“Virtual reality” is one of those phrases that means different things to different people. For me, it is a reality removed from real-life interactions and identities. Despite this remove, some of my closest friends are people I knew online first. Being a part of virtual communities has changed my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
BBSes & DDials
MUDs, MUCKs, & MUSHes
In 1992, I had discovered how to use the research terminals in the library at University of Illinois at Chicago to check my email. (The irony this created for my later profession as She Who Busts Sophomore Miscreants Who Insist On Using the Library Reference Terminals to Check Gmail is not lost on me.)
I had also, for some reason, learned how to “finger” a remote machine to see who was logged in, and to “talk” someone on that machine, the precursor to instant messaging. One day I was bored and fingering a machine in Colorado, looking for a friend of mine, and he wasn’t logged in but someone else was. I decided to send that person a talk-request.
That person was Merlin. Merlin, being interrupted by a total (albeit charming) stranger, was very eager to turn my focus elsewhere, and so he thought to turn it to a virtual community, specifically TimeTravelerMuck.
TimeTraveler was a whole new world for me, literally — a text-based one. Like most worlds, it stopped spinning, but I found other ones, like DruidMuck and QWestMuck. That’s where my current character, Carinah, was born. When QWest stopped spinning in 1994, my friend Mystikite started DelusionsMuck, and asked me to be one of its first Wizards. I accepted, and have been the Wizard of Citizen Relations ever since.
A few years later I branched out to other types of worlds, and roleplayed on a few, especially Tales of Ta’veren (as Tazendra), ChivalryMUX (as Tiamat and Seadlin), and TrekMOO (as Lhana). Each of those worlds stopped spinning, though, which left me yearning for a creative outlet that combined storytelling and acting and all of the things I love best.
In 2004, a muck friend told me about Second Life, explaining it as a graphical version of MUDs, so I ventured into its virtual depths as Cygnoir Blanc. I love SL, especially participating in trivia events, and have made some wonderful friends as a result.