Ian-Only-A-Farm has been waiting since January 20th for me to meet with him. And, I’ve really hated keeping this banker waiting! You see, I’ve never understood entirely why certain players become an ATM, or a bank. It doesn’t seem like it would be that much fun to play KL with a mindset that your goal was to be attacked and give away as much of your hard-earned gold as possible.
I step up to the bank queue with a long line of others. My interviewee notices me through the small, thick glass window and waves me over to the door. I figure I’ll be invited into a well-appointed suite, and be offered a tasty espresso drink, or some barbecued mutton. But instead the door opens to what amounts to be a cell with a funny looking glass screen at the end. I hear a voice prompt me to enter my PIN. I’m not sure what that is, but figure my army code will do. I set my maul down and type in R2N3SM.
A series of beeps and boops occur and I read on the magical glass green screen: “Hello General Candel. Welcome! Type in your first question.”
I shrug my shoulders, a bit dissatisfied with where this interview might be going. But trying to be tolerant, I type in: “Was KL your first multi-player online game?
IOAF (I just can’t bear to keep writing out his full name) is a much better typist than I, because out of a slot, a slip of paper with the following comes out: "
"I first played multiplayer RPG Role Playing Games decades ago through a Bulletin Board System using an 8088 computer and 2400 baud modem. Everything was using ascii color coded texts, and the math portion was FAR simpler. Loads left to chance. This game seems to be holding attention primarily because of the social angle of everything, in addition to the desire to become like something or someone different from their usual life. Lords, Ladies, Chaos, Peacekeepers, people living in a state of pretensive being. I find the communing with others to be one of the most enjoyable parts, and have become involved with many people's lives in the process."
I’m already impressed by IOAF’s writing. I make a mental note to discover what is a “pretensive being” is. I type in: “Tell me about your name.”
Out pops another thin sheet of paper from the metal box: "Keeping the name today is rather important, given that my game name is Ian-Only-A-Farm. My name states my purpose in playing the game. When people read it, they understand why I'm here: to help others by becoming a target that they can benefit from without fear of recrimination, or bounty. Recently, I considered changing my name several times, but decided against it, because of the net loss I view when using the points for a name change, is approximately 60 million gold. Thats 10 million per 10 points that I could otherwise use to give away. The initial name, Ian was a mistake. It was supposed to read, Iam-only-A-Farm. But again, if I spent another 30 points, it was like throwing money away after nothing good."
“That makes sense! Iam instead of Ian” I say out loud. “When did you first begin playing KL?” I wait, but nothing happens. I realize I have to type it in. With a harrumph, I do so.
Paper: "I am sure it has been over 6 months now, since I deleted the app and reloaded it a few times after being away for over a month. I am now on daily. Trying to help others is a part of the game, and missing a few days can make a big difference, although real life can be more enjoyable than the game. I'm on at least 4-10 times trying to boost my wins against my 87000 losses, so at some point I can go back to being a simple Golden Delicious Farmer, giving away my bounty."
I type in, “Do you regularly make wall posts?”
Out pops: "I have been keeping in touch with a lot of friends for months now. Since this is so, I'm sometimes asking how their weekend plans have gone, or how the mother in law is who went in for surgery, or if work is shaping up a little. Some I just flirt with, knowing that they're on an opposite side of the country. It is a way to reach out, without having deep meaningful relationships, yet when exchanging comments over a period of time, one begins to know a person far better than some ‘RL’ or real life friends and associates. Without the face to face interaction, you can't tell what is really reality, but there is something about the way a person words what they're saying back that tells a lot about moods, etc."
I nod to myself as I read. I think that Ian is a pretty insightful guy. I type in next, “Do you think of KL as being a creative outlet for you? Do you make up poems or do artwork that you include in your posts?”
IAOF writes: "No. I have put time into being jovial, and friendly to people in the game, similarly to how I would like or hope to be outside the game. Poems and artwork are things I appreciate, but don't participate in making myself."
I write, “Tell me about your experiences with clans.”
He writes back: “I have been invited to several clans, and gracefully,( I hope,) not accepted. Even though I had initially done almost everything on my own at first, after I started becoming a ‘farm’ I began reaching out to those people who would attack me in earnest. The times I asked for help from a couple clans it was primarily to give help to their lower level members. I was the one with something to give. I find it was helpful, but not as fruitful as I would have thought. Lately, I have been in conversation with a lot of members of two Opposite clans, Peacekeepers, and Chaos. One tries to keep a peaceful way of playing, while the other group seems to go for the maximum damage to anyone they encounter, with a few select groups getting extra attention.”
Another long sheet comes out: “The things that keep me involved via messages with the clans are the people. Not surprising, there are a lot of people who will end up jumping from clan to clan, just because their grating personality is too much for a team game. Conversely, those in clans because of common laudable spirits, are a lot more fun to join in with. I enjoy a good laugh, or quick funny wit as much as the next person, and have had fun with people in all different clans, but part of the reason I have not joined either Guard, Chaos, Zodiac, Pirates, TTB, Legions, PeaceKeepers, or LEROY JENKINS, is that to join one tends to exclude others. I include all when I open my gates by healing. I cannot stop anyone from enjoying the wondrous fruits of
I realize my pockets are getting full from all these paper strips, so I skip a few questions. I write, “Have you ever found yourself unsure about what to do in the game? Have you reached out to others to get advice?”
There’s a pause and then out pops: “I have a quandary at present, in that I have over 27 extra skill points that I still must assign from the last 9 times I leveled up. Sometimes, I have asked friends their advice on this, and have gone with the advice given. They have always been helpful, and if the answers were not in their mindful arsenal, they have shared this with me straightforwardly.”
I quickly write, “Has playing ever become a distraction at work or in your home life?”
The paper that comes out has that pink strip on it now, indicating that its about to run out: “Yes, easily. I get on KL, and chat up a storm with other friends, or sometimes the conversations get so funny, I have woken up my children by roaring out with laughter too loudly. They are the only ones who have asked me, ‘DADDY, why do you play that all the time?’”
I write, “Thank you for your time Ian. One last question: ‘Would you try other similar Storm 8 games?’”
He writes back: “I'm also not aggressive on a few of the other Storm8games. On Mobsters, I'm called ‘Old Fart,” on Racing, where I'm called, ‘Slow Idiot.’ In the pets game, I'm called, ‘DumbGame-KILLme.’ WorldWar is the only game I play semi-seriously, and my name there is," Splat-wonderfly."
A beeping begins to sound loudly in this little room. I squint to read the green screen which says, “I’ve got to go now Candel. Work day is over. Banker’s hours are great aren’t they?”
The door to the small cell pops open with a buzz and I exit. I look up to the town’s clock tower. It reads, 11:30 a.m. I think to myself, “Bankers’ hours indeed. Maybe I’m in the wrong line of business!”
I’d like to thank Ian—or is it Iam?—for his patience in posting his interview. If you are interested in telling your story and letting me use my creativity in writing it up, please contact me through this blog, my email firstname.lastname@example.org, in KL, or in my Palringo group.