*Grabs boomer juice* [coffee because I’m not paying $3 for a can of Monster in Venezuela]


Ahh, MMOs man… they don’t make them like they used to…

Gamers come in all shapes and sizes, from the zoom zoom Fornite kids, sweaty fightmans, tryhard shootans to — may God forgive me for saying this — MOBA players…

I myself am a man of varied tastes, and I’m always willing to go out of my comfort zone and try new types of video games. I do have a rather defined list of video game genres that I greatly like above the rest, such as action and RPGs — that said, MMO games, one of my fortes, is one defining genre that has been a significant part of my atypical life.

Back in the mid 1990s, long before these convoluted days we presently find ourselves into, and before I had even used the internet for the first time, I read on a magazine about this revolutionary concept — that soon, in a near future, video game consoles would be able to connect to the world wide web through your phone outlet.

This — paraphrasing what I remember from that article — meant that, among other things, you could be able to play with other people from all corners of the world, all the way up to Japan even.

As a ~9 year old kid at the time, it was such a bewilderingly amazing concept to me. A couple months later I would receive my father’s old computer (I kept its Pentium 1 processor as a memento), and some time afterwards, my mother and I would use the internet for the first time through these prepaid cards that a long defunct ISP used to sell. While I did play a few PC games here and there, I was still a console baby first and foremost.

My atypical life followed its convoluted course, and then, some years later, I was doing what I had read on those magazine pages: I was playing games online with other people from across the world.

I’ve never been ashamed to say that I am and always have been a very socially inept man, and all the family woes, moving to Caracas in 1999, and all the constant moving and switching to new schools from 6th grade onwards made it all the worse — yet, MMOs, in a way, helped me overcome some of those social deficiencies, and allowed me to, at times, not feel alone and out of place like I used to feel every day at school.

I’m not really good at shooting games, as not only am I left handed, but I lack the hand-eye coordination to git gud at them with a mouse or even controller — however, when it comes to the MMOs and the mechanical, rhythm-esque numerical rock/paper/scissors nature of combat, that’s something I’m very good at.

The genre allowed me to work as a team with strangers and friends alike to overcome each game’s challenges, and to defeat other teams in player vs player combat, both things that I greatly enjoyed all these years. Crunching numbers, min-maxing gear, and customizing a character (looking good is a damage bonus, many do not know this) are the icing on the cake.

But I wasn’t “good” at MMOs from the get go, and it took quite a while before I got the genre’s core hang of things, and a journey across different games before everything began to innately click on me.

The first actual MMO that I played was a pirate copy of Phantasy Star Online on Dreamcast in 2001. I do not consider it my first MMO “experience” though, as due to it being a pirate copy meant that I could not play online, so, for me, it was an entirely single player run.

In December 2002, right as the country was going through a general strike against the ruling regime, my mom bought me a legitimate copy of Phantasy Star Online for Gamecube. While I could not play this copy online either (no Gamecube modem + the draconian currency control system implemented in January 2003 that prevented many from doing online payments) I was able to co-op with a cousin — and I suppose, PSO Episode II served as my first MMO expansion experience.

Good times

A few months later I stumbled upon Jedi Knight II, my first actual online game. The community-driven clan system rules that spread across the game did served as a proto-MMO community experience for me, as it was very common to simply “chill” and chat with your clanmates, do organized pvp duels, and other activities that were not part of the “intended” Free-For-All deathmatch framework.

Those were amazing days that I cherish fondly, just thinking about them fills me with overwhelming longing. It has been 20 whole years, and I still maintain friendships and keep in contact with a few lads from those days.

Jedi Outcast, or rather, some of my senior clanmates’ antics, would come to pave the way for my first actual MMO, where the things that I had read as a kid in that magazine were the norm: a Ragnarok Online private server.

While it was not the official subscription-based international server, the one that I played at ran on the leaked Aegis software (the real deal) rather than running on a server emulator, so it was as close as I could get to the actual thing without having to pay (not like I could pay anyways).

This was it, my actual MMO ground zero, where I went from an unapologetic noob to a pro. My first RO character, a knight, began with this atrocious build and utterly garbage gear — a few months later and “Kaleb” was at the top of the food chain in the server’s designated open PvP area.

The “you will be able to seamlessly play with people from all across the world” words my infant self had read had come to proper realization here. The server that I played, while not being one of the largest or more famous among the private server community, had a fairly decent sized community that ranged from all shapes, sizes, and timezones.

