Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Darren

Posted by Randolph Carter on March 18, 2009

MMO community connection:
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Chapter 1: Introduction

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

My name is Darren, but most of my character’s names are Belmirus, or Bel-something.

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

I’m host over at the Shut Up. We’re Talking podcast. I also do a blog called Commonsensegamer.

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

Well…the podcast is about bringing other bloggers on the “airwaves” to talk about various hot topics that have been circulating in the blog-o-sphere. It’s a great way to put a voice to some of the bloggers we read everyday.

The blog is mostly about MMOs, but I talk about almost everything on there.

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Scarborough…that’s near Toronto in Canada.

I grew up in various small towns in Northern Ontario…mostly in Sudbury and a small North Shore town called Blind River.

Where do you live now?

I live in Ottawa right now

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

31-40…though I’m hoping to defy all logic and stay under 40 ;)

What do you do for a living?

I’m an Electrical Engineer by training. Most of my career has been spent in Verification and Testing of software and telecommunications systems. I also have done some design work as well.

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

A fighter pilot.

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

  • I like all types of music, depending on my mood.
  • I like dogs more than cats…big dogs, not the yippy kind that you just want to field punt.
  • I use to draw my own comic books. My most loved one was a series called Super Pajama.
  • I don’t like sushi…unless you throw it on the grill.
  • I don’t like unions.

Feel free to discuss any family you have here.

I have two daughters, aged 3 and 8 and a wonderful wife. A cat and two mice.

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?

Back in the day, my friends and I use to play a game we just called “guns”. We’d go out in the small set of trees behind the school or just around the neighborhood and just pretend we were two opposing armies battling it out. Involved lots of running. You’ve all probably done it before. The game usually involved the conversation “I got you!”…”No…I got you first!!!” A lot of the games I played as a kid would probably get me put on some kind of program these days.

…oh…and we’d also play ball tag. In the dark. With a hard ball. Yeah….mental, I know.

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

Use to play baseball quite a bit.

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

Oh yeah. Use to play it quite a bit in grade 7 and 8. Good times. The experience was ok…not earth shattering…but fun.

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.

Read plenty. Choose Your Own Adventure and Comics where what I mostly read.

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.

They probably helped with the imagination part of things. To me, they were just good entertainment.

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

This is kind of fuzzy. I can’t seem to recall if my first real gaming experience was on the C64 or a PET computer. More than likely, it was the PET.

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

…but of course. Punch Out. I probably could have bought my own country for all the money I spent on that game.

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

Karateka. Well…most of the C64 games made a HUGE impression on me. I think it was the C64 that made me a gamer.

What gaming consoles have you owned in the past?

NES, Atari 2600, ColecoVision

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

…it’s all a blur involving fire, duct tape and peanut butter.

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever exposed to MUDs?

I fiddled with Meridian 59, but not very much as school was a complete, and total bitch about time ;)

What was your first MMO experience?

I remember it like it was yesterday. The first MMO experience for me was AC2 and then the flood gates opened. I was mostly a flight sim and strategy gamer before that…so that game changed it all.

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

In order?? Hahaha!!!! Very funny. This won’t be anywhere near in order, but here is the list anyway

  • AC2
  • EQ
  • EQ2
  • WoW
  • LOTRO
  • CoH
  • Eve
  • Tabula Rasa
  • Warhammer Online
  • DDO
  • Guild Wars

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

  • LOTRO
  • Eve Online
  • CoH (…but this might be a very short stay…)

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

World of Warcraft…without a doubt. I would have to say I spent about 2 years playing that one.

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

Just world of Warcraft. Very close on LOTRO and EQ2 though…does that count?

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?

After I beat the living snot out of Loki, I then choose World of Warcraft. It is the best game out there, pound for pound.

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

Oh yes.

Start Trek Online looks really good and I’m interested in it for obvious reasons…but Star Wars trumps that by an order of mangnitude. Why? Because it’s Bioware.

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

One time, Zonk made his Dwarf dance…and I’ve never been the same since.

Chapter 4: Preferences

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

I’m kinda at my peak now surprisingly. How does that happen? ;)

I’m usually playing something a couple hours a day, more on the weekends.

When during the week are your regular play times?

Right after the kids go to bed. So that is usually after 8pm EST.

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

I go between both states actually…depending on how I feel at the time. I am noticing that I like to play with people more than not though.

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

Absolutely. In EQ2, I ran across this group of people sitting in a huge circle just outside the North gate of Qeynos. I asked what was going on and they said, “guild meeting”. Well, I asked about joining up because I was just very impressed about their organization. I’ve gamed with the same core group of people off and on for years now.

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 usually have a plan going into the game, but I rarely follow through with those plans cause usually, something better comes up.

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

I try to keep it to two MMOs at a time…with single player games rounding out the picture.

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

…yeah, I do plenty of single player games. Not really much of a console gamer.

Are you something of an altoholic?

Nope. I usually stick to one character.

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)?

The only game I can do that with is Eve Online. I find myself watch quite a few TED videos lately while doing missions.

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

ummmm……yes? ;)

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

Yes…I do game too much sometimes and I usually don’t deal with it because it is part of who I am. Oh well…. ;)

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

Not really. Since I play single player games as well, I find that the option is always there to take a break.

One Response to “Darren”

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