Back in 2009, I made a decision to purchase a game call Lord of the Rings Online. It is a massive multiplayer online (or MMO) game that lets you play in Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. Being a pretty big Lord of the Rings fan, it sounded like the right fit for me.

Over the years, I had dabbled in playing PC games, such as The Sims and Hollywood Studio, but never played anything that required as much skill as this game. My confidence was very low, but I figured I’d give it a shot. It took me a good couple weeks to even be able to figure out the basics of how to play the game. Never knew that you had to equip armor, select skills or upgrade your weapon.

One day I was taking a stroll through Chetwood when a message popped up on my screen asking if I wanted to join a kin. I had no idea what a kin was, but clicked yes anyways. Then I realized that it was a group of people that played the game together and socialized. Fear started cruising through my veins.  I would have to socialize with people in a game; the place where I tried to relax.

Ealsweettartwen in LOTRO by Standing Stone Games

Staring at the screen, I would see people chatting and having fun, but I was too terrified to even say hello. You would think that in a world where no one could see you, that it would be easier to communicate with other humans. Somehow, it felt exactly the same as trying to talk to them in real life. It’s great to also be terrified in the virtual world.

Mustering every ounce of courage that I could, I finally wrote two letter, “hi.” Feeling my heart thumping in my ears, I held my breath waiting for someone to respond. No one did. Then the feeling of dejection took hold. It was the same pattern of being ignored that I always got from other people in the real world. I felt worthless, and did not speak again until a few weeks later.

Then something strange happened. Minding my own business, someone sent me a private message asking if I would go on a group instance with them. First thought was “What’s an instance?” In case you were wondering too, a group instance is a special quest that calls for multiple people to complete it. Each one of those people having a special skill that they bring that allows for the mission to be accomplished.

Being a fan of wizards and magic (and yes I know there is no magic in Middle Earth), I decided to play a character that was a Lore Master. My jobs included crowd control, DPS, healing, and buffs. Did I know how to use all those skills? No. I just hit buttons and went with what happened. Again, I was pretty new to this world. Slowly, I started to go on more and more adventures with my new found group. Still did not talk much, but at least I felt like I was being included.

As I logged in one day, I finally realized that I was Ealsweettartwen, Lore Master of the Knights of Destiny. This would not be the final group that I would end up with, but it would become the start of my journey into gaming and all the great things that come with this community.

Jenn

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