February 10, 2010

Make Believe

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 Posted by Mary 4 comments
Have you ever played an MMORPG?

Before 2008, I didn't even know what an MMORPG was. I grew up on the Internet but was never able to explore online gaming. That all changed when an ad for a game caught my eye on one of the websites I was surfing. Maybe I was just bored, but there must have been something appealing about the pictures I saw on the ad because I downloaded the game and signed up. This was in January 2008. Little did I know at that time that for the coming year, I'd get hooked on the game and practically do nothing else during my free time but play. The name of the game was Tales of Pirates.

Tales of Pirates (ToP)  is a 3D game that was developed by a Chinese company and produced by Internet Gaming Gate (IGG). It's the "western" counterpart of the Chinese/Singaporean Pirate King Online; western meaning most people playing are Europeans, Americans, and Latinos. I loved ToP because unlike most other MMORPGs, the fantasy world was bright, the avatars looked like real people, and the costumes were so pretty, I felt like I was playing dress-up with a Barbie doll.

Never having any type of online gaming experience before I played ToP, I was a total noob. The first character I created was a hunter. A hunter's main weapon is a bow, and can become a gun-wielding sharpshooter upon reaching level 40. I messed up the stats of my character at first because I did not know what I was doing, but she eventually became stronger as she leveled up, mainly because of the item mall points I was buying. Yes, I bought quite a lot of item mall points, and even though I regret doing that now, at the time I was playing, it made sense. Four months after I started, Avaya, my character, was able to get into one of the strongest guilds on the server.

Avaya the Sharpshooter
Guild: Smurfs

With a strong guild backing you up, you can do everything in a game. You get to dominate mazes and kill monsters that drop the best loot. Annoyed that sharpshooters died in battles really easily, I rebirthed Avaya into a cleric, with the help of my guild. Clerics are healers and magic dealers whose main weapon is a staff. Although not high-damagers, they are quite strong and are indispensable because they can heal, buff, and revive. Avaya was the first character to rebirth as another class (from sharpshooter to cleric) on the server I was playing at.

Avaya the Rebirthed Cleric
Guild: Phoenix

When you become powerful, however, and stop being a noob, things get complicated. It was awesome to be with the strongest people on my server, but for me, things slowly started to stop being fun, especially since I eventually became a guild leader myself. Everything started to be about responsibility. There were raids to organize, credits to calculate, and disputes to settle. The desire for my guild to succeed against our enemies (another strong guild with rich people who bought tons and tons of mall points to strengthen their characters) haunted me almost all day, even when I wasn't playing. What made it worse was the fact that in an online world, people can do dirty things they might not have the guts to do in real life. The politics was stressful; the deceit of people really disappointing. I soon wanted to no longer have any part of it. In December of 2008, I quit playing.

I realized that if you're playing an online game, it's so easy to believe in an alternate world which soon becomes your reality. It's not like playing Mario where you play against a computer. You interact with real people. Friendships and connections are formed, that's why you have to be careful about how involved you want to be. A lot of the people you meet in these games are just there to advance their character no matter what. These are usually the people I do not like. But in all fairness, I've also met wonderful online friends on ToP who I still remain friends with until now. Talking with one of them caused me to re-download the game client again the other day, just to see what was going on. I was pleasantly surprised with what I was met with. Old friends gave Avaya such a warm welcome, and people who have not met her before but have heard of her gushed about finally being able to meet her. LOL. It was heart-warming.

I will probably not be actively playing again--there are so wonderful things going on in my real life right now that need to be nurtured--but I guess I can still hang out in that alternate universe from time to time, to talk with friends and enjoy its 3D world. And if in any case you find yourself playing Tales of Pirates (not that I'd recommend an MMO to anyone, haha), don't hesitate to look for Avaya in the Coral Isle of Dream Island.

rebirth - a game feature that allows you to change the class and stats of your character; 
available only to level 75 characters and above, after performing a series of arduous quests


  1. God,do I know how you feel Ava,lol...warning tho,from experience-my own as well as other´s-I came to know "hanging out" in ToP ocasionaly is virtualy imposible.Its greatest addiction is being able to wrap you in an endless net of conections,intrigues and so on.ToP´s best quality and biggest flaw at the same time,is being played by real people.And we´re so weak xD

  2. I'll keep the advice in mind, Innu. Thank you. :)

  3. laaaaah i play WoW now ... check it out!

  4. holy crap. i thought u'd never play =/