Let’s take a trip back to 1998 and 12-year-old me, a girl whose room was adorned in ‘Nsync posters from Tiger Beat, beanie babies, and printed Star Wars photos. My mother used to tell me I’d make a great lawyer because I could spin a pretty persuasive argument, but I chose to instead put those skills to use in AOL chatrooms. That sounds really creepy, right? I would spend hours with people writing out blocks and blocks of text, describing my character’s feelings, dialogue, and the environment around us.
I still remember my first major character – Aurelie Renault. She was a courtesan at the Moulin Rouge, madly in love with Christian, who was a total dick, by the way. We created GeoCities sites (OH YEAH!) for our characters and it was a really involved storyline. There was nothing creepy or 18+ about it; it was just pure writing. A group of five of us strangers came together and created a story where everyone could play a part in figuring out the main plot and how things ended up. I played in all kinds of games, including Phantom of the Opera to Braveheart to Star Wars. Damn, I miss those days! And much like intense storytelling over long periods of time, you became invested in the story. Instead of having a bossy DM or feeling frustrated that you weren’t able to creatively steer the adventure, it became a truly collaborative effort where everyone’s input enriched the game experience.
But as gaming evolved and my tastes revolved more around shooting bad guys in Goldeneye, I got away from storytelling. The chatrooms disappeared after becoming unsafe from random penis pictures, and I haven’t found anything quite like it since then.