Matt remembers the first time encountering me in any fashion, which was a wildly enthused post on the Sara Douglass Bulletin Boards. Sara Douglass was an Australian fantasy author who I loved and I posted on the site telling everyone how excited I was that I’d met her at a book signing. I must have been around fifteen. Apparently after the post, he added me on MSN Messenger or maybe ICQ and we chatted. After chatting about Sara Douglass and fantasy books for a while, I told him about a roleplaying game called Alleria which I’d recently started playing. There was some weird roleplaying fanfiction element on the Sara Douglass BB boards, so it made sense to get him involved. He went over to Alleria, started playing an Elf named Aderyn and now he basically runs the place. Matt told me all this at the cafe in a very definite manner, because as per usual, I can’t remember anything about the past at all. He seems to remember things clearly and with great clarity. He seems to know a lot of secrets. Sometimes he would tell a story, and then look at the recorder and end it with ‘oh, I know some things.’ In vampire terminology, I am Matt’s Allerian sire. I created him, in much the same way I was turned by a super motivated girl on AOL Instant Messenger a year or so earlier. I feel both pride and responsibility about this position. I feel somewhat like God. I am being entirely facetious. I asked Matt a lot of questions about the state of Alleria now – or Aelyria as it’s now known for undefined reasons. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was pushing towards something with my questions – I asked him about how it compared to the game I knew, how it had changed, for the worse or for better. It’s been so long since I’d played that I was clearly trying to find out if the game I played even still existed outside of our shared memory. I also asked him about how it all fit into his life. He had done it all, played a long-running character with a rich and varied history, been all the different forms of Games Master and was now a Director, basically the top job. I’d briefly taken a stint as a Game Master and wrote a very sporadic drunk gay elf named Mesildur who basically crashed parties as a hobby. I asked him how he fit it all in as Director, how he dealt with the stress of all the drama, all the intrigue, how he managed to write so much every day. Had he ever taken time off? Had he ever gotten burnt out? He told me that he found it easy, that it was relaxing, that it was fun. Which, I suppose is exactly the kind of buzzwords you want to hear in relation to a game. Matt ordered a second Chai Latte and I gave a polite yet entirely incoherent homeless man some money, and I realised why I was asking all these questions – I had quitters guilt. Sometime around 2005 I’d left the game, citing other writing priorities, working a bunch of stupid jobs and uni, having RL friends. All things which other players in the game managed to juggle while still playing. It seemed that I subconsciously wanted validation for leaving – I wanted to hear him say that it was a major responsibility, that it took up his entire life, that he’d sacrificed his friends and family and career in his mad quest for internet roleplaying power! But it hadn’t. I am someone who suffers massive FOMO, and I don’t like quitting. I like sticking things out. I’m sad that my connection to this game exists almost entirely in the past, but I suppose that this project is about exploring that? And if all else fails, I can just take credit for everything Matt does because I am his sire and am somewhat like a god I suppose.
This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.