Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Saylah (Chapter 2)

Posted by Randolph Carter on April 17, 2009

MMO community connection:

Mystic Worlds

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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