Back in the olden days, before Avatar was called Avatar, my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students rushed home from school each day to play a text-based game that involved creating characters and slaying all manner of ordinary and extraordinary beings. They spent all their free time bunched up in the corner plotting and planning the afternoon's campaign. "I'll enchant your scalpel," they whispered. "I'll trade you a cool sword for a silver bracer and one of those 'rings of holding' and we'll try to find Werith's Wayhouse." They had heated discussions of armor class and alignment, talked of mana, and hp, and passed around walking directions. I once confiscated a note being passed in class that said "4e 5s 16w".
Gradually I became aware that this was an *internet* game that involved interacting with strangers, many of them adult, all over the world and I became concerned. It was just the beginning of easy home access to the internet and I was worried about what they might be getting into, so I began to ask a few questions. They were delighted to talk about it, and soon invited me to join them online, so one fateful day *I* rushed home to log in with one of Tarzan's extra characters; the password was "murder", I should have known!
My first experience was awful: I didn't know what to do, it was a period of frozen screens and then text flying by so fast that even I could not read it. Moreover, I was on telnet and could not see what I typed except as individual letters affixed to the ends of random lines of other people's type. I thought it was a practical joke, but Tarzan, a fourth grader, and Apeman, his older brother, assured me that it was not. They encouraged me to try again, and soon I made a character (Darii, a name generated by my daughter with D & D dice),
and played with them. They were experts and I was a hapless newbie, which they loved. They lured me to the arena and attacked. They grouped me, and got me killed constantly, by randomly attacking anything in our paths, but they did have the grace to help me recover my gear most of the time. I wasn't a great player, but I had more than twenty students playing at that time and I was concerned about their safety; that made it important that I be there.
One fateful day I arrived home late to find three dozen urgent
emails alerting me to a disaster: one of my students had used bad words on channels and our entire isp, the only one in a thirty-mile radius, had been *banned*! They were distraught and ready to backstab their own classmate, who had sent me ten remorseful emails confessing his transgression.
Fortunately I had a daughter, home from college, who helped me telnet through her account to intercede. I was still quite a newbie at this time, with rusty typing skills and no knowledge of channels, so I stood in the old Aelmon, saying, "I think I need to see an immortal." At some point DaWiz saw me, talked to me, and transferred me to Snikt. I hadn't typed since college, almost 30 years ago, and Snikt was so impatient with my slow typing (he wasn't patient in his younger days, either!) that he called me on the phone. He was stunned to know that a PRINCIPAL was playing on his mud, intrigued by the fact that I had so many proficient players who were so young, and that I had willingly followed them there.
Thus began a wonderful friendship, and my custodial care of younger players on Avatar. I've been here ever since, although most of my students are long gone.
Naively, I had no idea that Snikt had his eye on me as a potential Immortal from the beginning: I was 50, female, and *not* a gamer in any sense of the word. I did understand that he'd performed some magic to allow me to log in after school, even when the game was "full". (It was a time when we had a daytime player limit, and I could never get home as quickly as the hordes of students who rushed home to log on.) One day I mentioned that I was now useless as a
guardian to them because I couldn't connect until they'd logged off to do homework; he typed a few magic letters and, behold!, I was never locked out again.
When I became an Immortal, my life actually changed very little. I did the same things I'd been doing for a year, standing in the meadow, just a few steps away from Nom. When I finally got an office, it was in the Tree of Knowledge, and was an exact description of my rl kitchen, including my faithful dog, Max. I have not become a computer whiz, I don't code or write areas, although I did write Mudschool. My job is to deal with the interpersonal parts of Avatar, watching
over young players, trying to keep language and manners civil and appropriate in public places, and protecting those who need protecting. I sometimes function as a mediator, and often have to use patience to deal with sticky situations. In addition, I do some education-related things, work with the Immortal staff, and act as an advisor to Snikt.
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