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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Online gaming communities exposed

It’s 3:07 a.m. when the phone rings and she’s awaken by an SMS, Europe’s form of text-messaging. Michaela Westlin is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – and yes, that includes holidays – however, it’s no ordinary job that requires her to keep these hours.

“Wake up!” the message reads. “We’re under attack. Wake up your shooters ASAP.” Jumping out of bed she rushes over to the computer, messaging some others from her phone as she gets on-line to plan out defense strategies with her fellow leaders from around the globe.

“What’s our position?” she types quickly.

“They hit us when we were sleeping, we’ve lost most of our higher ranks already,” one of the tops replies back.

“Crap,” she types. “How long until the others get on?”

“Not sure,” he replies. “Hopefully soon. The donna is already dead” “

“No!! Who the hell shot her? I’ll kill the bastard myself!” she blurts back quickly pulling up an Internet browser and typing in some information.

“Ugh, this is just great,” she says with a sigh looking at a grey-green screen with a skull and crossbones on it reading: ‘RIP Someone killed you! The bastard! Click here to find out who did it.’ “I’m already dead!”

Westlin, a 23-year-old gamer from Sweden, known to fellow gamers as Akri, is just one of the many international players of Omerta, www.barafranca.com, a text-based multi-player online role playing game (MMORPG).

“I have played other games online before, but I was moving to a new town where I didn’t know any people,” Westlin explained. “So I was looking for a game that took more planning and involvement. I Googled “mafia game” and here I am one year later drinking coffee at 4:44 in the morning,” she joked.

The complexity of the game also drew Westlin to it in the beginning.

“The best part is actually planning an attack, manipulating the enemy, and then hit hard and fast and succeed still standing,” Westlin said, “It can be to ‘normal people’ slightly frightening, that what I just said actually feels like an accomplishment of importance in those moments.”

A fellow player, Samantha Wilson, a Security Guard from Kansas known as Dancingqueen to many, also started off playing another game, but was drawn to the allure of Omerta.

“I was already on one game site, www.pogo.com, and some people I played with on there were talking about a mafia game called Omerta,” Wilson said. “They said it was fun, but not many girls played. So I checked it out to see what all the fuss was and was hooked almost instantly.”

Due to the nature of the game, Omerta is one of the more demanding games to play. With successful players playing over 10 hours a day, at least, time is important to have a successful account. Players unite to form families, such as Talamasca, Lucchese and Vincitori, and families work together through bloods, allies and alliances in both war and peace.

Unlike console games, most text-based online games work mainly through a chat client, such as IRC, in dealing with politics and strategy within the game rather than hand-eye coordination.

“At first politics fascinated me, all the power, and Akasha [a top player in the game], was the first woman power I met. Seeing how she and Loosecanon [another top player] worked the game was awe inspiring,” Wilson explained.

Omerta is not the only online-gaming community out there. Other text and graphic based games such as Kingdom of Loathing (KOL), Bushtarion, Quake, World of Warcraft (WoW), and Hattrick, are home to thousands of gamers from around the world. With so many games out there, most gamers end up playing more than one game, and within those games a combination of text and graphic games. Dylan Groves, a 19-year-old gamer from Texas, is one of those who interests stretches from graphic based games, to text based. Groves’ first experience in the online gaming world was with a MMORPG called Anarchy Online.

“I started Anarchy when my roommate bought it ” so I created one, well three,” Groves said. “It was the first online game I really played.”

Groves, who typically goes by the name Flip on chat, feels his interest in console gaming originally lead him to the world of Internet gaming.

“I don’t really know why I liked it, but I don’t know why I like most things,” Groves confessed. “Currently I play Bushtarion and KOL, but I also started a game called Chosen Space a few days ago, but you can’t forget the classics like AOE [Age of Empires] and Quake 2 – although I haven’t played either of those in a while.”

It’s not just interest in gaming that draws players to the Internet communities. Sometimes free time at work is all that is needed, as with Michael Quinn, a 27-year-old 911 Telecommunicator in New Jersey.

“I used to play another online game, America’s Army, but I couldn’t play it at work,” Quinn, also known as Reborn, explained. “Someone gave me the link to Omerta, so I gave it a try as it was something I could play during downtime at work. I eventually got sucked in by the wonderful community.”

As with other Omerta gamers, the demand within the game can sometimes be blurred with the demands within real life.

“Sometimes your commitments in real life are minimal for a day or so, but things are heating up ingame,” Quinn describes, “You feel a need to be there rather than going to the store to pick up eggs or something. You wouldn’t want to let the other who depend on you ingame down.”

“It’s all in periods,” Westlin explained. “When you have played really intense for a period of time, then you have the same frustrations and worries about everything here, as you have in real life. Such as relations to the people here, what they demand from you.”

This feeling of loyalty to the online community is what keeps online gamers playing, and in the end it’s the people themselves that keep players coming back for more.

“Playing online games lets me meet a lot of people I wouldn’t know otherwise, people I really care about,” Groves explained. “But you can also meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t want to meet, so it’s just a matter of getting in with the right people in the right places – but the same goes for anywhere else.”

“IRC is the best,” Wilson said without hesitation. “The ability to talk to people from all over the world, learn new languages – and not just the cuss words,” she joked. “I love learning about new cultures through IRC and making great friends you keep forever.”

Not only is it the people, but the way people accept each other, that lets people who might feel outcasted in real life, fit in just fine.

“All the rights and wrongs are good here,” Westlin says. “In here, everyone kind of accepts that everyone else is living out their personalities. A 100 percent madness is only positive.”

Even with the perks of meeting people and feeling accepted, with the demand being so high for the game, Quinn had mixed feelings on whether the game was worth it at the end of the day – even though the people were.

“If the family comes out on top, and they are in good spirits, then it feels worth it ” but no one stays on top forever, so eventually is always ends in heartache,” Quinn said. “The most fun part about Omerta is chatting on IRC about both game related topics and non game related topics ” but if you’re chatting on IRC, and at work with nothing to do ” why not rank a little. You get sucked into making your account the best it can be ” that would explain why I’ve had three Godfather accounts and five Bruglione accounts.” Godfather and Bruglione are the highest ranks you can reach in the game and takes about a month to reach.

Although they may remain unsung heroes within “real life,” within their communities these warriors of the Internet are glorified and celebrated, not only their successes in the game, but also their successes with meeting new friends, and coming away with long lasting friendships.

“The best part about meeting people is that after you get over the whole ‘everyone is fat and psychotic murderers’ issue, then you actually make friends just as any other real life friends,” Westlin laughed. “People that are there for you when shit is hard. People who you even wanna meet and have fun with. You learn that some things aren’t so different in other places, and you learn that some things are more different than you thought.”

FACT BOX

Online Role Playing Games

Omerta: www.barafranca.com

KOL: www.kingdomofloathing.com

Bushtarion: www.bushtarion.com

Hattrick: www.Hattrick.org

Anarchy Online: www.anarchy-online.com

WoW: www.worldofwarcraft.com

Online 1337 (leet) SP33K Code/ IRC talk

1337 = Leet

tbh = To be honest

idd = Indeed

w00t = we own the other team (also used in cases of celebration)

imo = in my opinion

n00b = new player

rofl = rolling on the floor laughing

bmo = bust me out of jail (Omerta)

*name* si teh pwn = *name* is the best.

l2p = learn to play

pwn = to own

** Thanks to Vince from Holland for help defining the terms

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