Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Sister Julie

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 15, 2009

MMO community connection:

No Prisoners No Mercy

Chapter 1: Introduction

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

On occasion I get asked “Why do you write under the name ‘Julie Whitefeather’?” The reply is simply because that’s my name – I don’t use a “nom de plume” of any sort. I don’t believe in hiding behind an ‘online’ personality. The person you hear on the podcast and read in the column is who I am. Now if considering names I have been CALLED before, that’s different. Names like “Heretic” come to mind.

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

I started out writing for sources other than gaming; such as the book that my convent asked me to write. I began writing about gaming fiction featured on places like battleclinic.com. I have written regular columns about videogames and the videogame industry for WoW Chronicles and Online Gaming Radio. Currently I write for virginworlds.com where my column and the No Prisoners, No Mercy Podcast are hosted. My fiction is currently hosted as a guest author on lorewriter.com which is owned and authored by R.W. Harper from Gorilla Systems – an independent game developer whose name I EXPECT to see here (hint, hint). The audio version of my fiction is currently part of the Gamers Fiction Podcast hosted by Saylah.

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

We constantly get letters saying include more or less of particular games. The podcast originally started out as “Age of Conuns” as some of our listeners are aware. When it became “No Prisoners, No Mercy” and part of (and proudly so) the Virgin Worlds Collective it began to reflect the direction of my column for Brent – in other words it is not about any one particular game. We tend to concentrate on games that interest us most at the time. Beyond that it is a matter of what we consider it interesting to talk about, and Warhammer always provides some delightful material.

Such is the case with the personalized email Fran recently received from Mythic not only begging her to come back but saying your guildies (which it went on to list) are still in the game; the whole thing sound like boyfriend who had been dumped begging to be taken back.

Like the name of the podcast suggest, it is a “no holds barred” type of podcast – nothing is sacred (at least nothing in the gaming industry). This is true of my column as well. On occasion I am compared to a “shock jock” but that is only rarely and I was not the first one to make the comparison.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Where was I born? Which time?  Home, as they say, is where the heart is. However I have lived in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Seoul, Korea.

Where do you live now?

Des Plaines, Illinois – and if you intend to come and “get” me for some part of my column or podcast remember…we have dogs.

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

Asking a lady her age? Is that exactly polite? How’s this for an answer: “old enough to have been around the block and wise enough not to go around again.”

What do you do for a living?

I am a nun, a writer and a project manager – in that order.

If you could reroll your career, what would you be?

They say a job is what you do with your time and a career is what you do with your life. I like my careers just fine – writing and being a nun. The job part I would drop if I could. I wouldn’t change part of the career I would just add to it, but that will come in time.

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

  • I am related to Herbert Hoover
  • I have a degree in theater and have acted professionally (albeit briefly).
  • I am a Buddhist AND Christian nun (that’s where the “heretic” name sometimes comes in).
  • I have written a book about my life (for the convent).
  • I have had relationships three out of the four possible ways.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

My convent is my family.

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 will spare your readers the story of my long, and somewhat less than idyllic (and at times torturous) childhood – suffice it to say I had friends. I will point out that when I was a child even the videogame “Pong” was a far flung dream, yet to be conceived in the imagination of its creators. If you wanted to use a computer you punched cards and fed them into a reader.

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

I played a mean “Sax” for awhile. Beyond that my plans for winning an Oscar and world domination seem to have fallen by the wayside.

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

I have been “exposed to” before but that was on a train in Chicago and I told the gentlemen in question to “put the silly thing away.”

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.

As a child I read a lot of the back of cereal boxes – I think my favorite authors included Cheerios, Wheaties and Sugar Pops. Favorite authors are a think of adult hood (or at least as much of an adult I can approximate) and as you will find in later questions includes David Webber, William Gibson, Terese of Avila, Therese Martin, The current Dalai Lama, and some selected works of the Apostle Paul.

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.

This assumes that I appreciate video games. I am, however, looking forward to Star Trek Online. The best influence there would be Gene Roddenberry – without him Star Trek would not have existed. It’s hard to match that kind of influence on an mmo.

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

You want to know how old I was when I was introduced to video games? Hells Bells I can’t remember how old I am now. In fact I have managed to block it out of my mind on purpose – I once went as long as a year that way until my mother, God rest her soul, inadvertently reminded me (she was wrong).

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

I have indeed played coin op games at arcades, commissaries and other places. What was the experience like? – Expensive.

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

The active phrase here (at least semantically speaking) is “made an impression you” – I am still waiting for a videogame to make an impression on me. Hence, the title of one of my recent articles for Virginworlds.com… “In space no one can hear you yawn.”

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

Play station, Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Panasonic 3do

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

I try hard to forget my childhood…let’s not share any memories from it.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

The last time I was exposed to MUD was a long time ago when someone threw it at me. I grabbed them by the collar…it went on from there. I did, however, play a text based game called “Zork” as well as a space based 2-d game on the large computers at a particular university which, as they say, “shall remain nameless”. It was always late at night – back when the only screens where “amber” screens and there was no such thing as a Playstation.