The game allowed me to play, chat, and interact with people from Canada, America, Brazil, Europe, Asia, and Australia as if it was nothing. Being a “weeb” game, RO was certainly a magnet for otakus, anime fans, and enthusiasts of all things Japan/Korea, this was great for me, as I did not had anyone to talk to in real life about anime and other niche “nerd” things frowned upon by the normie Venezuelan culture of that time — I felt like I fit in, unlike high school.


My journey through both Jedi Outcast and Ragnarok Online, the core fundamentals of my online gaming career, were among the first things I wrote on this website. I should definitely revisit those posts and polish them now that I have some more experience at this whole writing thing, lol.

It goes without saying that eventually World of Warcraft became a huge part of my life (I mean, the WoW gold > Bolivar thing unleashed a series of events that, among other things, led to the creation of this website in the first place), but before I played WoW there was a bit of a lull period where I drifted away from RO and into other games, such as Lineage II and Silkroad, none of which really clicked on me.

I did not have money for Guild Wars, but I was able to play it for a while thanks to an RO guildmate that let me use her account. It was a great game, but one that I could not get. I missed some great MMO moments such as Star Wars Galaxies, as I did not have the financial resources to spend on such things.

And then, one day, I bought a World of Warcraft cd key and some gametime cards through a local online seller, and then began a multi-year journey…

There was a time when I was a peak hardcore raider in WoW, I would even stay up late to raid Karazhan with friends, sleep for two hours or so, and then wake up to go to college, that is not something I cannot do anymore, now that I’m older and with actual responsibilities — but man, was it great? Yeah.

Between 2010 and 2016 I was very much just a casual WoW player, then I slowly went back to raiding and whatnot — but then, by 2017, my main goal was no longer to be a bleeding edge raider, but to farm gold and sell carries.

The collapse of Venezuela, and my personal circumstances at the time turned my main form of escapism into a significant way of sustenance. The fact that me selling a couple carries would get me more money than what a doctor of the caliber of my mom was able to make in Venezuela at the time was really messed up, yes, but I had to do what I had to do to help. I was good at MMOs, and there was a very much terms-of-service-breaking way to get easy money, so, yeah.

I steered off from that path as I was given some newfound freelance work opportunities that came at the right time, as WoW began its continued decline until I eventually stopped playing it altogether.

There were also some lull periods in between my long WoW journey where I tried out other MMO games, such as The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, and Aion, to name a few — but, just when I thought I was out, WoW would pull me back in.

I would eventually arrive in the third major (and perhaps final) destination of my MMO career: Final Fantasy XIV, some years after its launch, but before the big wage of “WoW refugees” made their way into the game.

I would say that, for me, FFXIV feels like a balance of Ragnarok Online and WoW, and coupled with the fact that I am a fan of the Final Fantasy series, it really clicked on me from day one.

I got my “weeb” aesthetic, a somewhat sense of community like RO (but not quite), a banger OST, and I got my sweaty tryhard raiding fix too. It is not a coincidence that my FFXIV character looks very similar to my first RO character — he is meant to be a full circle homage to my first MMO character, down to the name.

That, I can’t deny.

I have barely played MMOs for almost two years now beyond sporadic moments, as I’ve found myself busy setting up in motion plans towards a new life, where I can finally fulfill the promises I made, and perhaps find my own happiness at last in whatever time I have left in this world.

But I do miss raiding, I miss staying up past midnight banging my head against a boss with a group of friends. I miss the bleeding edge content, preparing for it, assembling the best possible combination of stats and items, optimizing my character, and all that.

Perhaps in the near future I’ll get to do high end content again, perhaps not, only time will tell.

There is a lot that I was able to learn through MMOs, not just a better grasp of English through osmosis, but other things as well. I learned about the customs and culture of other countries, a bit of their respective languages here and there, new anime shows that I would otherwise have not heard of, ancillary computer tech knowledge, and most importantly, how to feel like one is actually part of a group and not an odd piece out that doesn’t quite fit anywhere — a continued struggle for me, I’m not ashamed to say.

The genre is not what I used to be, that is for certain, and MMOs are in a dire need to reinvent themselves — a renaissance of some sorts — as it has become significantly stagnant and devoid of new good options these days.

Who knows, maybe the future will bring a new banger MMO, but I don’t have my hopes up right now.

Until the next one,


Categories: Video Games