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Archive for the ‘May 2013’ Category

Several years ago I was addicted to online gaming, in particular Ragnarok Online, PristonTale, and FlyFF. But then one came along that would blow my socks off. No, it wasn’t the all consuming and powerful World of Warcraft, it was a beast of a completely different nature. By tugging on my childhood heartstrings, by going back to my best loved film trilogy, Lord of the Rings Online exploded onto my screen. Like a bad romance, I knew it would be doomed from the start. The only problem is I didn’t want to ever believe it would get as bad as it did.

The honeymoon period was incredible. My favourite go-to race, Elves, were present, but with more customisation than I thought would be possible. Elf? From Rivendell or Lorien? Oh back up there, pointy ears, you can choose from four origins. No two characters would ever be the exact same, and I relished in this. My most beloved character was Kisa, a lore-master, human. With short hair, freckles, little flicked up nose, and a huge bear at her side, she was the absolute bee’s knees in my eyes. Kisa trained to be a Scholar; a crafting vocation where you find broken pots, pitchers, urns, and collect ancient texts, tablets, then transform the knowledge into battle scrolls, or other useful buffs, dyes and paints. I was addicted. I remember shouting to my boyfriend at the time, ‘I can’t do that right now, I’m hunting for pot!’ I dread to think what the neighbours thought.

But years went by and I lost my touch with LotRO. I forgot about Kisa, the bear, the pot. My addiction had subsided and I had moved on to a different game. It wasn’t until six months ago I returned to the land of the free. And that is exactly why I didn’t want to go back; it had become free-to-play. If you have played online games, you’ll understand why I didn’t want to go to a dumbed down version of a once beloved game. My memories of the game, if I go back would it be as good? I was to find out.

I missed migration. I completely missed the opportunity to save my account. I tried signing in, but nothing happened. Once I got in to contact with Turbine, I realised it wasn’t there any more. Kisa, the bear, gone. My gold, my items, everything, lost forever. Well, there was only one thing left to do! Start again! I don’t mind doing that since I was so in love with the game. But I underestimated just how much it had changed from vanilla to free-to-play. I’m sure it’s just a few tweaks. I was oh so wrong.

It was like stepping out of a bubble onto an alien planet you once belonged to in a past life. There was something familiar about the place but everything was wrong. Very wrong. I convinced myself to pay for one month, this month, to see if I can rekindle my love for the game. Creating my character, another lore-master, took mere minutes. I knew what I wanted, I knew where I wanted her to go, and how to play. And yes, I wanted her to be a Scholar. It started out fine, I remembered what the keys did like it was only yesterday I had stopped. I played for two days straight. It wasn’t until the second day I stumbled back upon the housing market. Yes, in the game you can own your very own house. I decided to scope out a little village to see what the houses were like. Sure I couldn’t afford any, but it’s window shopping. I have never been so depressed while window shopping.

The houses were empty, cold shells of their former glory. Banners of battles won waved in the gardens of homes of other players. But you couldn’t gain access. The most common reason? Players didn’t pay upkeep on their homes any more. How do you pay upkeep? By playing. House after house, none of them let me look around. I walked around this ghost town, thinking it was the only village to be like this. I was wrong. Village after village, house after house, it dawned on me; I’m the only one here. I began to panic, what about my crafting?

I only craft to make insane amounts of money to fund my expeditions to farm for extremely rare loot (I’m the biggest treasure hunter ever). I checked my mail box and sure enough; full. Not full of money, full of the ingredients I had put up for sale. None of it sold. I was truly alone.

I remember the early days when a great number of people played, when the Shire was full of dwarves, men, elves, all helping each other, going off on adventures, banding together in fellowships. There was a soul to Bree, where people with flutes, lutes, clarinets and drums would come together and play their music, turning modern classics into acoustic gems. None of it remained. As I walk the roads of Middle Earth, I feel alone. Not even killing goblins lifts my spirits. One month is all I’ll need. One month is all I can take, before the four walls close in on me and I start talking to my shadow for lack of online contact.

Whatever happened to LotRO? Whatever happened to the merry players? Is it just my server? Or have the black gates finally closed on this once loved mmorpg?

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Personally, I have always found the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ one of the most difficult questions to answer. My passions and interests vary. Like blowing bubbles, I have so many different ideas of what I’d like to do with my time that I simply cannot focus on one alone. I have heard that not knowing at all is worse, I feel like I am no better off than someone who has absolutely no clue; after all, how different are we really?

Growing up I was taken with Ancient Egypt. The myths, the gods, the stories, the magic. All wonderfully intoxicating for a young girl with a vivid imagination. I took to the PC game Pharaoh like a duck to water, having my favourite goddess; Bast, goddess of the home and fertility. But after a long while, I lost the drive for it. Where can I really go in terms of a career? I’d be stuck in a museum for the rest of my life, almost as if becoming wooden and part of the sculptures there. That wasn’t for me. After a lot of um-ing and ah-ing, I gave up pursuing a career properly in any field.

