Ten years. Ten long years, and yet, time seems to have flown by for a large portion of those years. This week in March marks my tenth year since I began playing the game we all know and love, or perhaps loathe, as RuneScape. This game has grown and changed with me. It's weird to think I started up my very first account when I was only nine years old. RuneScape has gotten me through a lot of tough times. It's caused me a lot of tough times too, but my experience has mostly been a good one. It has also taught me a lot about myself, something that I don't think many other games are capable of doing. Consider this piece a personal reflection of my time playing one of the world's largest MMORPGs. It's a bit of a read, but I feel something as big as a game that's been in my life for over half of it deserves nothing less.
It's weird to think that the game we have today used to be the game now known as RuneScape Classic. Everything about it is different. 2D sprites, no real animations, for a long time no sound effects at all, being locked in combat, it's all so different. The game was harder too. There was no experience at all from a monster until it completely died, manually re-clicking the fishing spot or tree (and you often failed to acquire the resource), no running at all... there are lots of things that we have now which didn’t exist at the time. But, was it worse? I won't sit here and pretend my nostalgia glasses aren't at least a little rose-tinted, but honestly, the game I started ten years ago wasn't better than we have, it wasn't worse: it was just different.
No one played RuneScape Classic for the graphics. The GameCube, Xbox, and Playstation 2 were all released around the time RuneScape Classic was released, so it was never about the graphics, more so about the tight-knit community. You'd be surprised that often, when a new player asked for help or free items, people actually obliged. Everything was friendlier, mainly because everything was smaller. All the worlds had their regulars, and you couldn't go five minutes without bumping into someone you knew or knew of. It's how I made some of my first friends.
I was there for the first Holiday drops, the pumpkins, the Christmas crackers, the Easter eggs, everything. Being nine at the time, the idea of random items just appearing on the ground for anyone to take fascinated me. I had stopped playing RS for some months and had come back to find a lot of changes, for example, there were banks (you used to have to carry everything with you, and if you were set to PvP mode, that meant trouble). There was also new armor, either mithril or adamant, of which I believe only the platelegs had come out at the time. My memory is slightly fuzzy.
On my very first account, which wasn't Logdotzip, my bank and inventory was littered with up to 30 crackers, pumpkins, and some odd amount of all the party hats. I came across someone who looked, or typed rather, distraughtly and I found out they had missed all the cracker drops. I gave him two of mine, and we became friends. He used it on me and I received a white party hat. Since then it has always been my favorite color hat. Sad to say I lost the login information to my original account, because wouldn't that be nice to have today, a good 200 billion gold in rares, hehe.
I started up my new account. My friend who I gave the crackers to found me again, gave me a bunch of rares he had purchased cheap from the Party hat dupe glitch, and got me on my feet. Then I fell for the old, ever-so-clever, "Look Jagex blocks your pass see *******" scam. Then I finally made Logdotzip, sometime in late 2002, if I remember correctly. I've had a lot of accounts during my time on RuneScape, so I do my best to try to remember them all. I never thought when I was nine years old I would need to remember all this stuff almost ten years later.
I got my white party hat back (not the original, but I like to forget that it isn't) and was back on track to play some RuneScape. I made friends, did quests (back when they were fun to me, now I can't wait to just click through all the dialogue boxes. [Sorry Dev team!]), and had a good time. I saw the game change as I did, saw various tweaks to the way I played, saw friends come and go, wondered when it would finally be my time to leave. Little did I know, I would still be playing for seven more years and counting.
I stopped playing for a while after my father passed. I had trouble focusing in school and had problems making new friends. I still thought about the game, thought about the people I played with, and wanted to go back, wanted something to fill that empty feeling I had inside for a long time. I guess it was around then that I would consider my love for the game slowly turning into an addiction. It was my reprieve from reality; a place I would run to if my real life was going poorly at the time. No one online knew of my problems, so I wasn't affected by it the moment I decided I wanted to slay some bovine beasts. Yes, cows. I eventually made my consistent return to the game.
I remember being excited and showing my mom the news page when they announced what we came to refer to it as "RuneScape 2", with the 3D graphics and everything. It was such a happy time in my life, and that was the icing on the cake, so to speak. Everything was looking up. I took part in the Beta, I guess it was, and was totally enthralled by it all. When it finally hit, my addiction went overdrive and I couldn't stop playing. I would find myself playing 3 - 5 hours a day, which was a lot for me at the time, often times upsetting my parents and facing threats of them ripping the computer out of the wall. It started affecting my real life. Grades began to slip, family time and relationships were harshly affected, friends drifted, but I didn't seem to care. I just wanted to play RuneScape. I eventually got help for my addiction to the game, and although I play the same amount now as I did then, if not more so, I know my priorities and responsibilities take precedence over this game.
Nothing really exciting happened in the following years, in terms of just me. There was the glitches, the Falador Massacre, the introduction of new skills, but none of it really left lasting marks on me like one event did that still upsets me to this day. I know how stupid I am for doing it, and I can't believe I still did it, but I had a best friend on RuneScape, and for the sake of article and for the fact that he no longer plays, I will omit his username. I had known him over a year and we were almost like brothers. One day he decided to ask me if he could hold all of my rares just for a screenshot for the RS fansite he was a part of. I said yes, and happily handed him my white party hat, multiple Santa hats and mask sets, and various edibles. What I wasn't expecting was for him to say "Gamed sauka" ("Suck" was blocked at the time) and logout.
I quit for a long time. I went to Diablo II. But I still thought about RuneScape. I still had all my items, just none of my rares, none of the sentimental items that were given to me over the time I played. When I came back, most of my friends had quit, or were never on. I felt alone, like I had to start over again. So I did.
This game has changed so much over the years, ten long years, and over half of my life. It's so different to how it was when it began, but so am I. I have been there for almost all of it. I only missed the first couple months of the game’s release, so I can happily say I am one of RuneScape's longest players. I've seen just about everything, been there for the good updates, the fantastic ones, the ones I disagree with, and the downright stupid ones (looking at you, Climbing Boots!). Sometimes I lose faith in Jagex and what they think they know is best for their players and customers, but hey, I figure, if they have managed to keep this game afloat and active for over a decade, they can't be doing too poorly.
What I like most about this game is it has something for everyone. You can fight, you can skill, you can go for rank, you can make money, you can make and chat with friends, play minigames, pretty much anything you like. Hell, you can even gamble now, with the Flower Game and Dice Game. The emergent gameplay found in RuneScape is nothing to scoff at. What I will take away with me when I finally quit RuneScape, or when it finally dies, isn't the items, the levels, the updates, anything like that. It's the friends I've made, and the experiences I've had. A lot of people tell me I've wasted my time playing this game as long as I have. I've spent over 2/3rds of a year in game out of the ten I've played. Wasted time, though? No. I will never regret playing this game and learning as much as I have about myself. So hats off to you Jagex. Thanks for everything, and here's to the next ten years.