. I played all the gold box games, then Baldur’s Gate.

Did you ever play coin-op games at the arcade? What was that experience like?

Only with my kids. Again, never a great attraction for me.

What was the first video game you can remember playing that really made an impression on you? Please explain.

“Pool of Radiance”. It was like D&D came to life — even with its little blocky graphics. “Pool of Radiance” was the first game I ever played that caused me to put off doing other stuff I should be doing, like cooking dinner (they never starved, but dinner was late quite a few times).

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I’ve never personally owned a console until the Wii. My sons had an Atari 2600, a Nintendo NES, a Nintendo 64 and a Playstation while they lived with us.

Feel free to share a story related to your gaming experience as a child.

There is an old movie, the first movie Steve McQueen ever starred in, called “The Blob”. It’s a monster movie about this blob of jelly that comes out of a meteorite and starts eating all the people in this little town. It must have shown on the “Creature Feature” on Saturday afternoon at least once a month. My cousins and siblings and I made up a version of tag based on “The Blob”. Basically, if “The Blob” tagged you, you had to hold hands with someone who was already part of “The Blob” while you tried to catch everyone who wasn’t yet a part of “The Blob”. It was huge fun and by the time you got 6 or 8 (or more) kids in “The Blob” it became a real power struggle as to who was in charge of where you were going and usually ended with a huge pile of arms and legs on the ground somewhere.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I never played any MUDs. I knew they were out there and what they were, but never really had any interest.

What was your first MMO experience?

2000 – Asheron’s Call. I had been thinking about trying an MMO for awhile — I read reviews of both Everquest and Asherons’ Call. Then I was in the Best Buy in Savannah one day and saw AC on the shelf. EQ was there too and, quite frankly, I chose between them based upon the cover art. From the first logon, I was hooked. I remember a day or so after I started playing, I had my husband playing on a second account. My son came home for a long weekend from college and said “What’s that? Can I try it?” So, he made a character on his Dad’s account and we were running around Holtsburg together. We were hunting in the swamp and my son, at the desk behind me, said “What’s that?” I glanced over at his monitor and literally shouted “REEDSHARK!!!! RUN!!!!!!” I hated those things — as a baby melee they just ate me up. By level 10 or so I had built my stamina up enough that I could handle them, but in the beginning they literally terrified me. My husband played AC for a couple of months before he got bored and I don’t think my son ever played more than that one time, but I was in love. For two years, Dereth was where I was when I wasn’t working or taking care of my family. I didn’t watch TV, I didn’t read, I just played AC. I remember Christmas of 2000 — my sons were both gone with friends for the holiday. It was the first holiday we’d spent without them home. After I got the turkey in the oven (yes, I made a big dinner for just me and my husband… we ate turkey for a week!), I sat down and logged into AC. The server, Thistledown, was practically empty. I ported to Holtsburg and just started running north. I was running through the falling snow and everything was so empty and peaceful. I just felt at home. It was an amazing moment and one I remember (obviously) to this day as a great MMO moment — just me and the virtual world. Just running around seeing sites I’d never seen.

If possible, list all the MMOs you’ve played extensively.

Let’s give this a try:

  • Asheron’s Call – 2000-2003 and then off and on until 2006 – Aluvian Dagger, 82
  • Asheron’s Call 2 – Beta from “Friends and Family” and then 2 or 3 months into live – Human melee of some kind, level 25 or 26?
  • Earth & Beyond – Open Beta and 1 month into live – Space Trucker — no idea what race or actual class or level.
  • Star Wars Galaxies – Beta from Shuttle 1 Closed Beta and 2 years into live. Human Creature Handler. I loved that game and my creatures. The game and my guild friends saw me through a very bad year after I lost my mother to lung cancer. When I wasn’t working or playing SWG that year, I was sleeping.
  • Everquest 2 – 18 months steady starting at launch and I still play off and on a few months at a time. Kerra Guardian, 62.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – Beta and a lifetime subscription. Human Guardian, 44.
  • Warhammer Online – Beta and 3 months into live. High Elf White Lion, 26.
  • Eve Online – Tried to play in beta, but couldn’t figure out how to fly my ship! Tried to play soon after it went live, still couldn’t figure out how to fly my ship! Read about a new tutorial about 3 years ago and finally figured out how to play. Played for about 18 months before I got distracted. Went back after the expansion pack was released a month ago. I started a new character due to the change in the way skills were distributed to new characters — wanted a more focused character for industry. There are no levels or classes in Eve, but my current main is Caldari and I have a second account with a 2 year old Caldari miner character.