What was your first MMO experience?

Again with the year questions – the only reason I remember my own name is that my cohost shouts it at me all day long. I do remember the first mmo I ever played, however. That game was called “Ultima Online”. There were many interesting aspects that set Ultima Online apart from any other game, not the least of which was that player housing was not instanced. The result was a virtual megalopolis necessitating dodging between the allies and avenues created by player housing as one tried to traverse the landscape.

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

List my main by class and level for each game? You have got to be kidding – is this a questionnaire or a memory test? Do I get graded afterwards? Some of the games I have played are Everquest 1, Everquest 2, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Voyage Century, Warhammer Online, and Lord of the Rings Online – there may be others but at the moment my mind is still reeling from the “by class and level” part of the question…I think I need coffee now.

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

My current mmo of choice, if Cryptic ever finishes with it (thank goodness it was resurrected) is Star Trek Online. I would love to try Aion but alas neither I nor my co-host were invited to the beta. There are a few mmos that seem to follow me around like a lost puppy: World of Warcraft, Eve Online (yawn), Warhammer Online, and Lord of the Rings Online.

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

Ah here you must be more specific – the most time playing when actual months or years the subscription remains active is concerned? The most time actually playing the game? That one would be difficult as I would have had to keep a log of the playing time.

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

Again with the memory questions – you really do believe in taxing this middle aged broad’s memory don’t you? I seem to recall reaching the level cap a few times in several games but the problem with mmos is they keep moving the damn things. It’s so hard to keep up. I like the concept of Eve Online…no level cap. How about Ultima Online? That doesn’t even have a levels.

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?

My first reaction would be to wonder who had slipped what hallucinogenic drug into my food since I am, supposedly, conversing with a mythological being. Beyond that, I recall the furor that Richard Bartle caused when he said that if he had the ability he would get rid of World of Warcraft. That being the case I would tell Loki to get rid of whatever game Richard Bartle is currently playing – that will teach him.

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

I am very interested in Star Trek Online. Why? Hells bells man, that’s simple – IT’S STAR TREK!!!

Feel free to share an interesting or amusing anecdote related to your MMO gaming experience.

There is no antidote to gaming…once you have played an mmo you’re hooked.

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

Well, where I live now it’s about 300 feet above sea level, and that’s not much of a peak. I traveled through the continental divide once, but I didn’t have a game with me even though that was a very high peak. But then, again that wasn’t really “MY” peak…it was in Yellowstone National park, so really that particular peak belongs to the State of Wyoming. That presents an interesting point…how do you ask a state how much time it spends gaming? Can a state game at all? After all the State of Nevada has a lot of gaming.

When during the week are your regular play times?

I have never had a problem with regularity – on those rare occasions when I do I usually make sure I get a lot of fiber in my diet. Did I get that question right? When will the grades be passed out?

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

The only creature I have ever played in an mmo would be a tauren and that isn’t really a creature is it? It’s more of a creature/being. I have been some nice people in mmos and because of the writing and podcasting I do about it. MMOs are part of what Marshall McLuhan called “The Global Village”. Getting around the global village has allowed me to meet people I never would have otherwise. But every mmo has people who treat others around them badly. Those people are creatures – jackasses.

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

This assumes, of course, that I have had lasting friendships. I have had lasting friendships, of course, but they had nothing to do with gaming – Unless you count the friendship with my sister, cohost and mother superior. I have a lifelong friendship with her but the mmo came after the friendship. Does that even count? I mean we met the first time because of Star Trek and a Star Trek Online game is coming out but I guess you can’t say we met because of Star Trek Online, even though it is Star Trek…or can you. I think I derailed my train of thought here.

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?

I guess it depends very much on what I am logging on to the game for – but “course of action” makes it sound too much like a battle plan…it’s a game, not a strategy for the D-Day Invasion.

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

A smorgasbord approach? Are we talking about food or video games here…I think you have me confused.

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

I like supplements – they’re good for you. I make my mmos take vitamin C.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Never…I only rarely have a beer and even then only with pizza.

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)?

I drink coffee while I game – does that count as multitasking? If so than I do A LOT of multitasking because I drink A LOT OF COFFEE.

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

Oh I hope so…otherwise my column would simply be a blank page and the podcast I co-host at Virginworlds.com would be nothing but dead airspace – which is fine, I suppose if you are reviewing a zombie game but it would still be a bit boring.

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

Too much by who’s standards? By my standard? Those change. What about someone else’s standards? My co-hosts standards? She’s my sister and I care about that. By anyone else’s standards? Who cares what they think about how much I game. As far as coping is concerned, a little apathy about the issue goes a long way. If you don’t care how much you game there is nothing to cope with.

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

I take breaks from gaming all the time – coffee breaks.

One Response to “Sister Julie”

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