My memory has failed me once again as I stand before a large, ancient wooden door with peeling paint at the top of a rickety staircase. I say to myself, “Ring the bell once. Knock twice. Ring the bell three times. Wait for the organ music and the door will open.”
I was given these very specific instructions in a fish market just downstairs. The goodfellow who gruffly gave them to me was wearing a nice pin-striped covering to his shiny armor. The tough guy appeared to have no neck and he smelled of cigars, gunpowder, and day-old Haddock. Of course the whole market smelled of day-old fish, so maybe it wasn’t the goon’s fault.
The trouble is that I’m not sure if that’s what the goodfellow downstairs said. Was it ring twice, knock twice, ring once? I wish I had written it down. I decide to go with the 1-2-3 option and luckily I hear the organ music and a click.
Another two well-muscled knights greet me. One smiles a toothy grin that shows his gold teeth. Another raises a fist that must be at least a foot wide and motions to follow. We walk down a hallway that is chuck full of intimidating weapons. There must be at least a thousand daggers, short swords, wooden staffs & hatchets, longbows, and broad swords lining the walls. He says with a growl, “Knight Lee will see you now.”
Knight Lee sits behind a large desk made from the finest cedar and cherry woods. On the wall behind him are photographs of his many holdings. He must own at least 12,800 farms and what appears to be 8,000 lumber mills. This man is a saver, I note to myself.
Lee’s eyes are his most surprising feature. They are hidden behind large dark sunglasses. But I can swear I hear a mechanical whisking sound come from behind them. And sometimes I’m sure there is a red light that comes on his eye socket. Kind of like that evil computer named Hal in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’
I smile and settle into a comfy leather chair in front of his desk. He claps his hands and grunts to one of his servant knights. A moment later I’m offered a sweet, warm drink and given the option of a cigar.
Without further ado I ask, “What brought you to KL?”
He clears his throat and takes a swig from his mug: “Well, I used to play RPG games on Facebook, a lot. Then my brother-in-law got an iPhone upgrade so I had his old one off of him.” He cracks his knuckles at this point and smiles. His smile makes me wonder whether the transfer of the iPhone was entirely voluntary from his brother-in-law.
He continues, “And whilst browsing through the app store not long after setting it all up, I came across iMobsters. And then KL came out not long after. So, naturally I downloaded it for extra iMob weapons. That’s right, there were no points back then! I’ve been playing storm8 games since April ‘09. I used to play every day BUT I got far too addicted, so now I play every other day. Out of all the games that I play I’d say KL and iMobsters are equal for me.”
I ask, “When you interact with other players, do you post much on their walls?”
I see a red glint behind his dark glasses. He leans in to say, “Well I used to post daily on peoples walls but as my army got bigger and bigger I found I could no longer do that. I used to say the usual…you know… good morning/afternoon blah, blah. But now I just post on close friends’ walls.”
“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?” I ask.
Knight Lee laughs loudly, “Me and poems do not mix. Now art work I do like. I find it very interesting to see what people make up. I have done a few of my own. However, I’ll confess that I have in the past copied and pasted some art work (tut tut)”
“Knight Lee I first met you as a representative of a clan. I know there’s been a break up and some changes within that clan now. Tell me about this.”
He looks away some and draws deeply on his cigar. As he speaks he begins to blow smoke rings: “When I first started this game I joined a clan yes, and it was…to say the least not organized at all. I felt that I was doing all the work, so one day I woke up and thought to hell with it! I created my own clan called Praetorian Guards. I was not hoping to get help from others when I did it. No, I was offering my help to others. You see, there was one guy in KL whom helped me a hell of a lot. I could not believe how honest and thoughtful he was. So, I wanted to give back what was given to me. Unfortunately though, my real life took a drastic turn. I could no longer be online as much as I wanted to be and I had to do some thinking on what to do about the clan I started. At one point I was going to close it all down. But a player named Boomer—a good pal—came forward and asked me if he could continue as leader of the group. I must say I felt honored that he asked me, and so I let him have it.”
“I know from personal experience that you use Palringo a lot. What’s that like for you?” I query.
“Yes I do. I’ve joined chat groups within Palringo, skype, and yak. My personal identity is no secret. I am who I say I am—there’s no need to lie. I always talk about my family, work, etc. Nothing is off limits to me, although I only speak to very close friends about personal issues, as they are trusted by me.” He looks passed me towards the door with his dark eyes and says, “You know who you are!”
I try not to turn around to look behind me. Instead, I trudge forward with my next question, “Do you have friends in the real world that play KL? What do your KL friendships mean to you?”
“Hmmm. Relationships in KL…well I’ve made lots of friends because of this game. That includes peaceful players. Hell, even farmers I’ve made friends with.” Knight Lee chuckles out loud. “As regards to friends in the real world, no. Although the best man from my wedding has got an iPhone now. So, I’ll get him hooked! I have no enemies, but I am farmed the occasional time or two. But I just ignore it, as it’s just a game after all!”
“Has playing the game ever become a distraction for you Lee?” I ask.
“Well, Yeah! At work not so much because I’m on my own most of the time anyway. But at home…haha!...most definitely the wife hates me playing these games!”
He pauses and reaches behind his desk. He pulls out a short sword and swings it high in the air. He says, “And my friends, yeah they say I need to go get my iPhone removed from my hand at the hospital!” Lee brings the sword to chop down onto some papers on his desk. He begins to laugh deeply and a bit fitfully.
As papers fly high into the air and begin to settle over me, I decide I’m just about done. “So, Lee. I thank you for your time today. One last question…what does the future hold for you in KL and in Storm8 games?”
He never really stops laughing as he says, “In most other storm8 games I just camp and do not touch them. In regards to playing them, I’m in no rush to play because once you are at 200 then you’re stuck there until Storm8 raise the cap level.”
I hear some organ music now. Lee stands and comes around his desk to lead me to his door. He says, “I would just like to say thank you to everyone who I’ve met and spoken to. It’s ‘cos of all of you I play this. You all have different personalities and if we were all the same it would be so boring. Good look to you all and I hope life treats you all well. If you are ever in need of help, look for Lee Tonks, aka Knight Lee.”
I walk from Lee’s room and think about the relationships I’ve made and the one’s I’m making now in KL. Like Lee I’m thankful for the different personalities I’ve met. I hope you, my gentle reader, are getting to know those I interview and that knowing them a bit better is sparking interest in playing KL in some different ways. Frankly, I also hope you are encouraged to keep coming back to read these stories.
If you would like to tell your KL story, please contact me at email@example.com; on my KL profile R2N3SM; in my Palringo room ‘candel’s coterie on kingdoms live’; or through completing my questions in surveymonkey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XWP83FV