Got an email in June from Sony informing me that the Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) would be cancelled as of Dec 2011. Oddly enough, I'd just been thinking about the game a day or two before and a blog post I wanted to write about it. Getting that email has pushed me to decide to write the blog post now!
Star Wars Galaxies was my first MMORPG. I've since been in Beta or actually subscribed to a ton of others, but SWG was my first. It spoiled me, as it had a ton of awesome things going for it, despite the fact the actual level structure kept changing at what felt like every other week. Things that endeared me to it were the range of clothes of all colors (I'm not big into dressing up, but doing it for Iwresi was a blast! Moving paper doll!), furniture, houses, and the offering of some skill sets never before (as far as I know) offered to players. So I had my main class, rifleman, and I was also a musician. (Later I did dance too!)
Meet Iwresi - my lovely Bothan female. She rocks! :)
Dancing and playing instrumens had roles in SWG like I've seen nowhere else. You could do it in your group while adventuring to give buffs, or hang around the cantina where you could make a living by getting tips from buffing strangers as they came through. Grouping with other dancers and musicians made it even more fun and strengthened the buffs.
After a while, a lot of people used Macros (Automatic formulas for speech and movements) for their dancers/musicians and weren't even at their keyboards. (I can say with some pride that I was there clicking buttons for all my musician xp until I reached Master!) Bots, as such macroed play is called, were horribly impersonal. So I went out of my way to greet people coming in. (Butchered a lot of names too until I could a way to click on them and a macro pull it for me and add to my typing! Heh heh. Fast/Correct typing is not my forte! You should see me when I'm running and trying to type and steer at the same time. Hah)
You'd not believe the difference it made. I started all sorts of conversations and made me some new friends here and there. Many would choose me for return business, because they knew if I was in the cantina, I really WAS there. :) And even when it didn't start a conversation, it was at least acknowledging another human/non-human being, letting them know they existed and that someone noticed. And they were acknowledgin me and my own existance in return when they greeted me back. I know it doesn't sound like much, but the impact it's made for me when I am acknowledged for something I've said or the fact I showed up in a room is immense. (Especially since I am very much a wallflower. :P)
This same principle very much applies to Social Media. We're typing out into a vacuum, hoping someone will see it, and when we're acknowledged or someone actually cares enough to ask about something we've said, it just gives you a little jolt, confirmation you're not alone and someone out there knows you're there.
These same lessons I've applied while out doing signings or manned tables at conventions. Never underestimate the power of eye to eye contact, especially when accompanied with a smile. People remember people who seem friendly, even if they never spoke a word to one another. But you've shown you're approchable and that you've confirmed their existence.
But the best part? The relatioships that will form in the end. Because you will see some of these people again and again and eventually speaking will happen. And you'll forge relationships and friendships that will last for years or longer.
So thank you Star Wars Galaxies! For the friends you helped me make and the lessons I learned because of you! You will be missed. Huzzah!