Really, I was just hanging out at my boyfriend’s place watching him kill stuff in his online game, Star Wars Galaxies (yes, the shuttered, former redheaded stepchild of the MMO sphere). He was outdoors on some planet with other players in the multiplayer game. I think he had been defending some rebel encampment from the Imperials, (or maybe he was killing thousands of spiders), but there was a lull. I was looking over his shoulder and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that several of his fellow players were dancing.
You have to realize that up until that point, I had never played any kind of video games, let alone a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, where your avatar (toon) inhabits a space that is shared by other real people’s avatars. We never even had console games in my house growing up — it just wasn’t an interest of mine. But here was my boyfriend, whose online toon is a Jedi, standing next to dancing Wookiees and other Star Wars-y characters. And he, and they were dancing! I learned later that the dance moves were stop-motion capture — I couldn’t believe how realistic the movement looked. And it was funny as hell.
My BF figured out how to make his own toon dance. Soon, groups of players were busting some synchronized moves with their fellows. It was really hysterical, and I was totally intrigued by it. Games like that couldn’t be too tedious if you could dance in-game! People were talking to each other — the speech appeared above their heads in bubbles. You could talk to the other players — you didn’t just have to go kill stuff. Hmm.
So, that was why God invented the 14-day free trial. I created my first toon, Aureliana, she of the blue hair. Aureliana became a master entertainer who could do a whole bunch of different dances and could play many instruments as well — no combat required. Aureliana and I traveled throughout the planets sightseeing and in general being tourists. We came across beautiful places on many planets (an especial favorite is the beautiful purple ground cover on Dantooine). We traveled to Mustafar and got an extremely strong sense of the tragic history of the place.
And then I got bored and she changed jobs. She became a master commando, and to get to that level, we have killed a whole lot of spiders (among other things), and finally she became a Jedi. And I can’t forget my second main in SWG, Aureliana’s half-sister, Ayaleeta. I miss SWG. Dantooine, Mustafar, Tatooine – these are in some important way real places to me, and they’re gone now. (I tried SWTOR and hated it – the worlds were so *ugly*. And there wasn’t any entertaining.) I’m happily playing in Middle Earth now in LOTRO, but every now and again I go look at a YouTube video made by SWG players while the game was still running.