There are several reasons to this. Firstly, I have never done things by the book. If there was a way to make it hard for myself, I’d take the more complicated route (more on this later). Secondly, I watched my dad progress all my life. His career was huge. He worked his way up from the very bottom to the very top. But he travelled a lot, missed a couple birthdays and Christmases. That, of course, is no excuse for me to disregard a successful career (especially since I am in no hurry to start a family myself), but it is a reason. Lastly, I have never been able to pin point exactly what I wanted to do. My strengths lie in talking to people, engaging with their interests, and of course  retail fits that description down to a tee. Do I enjoy it? I have a great little part time job with Osprey London at the moment. Yes, I enjoy this job, but not retail overall.

But I must have some inclination of what I want to do with my life… right? For now, yes. Roughly eight years ago, my family and I went on our last big holiday before my brother went to University. Here, we were introduced to an activity my dad had loved for years; Scuba-diving. I was quite anxious, all that gear looked very intimidating and let’s not forget I am a rather petite girl, even now. My brother and I were to go through our PADI Discover scuba-diving lesson, my first real taste of what my dad was always so passionate about. I had done snorkelling and indeed found it incredibly fun (though I always get water in my snorkel!). The experience of scuba diving was immense. With all the gear on, I was lowered into the water. The diving instructor took the top of my BCD and said we’d just go for a snorkel like paddle around the lake. Only one slight problem; I was enjoying myself way too much. I began kicking down, following this curious little fish I had never seen before, under the decking where the rest of my family were waiting. I swam what I believed to be at a slow and steady pace. I kept feeling little sharp pulls at the BCD but didn’t think much of it. I don’t remember stopping the session, but I do remember how the instructor laughed, along with my family. Apparently I was so entranced by the new world I had been introduced to, that the poor instructor, who had no BCD on of his own as he was only holding the top of mine, was trying desperately to keep his head above water as I swam happily along. And fast.


I always pictured it to be something like that!

Unfortunately for me, I was unable to progress to my PADI Open Water as my ears wouldn’t pop on the day. Despite that being the only time I had ever experienced scuba-diving, it has been one of the most vivid memories of mine to date. I never thought about it as a career, and truly I couldn’t do something like that 24/7… surely. I continued my education, and thought I could pursue a career in writing, in particular script writing. I found it came very naturally to me, and my confidence grew. But in the background, something was lingering that I couldn’t quite place my finger on. Then the BBC released the incredible documentary series the Blue Planet. Underwater videography. Of course! It all fell into place! I caught myself saying, ‘Even if the shot is only three seconds long, I would love to one day be able to be part of something like this and say with pride ‘I shot that!” But I was studying BA Creative Writing. Sure I studied Media Studies at A Level, but not Biology.

And that is why, after much soul searching, I am going to attempt to make a difference. I’m taking my education into my own hands. Currently I am enquiring at colleges all over the UK about a foundation course in Marine Ecology and Conservation. I don’t just want to dive, I want to make a difference. Even if all I do is raise awareness for a small ecosystem, even if I cut the netting and free a turtle or seal, even if all I do is help grow coral, I’ll have made a difference to one life on this planet. To collect data, to research the affects of global warming, over-fishing, and to dive at the same time, it would truly be the most fantastic thing I can think of doing with my life.

Sure I studied the wrong subjects, sure I went to uni and studied the wrong degree, but like I said before, I never make it easy for myself. I may be turning 25 and have no proper career to my name yet, but it is never too late to change your stripes, to change your luck, to take control and show those who may say ‘You’ll never get a career out of that!’ that yes, yes I can. I’ll show you, but most importantly I’ll show myself.

If you can’t think of anything you want to do with your life, don’t worry. There are people who live their whole lives not knowing what to do, but the most important thing is that you are happy. Yes I work part time, but I work with some of the best people I have ever met. Yes, I made bad decisions in my past, but that’s not where I am living; I live in the now, thinking of the future, changing the stars so I can have the future I deserve.

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Where Have I Been?

I’ve been out of writing action for almost four whole months! Shockingly bad of me, but what can I say? Life got in the way.

I started a new job, got a new place with my partner, and am looking into going back to education. I’m celebrating my 25th birthday on May 16th, and having a full week off to relax and unwind. I’ve barely had time for tea! I know, it’s totally shocking.

I will be keeping this blog post very short, just as more of an update than anything with content. But please bear with me as I have lots to discuss, include a radical career change I have been wanting to do since I family holiday that changed my life.

In the meantime, thanks for reading, and let’s have tea together soon.

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