Attack! I yelled as we were thrust yet again into another battle against the dreaded Kolbolds. With a moment of pause at hand, we took a rest at the shrine to heal and replenish our war torn bodies. It was then when I began to learn a little bit more about the human paladin whom I had met a mere hour ago, and completed nearly all my quests within the beginning sequence of Dungeons and Dragons Online.
This Paladin, or Pally, was a very interesting and unique player who I got to know better through running several other dungeons/instances and interviewing him while we played. The Pally is from Cairns, Australia located in the state of Queensland; a coastal city on the North East side of the continent bordering the Great Barrier Reef. He is in high school an upperclassman, and is currently in the fourth term of this school year, which began on October 5, and ends December 11. Upon discovering the nationality of my interviewee I immediately began discussing my experiences with soccer or football for the Aussies. For him, football is a national pastime and nothing would be greater for him or his country if Australia could make it to the world cup finals. I discussed several other leagues I knew in Europe and we named key star players sharing stories from games we had seen, or played. He was surprised that an American knew so much about international soccer, although I do admit that my knowledge of Australian soccer players was a bit lacking. He told me that his favorite player on the current Australian National team was Tim Cahill who also plays for the English club Everton. Along with football he enjoys other sports such as Rugby, but enjoys soccer more because he plays on a competitive team. Undoubtedly other interests of his include several popular video and computer game titles. We discussed our shared experience on WOW or World of Warcraft and the differences between the two games. In his opinion, while Dungeon and Dragons is a raw instance and quest game, WOW allows for more exploration with a more engaging game engine allowing for easier game play. He discussed however some of the other perks in DOD such as multi-classing and the online Store in which you can buy gear or experience to boost your character outside of game play. Personally, we disagreed on the aspect of store points but were able to see why both systems can be helpful. He had also played other Massively Multiplayer Online games such as Warhammer and Star Wars the Old Republic.
Being from the city of Cairns and right next to one of the greatest natural wonders of the world much of Pally’s time is not spent on the computer but rather in the ocean. He enjoys going to the beach, and hanging out with friends just like any other teenager searching for his niche in the world. He told me of the beautiful water and reefs he has been around all his life. I asked him why he had been on so recently if he did spend much of his time at the beach, and he explained the current situation. He warned me that if I was to ever travel to Cairns and swim at this time of the year it could be deadly. From October till May box jellyfish migrate through the city’s coastal waters. He told me that the potency of one jellyfish’s sting contains enough poison to kill three adults. Certainly something to keep in mind and a very hand tip! He expressed to me his taste in music and told me about QMusic a company dedicated to providing Queensland with events and concerts that promote Australian artists.
From here I tried to redirect his attention to issues of more political and socioeconomic relevance, and ask questions regarding Australia’s outlook towards the online gaming community. Overall, he told me that the freedom of speech and thriving economy of Australia allows for the online gaming community to slowly grow with new and exciting games as it does in America. He explained from his knowledge no laws or regulations are placed against the internet, or games allowed to be played by Australian citizens. However, upon further research it seems there has been legislation and growing support for internet censorship within the Australian government. When I asked him if he regularly played in internet ‘cafes’ or similar venues he said not normally but enjoys playing online with friends that he has in real life. Similar to many players he began playing at first with friends in his home town and then expanded on his own to other games and genres. The first MMORPG he can remember playing, or of the sort is an older Java game called RuneScape. This game was free as DDO is, and it allowed him to communicate, compete, and have fun with his friends after school.
He had many motivations to play but clearly the catalyst was his first introduction into RuneScape. This free-to-play game allowed him to understand and uncover the world of MMO’s and basic ranking systems. This allowed for an easy switch for him when introduced to new versions of MMO’s and eventually the WOW engine. The main reason for his switch to DDO was the simple fact that he was ‘burnt out.’ The same repetitive actions, and similar questing bored him, and he needed a change in game. He had heard of DDO and made the switch. His friends and he soon became very intrigued in the multiclass system and idea of being the first wave of characters to reach the maximum level cap of 20. This of course did not deter him from experimenting with other characters, or alternates to his main, in which I met him in the beginning city of Korthos Island. He is in a very active guild on a different server, but enjoys the escape of leaving his guild mates and soloing or meeting random people to group up with. When I asked him how often he played weekly he described to me the situation of a struggling high school student having to cut back on play time to catch up on school work and the constant internal battle of whether to study for an hour or go on a raid. He did enunciate as he has gotten older his game play time has been cut back, due to other extracurricular activities. This finding is particularly interesting as it goes against the results shown in “Who plays, how much, and why?” which states that older players are playing at higher rates than younger people who are “thought to have more free time.” This particular case may be a bit skewed, from my own personal experience the pre-college work at the end of my high school career took away a lot of ‘free’ time.
When I further endeavored into the idea of transnational play and the fact that we both were from different countries he seemed somewhat unsure of what I meant. He told me since he was little and his first days on RuneScape he remembers playing with Dutch, Russian, and other foreign players, whom were all for the most part very helpful. It seems that he has been immersed into transnational play since he was young, and enjoys the idea of others from across the globe interacting and communicating with one another to benefit each other. I asked him had he ever encountered any rude or offensive behavior from foreign players and his reply was “Yes of course I have! But the truth of the matter was that it has nothing to do with where the person was from, because no matter what their will always be ---holes trying to ruin your day.” He further explained how several of his better friends online and in his guild are players from other countries. He told me that without several of them key facets of his guild wouldn’t work or even function. There is one issue in which he thought would be hard to factor and that was communication between players speaking different languages. He noticed that for several games he was locked into English speaking only servers; however, in other games such as RuneScape, he could enter into a Dutch, or Aussie world and expect any player to speak a multitude of languages. Many players on the Aussie world would speak Dutch to him and he was unable to understand them. This communication gap is a valid problem and should be addressed as games begin to incorporate a plethora of languages across the globe.
This is a screenshot of the final quest we played together in front of the Lighthouse in Stormreach Harbor. This is my rouge dwarf Kiefing Ghost on the Khyber server. I couldn’t figure out how to turn of the HUD.
 Queensland Government Education Department’s Website, The State of Queensland (Department of Education and Training) Copyright 2000; Date accessed: October 31, 2009
 Queensland Music Network Incorporated, 2008, Site created by Tim Nilsen Graphic Design; Date accessed: October 31, 2009
 Electronic Frontier Australia, a group promoting free speech online, 2009, website explains legislation regarding censorship in Australia; Date Accessed: October 31, 2009
 RuneScape – MMORPG, Jagex Ltd. Copyright 1999-2009, created by Andrew and Paul Gower; Date accessed: October 31, 2009
 RuneScape list of skills taken from RuneScape Tips Website, Copyright 1999-2009; Date accessed: October 31, 2009
 Who Plays How Much and Why? Caplan, Scott; Williams, Dmitri; Yee, Nick: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication; Date accessed: October 31, 2009