Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Saylah

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 4, 2009

MMO community connection:

Mystic Worlds

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

I’m more commonly known as Saylah which is the first name I donned in an MMORPG. As time went by and I created alts I added Illinah and Alysianah too. Over the years, I’ve found it harder to secure Saylah in games and have switched over to Alysianah.

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

Outside of the game’s actual community, I’m most known for my blog Mystic Worlds. MW is actually my second gaming journal/blog. Unfortunately, I was a bit short-sighted with the first blog after Asheron’s 2 closed down. The day I left AC2 I deleted the blog. I was heart sore from watching the wonderful people I played with leave the game one by one. I didn’t think I’d invest in another game enough to warrant a blog. It was a crazy sensitive time in my life. I’d stumbled into MMOs while recovering from cancer. AC2 had become a place I could go when I needed a break from the pain and reality of that situation.
Once I was in recovery and back to work, I still played and kept in close touch with guild mates in and outside of the game. A month or so later the guild reformed in World of Warcraft. I was skeptical but went along for the ride. When I fell in love with WOW, I kicked off Mystic Worlds and it has been live ever since.

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

Mystic Worlds is about my gaming adventures and gaming commentary. It’s very much about the journey my characters take in the games I play. There’s more gaming commentary in this blog that the original which contained a lot more fiction vs. commentary and opinion. I’m big on taking screenshots even though everyone that’s playing the game sees much the same thing for themselves. For me however, the screenshots are like taking pictures for a family album, they’re cookie crumbs to stir happy memories.
The blog is not all sunshine and smiles. I’ve been known to break into a rant when something I’ve read, seen or experienced in a game or the internet, really pisses me off. I welcome dialog and opposing ideas as long as we treat each other with respect.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Queens NY

Where do you live now?

When we were ready to start a family, my ex-husband and I moved to GA near where my parents and siblings had moved. Twelve years later, I was divorced and took a career opportunity in Chicago where I lived for 11 years. I’m not back in GA and have been for the past 3 years.

Your level (age) is somewhere in the range of (pick one): 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90

41 to 50

What do you do for a living?

Business Intelligence and Strategy in the Telecomm industry

If you could re-roll your career, what would you be?

That’s a really hard question. The ultimate dream is published fiction author. However, I’d settle for something less stressful that would at least allow me the mental downtime I need to focus more on writing fiction more. The essay style of blogging is something I can do even when stressed whereas I find it hard to write fiction under those circumstances. I’m hoping to leave Corporate America within the next five years to start a bakery or tea shoppe where I can find more equilibrium during the day and sneak in writing time.

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

  • Mother of 3, 2 of which I turned into gaming lovers too.
  • Thrice published author of technical books.
  • Studied to be a dancer and attend the high school immortalized in the movie Fame. I studied and danced with several of the dancers from the movie, who attended the High School of Performing Arts in NYC.
  • Excellent cook and co-owned a bistro with ex-husband.
  • Dream vacation is to see the pyramids of Egypt.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

My kids, nephews and I are avid board gamers. With the exception of my oldest daughter, I’ve converted them all to playing MMOs too. Together we’ve had some amazing good fun playing AC2 and WOW. We’ve drifted off to different games since WOW but still connect via the mutual appreciation of RPG gaming. My sister isn’t always happy that I corrupted her son in our gaming shenanigans. With the exception of my nephew, everyone’s grown up and gone. Often there are few things more fun than when we are all online from different locations, running around a virtual world together.

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?

As children, we played mostly board games. It was one of my favorite group pastimes. I had a standing request for a new game for my birthday. I think we would have loved role-playing games had there been anyone to show them to us. We wrote a lot of skits and plays that we performed for family and friends.

Our first video game was the original Atari. In college, friends introduced me to arcade games, which I played on a regular basis. Tempest and Galaxian were my games of choice for a long time. Years later, I purchased my first Nintendo and was the queen of Street Fighter.

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

Beyond games, I danced for most of my childhood. I studied ballet for 16 years. Dancing was my one true passion up until college. Friends and my parents probably thought it was more of an obsession. I studied dance seven days a week.

I attended the High School of Performing Arts which is the school showcased in the movie, Fame. I danced with many of the principle dancers featured in the movie. Moreover, while some of the impromptu dancing in the streets and on cars is an exaggeration, I have danced in the street and on the sidewalks of New York City. I’ve danced on the subway platforms and in train cars. Anywhere that found a few of us from school standing together for any length of time could instantly turn into an impromptu rehearsal. Looking back, we must have seemed insane – or not, given that we were NYers.

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

No.

Did you read much as a child?

I didn’t fall in love with reading until High School. I was writing a lot of poetry at the time. An assignment to read Hamlet showed me how poetic prose could be in the hands of a master. Shortly after Hamlet, I read my first Judy Blume book, Forever. That was it. I was hooked on the power of words as an expressive art form.

My favorite authors are Stephen R. Donaldson, Roger Zelanzy, J.K. Rowling, Sharon Kay Penman, Dan Simmons and Jane Austen for penning my favorite books The Mirror of Her Dreams, The Great Book of Amber, Harry Potter series, Here Be Dragons, Illium, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion.

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

None of the authors listed did but Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings did for sure. It wasn’t until the massively title Middle Earth Online was announced that I made a connection between fantasy and gaming.

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

Parents bought an Atari. I think I was in my early teens. It didn’t have a lasting impression on me. I thought it was a fun little pastime back then but nothing more than that.

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

In college, I hung out with friends at a local pub that had video machines and cheap pizza. Put those two together and there was always a crowd. I still wasn’t into gaming. I played Pacman, Donkey Kong and such but it wasn’t anything more than something to do while waiting for pizza.

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

Asheron’s Call 2. It was my first MMO and I was completely blown away by the fact that I could actually walk around and interact in a fantasy world. The idea and reality of it really rocked my world. I was a diehard fantasy lover by then consuming books and movies like candy and chips. As a ardent The Sims player most of the settings I created for my characters were all fantasy using the game mods and hacks being produced by other skilled players in the TS community.

Just getting into a fantasy setting that was already devised without all the painstaking setup required of me doing the same thing in The Sims was amazing. Walking among characters controlled by other players was very surreal. I’d tried Ultima Online and Horizons briefly just before purchasing AC2. I didn’t like either of them and quickly bailed. There was something about the mood and tone in AC2 that instantly captured me. That feeling remained me until the last day I played – when the servers were shutdown.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

I’m not a console gamer. The only title I bought explicitly for myself was Harvest Moon.

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