What is your current MMO of choice, or perhaps, what are your current MMOs of choice?

I am currently playing Eve Online (two accounts), occasionally logging in to Lord of the Rings Online and just started beta testing a game that shall remain nameless.

Which MMO have you spent the most time playing? How long would you say that has been?

In hours probably Star Wars Galaxies, but I’m not sure. In years, Everquest 2 — going on 5 years.

Have you reached level cap in any MMO? If so, which ones?

Never have.

Loki taps you on the shoulder one day to inform you that you have fallen victim to one of his elaborate pranks. The world you’ve been inhabiting of countless MMOs to choose from and play has merely been a dream. In reality only one MMO exists. After laughing at you for a bit he decides to take pity on you and allows you to choose which MMO will remain. Which one would you choose and why?

On any given day, I’d probably have a different answer, but even though I’m playing Eve primarily at the moment, if I had to choose I’d take Everquest II, because it is the game I keep going back to and the one my friends keep going back to. If there was only one game, I think we’d all be happy if it was EQ2.

Are there any MMOs currently in development that you are particularly interested in? Please explain.

“Beam me up, Scotty” — Star Trek Online. I’ve loved Star Trek since I was 11. Given any universe save this one to live in, I think it would be that one. If done right, Star Trek Online is going to be an awesome game. I am also watching Free Realms, so I can play with my step-granddaughters in Minnesota, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Chapter 4: Preferences

At your peak, how much time per week would you say you spent gaming?

Probably 40-50 hours.

How about now?

10 – 30 hours.

When during the week are your regular play times?

I usually play for an hour or two in the early evening during the week, maybe 4 hours on Saturday and 6 on Sunday.

Generally speaking, are you more of a social creature in MMOs (grouping to quest, joining guilds, etc.) or something of a lone wolf?

I’m both. I join guilds (usually with the same people I’ve been gaming with for years, but not always), participate in guild chat, but do most of my playing solo. Some games I’m more solo and some I group more, but for the main part I like to play “together alone”.

Have you made any lasting friendships through your MMO experience? Please explain.

Oh, yes. In fact I just got back from a long weekend get-together with a group of long-time gaming friends. We still play together in various games, some in one, some in another, have our own forums and congregate in Facebook and about once a year we get together in “real life” and have a blast. I have other friends that I talk to in IM even though we haven’t played a game together in over 5 years.

Before logging into a game, do you already have a course of action planned out in your head, or do you just sort of do whatever you feel like once in game?

Most of the time I have a plan, but sometimes I get distracted and sometimes I just log in and go with the flow.

When playing MMOs do you tend to just play one at a time or do you take more of the smorgasbord approach?

I used to play one at a time, but now I have subs to multiple games going at once. Right now I have subscriptions to Eve Online, Everquest II, Free Realms and a lifetime sub to Lord of the Rings Online.

Do you tend to supplement your MMO gaming with other PC, console or tabletop games?

Yes. I play the occasional board game, an hour or so of Wii per week and the odd game of Mah-Jhong on the PC. Occasionally, I’ll buy a single-player PC game and spend a few days or weeks in that.

Are you something of an altoholic?

I mostly use alts to try out new or alternate starter area content and classes and those alts seldom make it past the starter areas in games. My altaholic tendencies are satisfied by the multi-game approach — I used to play alts more often when I was playing one game at a time.

Do you find yourself multitasking while gaming (perhaps watching TV, talking on the phone, out of game instant messaging, playing another game, or even listening to a podcast)?

