Medievia Mudslinger

December 4, 2000

Medievian Meditations - By Roirdei

Let's get started with a little mental warm-up, to get our brains into gear (and for a bit of a laugh, too):

Have you ever noticed that the alias for "smiles sweetly" is "SS"?

Why is it that you have to be outside to call a dragon, but that if you go someplace indoors before the dragon lands it has no problem doing so through the roof?

How many times have you said the word "Medievial" in normal Real Life conversation and gotten a wierd look?

Isn't it beautiful that with Up, Down, North, East, South and West you can spell "sundew"?

I'll admit that there are other less beautiful things you can spell, some being downright vulgar, but it would be unethical for me to mention them.

Alright, let's get down to business.

The goal I am setting here is nothing less than to give an answer to the question : "What is Medievia?" Sure, a simple answer would be "It is a MUD", or "It is a text-based online RPG". And often, simple answers are the best. Nonetheless, anyone who has played Medievia for a while can attest that it becomes more than that. Far more. It is this evolution towards something bigger, something greater, that I wish to analyze here.

In our attempt to understand the very essence of the game, I propose that we ask ourselves a succession of questions to reveal little by little the key elements of our world.

I) Why do people play Medievia?

One of the only certain things in Medievia is that there are players, and that these players are as loyal to the game as they can be. Thus, we must strive to understand why we play, what our goals and expectations are, why we always come back for more.

Many have stereotyped the medievian player, creating different "groups" of players such as "killers", "achievers", "explorers", "socials" and such, each with their own goals and expectations. Yet, separating any such group from the lot makes it lose all meaning. Indeed, to kill, one needs a prey, one must achieve compared to the achievements of others, the best part of exploring is telling others about it afterwards, and what would be the use of social relations without diversity? I propose to define the player as a combination of each and every one of these groups, with dominant traits depending on individual personalities, of course. This implies that at some level or another, each player has the same set of goals, and that the only difference lies in the expression of these goals. They might wish to be known as great PKers, they might wish to be known as brave and fearless leaders, they might even wish to be known as everyone's best friend. The key to all this is that whichever means they may use, everybody wishes to be known.

Thus, "medievian" social relationships are at the very heart of why our players play. It seems clear that the next step is to define what a "medievian" social relationship is.

II) What is a "medievian" social relationship?

A "medievian" social relationship is when one player "meets" another, thus initiating some sort of relationship. The Avatar showing the newbie around for the first time is an example of relationship, and so is the Hero cherry-picking the same newbie twenty levels later.

What makes medievian relationships different from those in Real Life? First of all, people met on Medievia are not what they are in Real Life. They are what they want to look like, but more importantly they are how we see them. First impressions are crucial on Medievia, as it is through them that the initial "physical" image of one player is formed in the mind of another, and vice- versa. This image can change through time if the relationship evolves, but even so, the initial image usually sticks. Furthermore, this initial image is greatly influenced by what we shall call the "settings" of the first encounter. If you meet someone in a relaxed setting, if you start chatting in MedLink or in some other non-hostile environment, or if you team up to meet common objectives, the image will be very positive. If you meet the same person in a situation of rivalry (PK, EQ run...), the image created can only be negative.

Each player has an image of his or herself that is ideal, and an image of all other players that depends on the initial impression received, on the circumstances surrounding their initial meeting and on any subsequent shared experiences. A "medievian" social relationship between two players, A and B, is a relationship between four entities : Player A's image of himself and his image of Player B, Player B's image of himself and his image of Player A. One final question lies unanswered : to find out what Medievia is, let's ask ourselves what makes it what it is, whatever it may be.

III) What makes Medievia what it is?

Whatever Medievia may be, it is certain that the key to what it is lies in its players. Yet that is not all. Medievia is about true freedom. In Medievia, players are not what society makes them, they are not what their age, their gender, their academic results, their jobs, their family and their past make them. They are free to be themselves. They are free to be themselves at no forced expense, and are free to give thanks to those who made this freedom possible if that is their wish. As always, freedom for all implies that each individual's freedom must not hinder that of the others, and this is part of the mandate of the Gods of Medievia. They are the ones who create the world, the means by which the players will be able to express themselves.

Medievia is also about equality. Everyone starts as a level 1. In Medievia, you are exactly what you make yourself. Of course, there is always the omnipresent luck factor, the dice roll, the crucial factor of time, but on the whole, you are what you make yourself, what you get out of Medievia is an exact function of what you put in. Medievia has no borders, anyone anywhere can log on and become part of our living, breathing world.

Finally, Medievia is about fraternity, friendship, about being in a group of people that form your clan. These people are always there to chat, to form, to go out and have a blast in the wild world that is yours for the taking. This is the first level of the sense of belonging that surrounds Medievia. The second lies in the fact that every player on Medievia shares, in Real Life, at least some common interests : each has a computer, and at the very least has a passing interest in gaming. By playing Medievia, you feel that you are part of your small group, your clans and friends, but that you are also part of a larger group, the whole of Medievia, a thriving community that is always there for you and which continues to be there even when you are not.

Now, don't go taking anything here as an absolute truth, this is all strictly In My Humble Opinion, it is nothing but the ramblings of a God, and a low-level one at that. I only hope that reading this will have helped you to better understand the phenomenon that is Medievia, so that you can enjoy it fully, taking nothing for granted.

What is it you say? I haven't answered the question? I haven't said what Medievia is? Why, it is whatever you want it to be, my friend, and that is the beautiful part. So get out there, and have a good one.

Fond Regards to one and all,