Very seldom. I used to be able to do multiple things at a time — for instance, I always had a book I was reading while watching TV, but these days my only multitasking takes place at work, where it is a necessity and at home I try to concentrate on one thing at a time. Sometimes when mining in Eve Online, I will be doing something like working on a skill training plan, watching a baseball game or working on my trade spreadsheets, but other than that, I’m pretty focused.

Do you find yourself having much MMO discussion off-line, perhaps with friends or family?

I talk about my gaming with my husband and sons, but not really with anyone else — except when I get together with gaming friends.

Have you ever felt that you game too much? If so, how did you cope with that?

I have felt like I was spending too much time gaming — I’ve even quit because of it. I soon found that I didn’t get much else that was useful done, gaming time tends to be filled by watching TV when I stop. Gaming is no more a waste of time than TV, so I don’t worry about it too much anymore.

Since you started playing MMOs, have you ever taken a break from the genre? If so, please explain.

I have taken breaks from gaming every couple of years or so since I started spending gobs of time on it 10 years ago. I’ve quit a couple of times because I wanted to spend more time on my genealogy studies and those breaks have been well used and helpful. I set a goal for the genealogy studies and work on that until I meet the goal and that works well. I’ve also stopped a couple of times simply because I felt I was “wasting time” playing games — those breaks aren’t as helpful… I usually end up watching too much TV and DVDs and not accomplishing any more than I would have gaming. My total breaks from gaming usually last 3 to 6 months, whether for genealogy or “just because”.

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I started blogging in July 2008. I blogged on The White Lion Blog, a Warhammer specific blog, until January of this year when I quit playing Warhammer. I had intended to quit blogging, but several readers suggested I try a non-game-specific blog and The Gaming Granny was born.

Why do you blog?

I started blogging to evangelize the White Lion class in Warhammer. Although I tired of Warhammer, I did not tire of the White Lion. It is probably my dream class — a melee-DPS class with a pet that is a LION!!! What more could you ask for? I still miss my war lion, Ravi. I continue to blog primarily because I like to write. I’ve come to consider my readers friends and even though the communication is mostly one-way, I feel it is an important part of my life.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

I am currently neither playing games nor blogging on any kind of schedule due to pressing personal concerns other than blogging once a week or so to keep my few, but loyal, readers up-to-date on my status. When I am actively gaming, I try to have 3 or 4 blog posts a week. I generally write my posts first thing in the morning. A week will generally see the “Sunday Sampler” which is a compilation of gaming news and posts from fellow bloggers from the previous week that I found to be of compelling interest, a couple of “what I’m doing in x game” posts and maybe a cute animal post. I occasionally blog about my personal life, as well.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, what is it and how do you cope with it?

I simply don’t do “grind”. If I find something is “grindy”, I stop doing it, at least for awhile. That’s one reason I switch games every six months or so. I often go back to a game I’ve played in the past, but it seems I’m always going to switch every once in awhile.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

I enjoy writing and I enjoy the give and take with commentors.

How many people offline know you blog?

Maybe 6. ;) My family, my boss (although she doesn’t know what I blog about) and one friend. Everyone else who knows I blog is primarily an online friend or a blog reader.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

I hardly consider myself in the position to give advice, but I do feel strongly that if you are going to write you need to use proper grammar and spelling. :)

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

I can’t think of anything, really. I enjoy blogging — when I no longer enjoy it, I just won’t do it anymore. That’s the way I roll.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Yes. I’m not ready to do so yet, but I’m sure the time will come where I think “this isn’t fun anymore”. I have a lot of stuff I have to do that isn’t fun, so I don’t spend my free time doing stuff like that.

At your funeral, what song(s) would you have played as your corpse is set alight and cast out to sea on a funeral barge?

Who said I was going to have a funeral?

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2 Responses to “Esri”

  1. Saylah said

    Hi Esri.

    Over the years of blogging I’ve often wondered how many people who are writing blogs are aspiring authors. I know of a couple because of they mention participating in NaNoWriMo. It’s fun to hear of another. Hello from Augusta, GA. :-)

  2. [...] Esri [...]

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