Initiation station: Is this real life or is this just Phantasy Star Online?


Promoted from our community blogs

[From humble beginnings, David Jenkins managed to start a successful guild where nobody knew their organization was being led by children. ~Strider]

Man, looking up photos for this blog post hit me with all kinds of feels and nostalgia. Above all else, man… Phantasy Star Online (Episode I and II) was a great-ass game. Maybe that’s just ten-year-old David talking, but who knows. I just know I have such vivid and happy memories of PSO that I’ll never soon forget. When I saw this month’s topic for the cblogs, I knew I had to bring up PSO. I discovered Phantasy Star at an extremely pivotal moment in my life. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up and didn’t care much for talking to people unless it was about Pokémon. As a kid, I always wanted to be someone else. I wanted to be someone cooler… someone who other people saw as an inspiration.

My only friend who I really had in late elementary school, early middle school was that of… we’ll call him Adam. I developed a friendship with Adam through our mutual love of Majora’s Mask and how we felt it was far and away better than Ocarina of Time. It’s always easy to build a friendship off of mutual interests and I’ll always be grateful for Adam and everything we went through together. We were both hanging out at Funco Land (bless anyone who still remembers good ol’ Funco) and happened across a game that was called Phantasy Star Online. We both had just gotten the first-generation Xbox and we were interested. If only we knew at that time what we were getting into. Oh man.

The game had a surprisingly strong character creator for its time. The classes were basically broken down into melee, ranged, and magic. From there, you could choose certain types of characters to specialize in aspects of those classes and then you’re whisked away to make your character. Adam and I spent about three hours on the phone together deciding on which characters we should be to where we could level up together. Adam also wasn’t the most social type at the time so we wanted to limit playing with other people as much as possible. To be fair, this was my first MMO (if it can qualify as that) and I didn’t understand the concept of what this game meant. Boy, did I learn quickly.

Adam and I were teleported into the game and we were off. I can go on and on about the endless hours we spent way past our bed time playing this silly game. Using programmed controllers to get infinite levels and money, etc. etc. But the reason why I wanted to talk about PSO in particular for this segment was because of the social impact it had on me. It gave me a voice I didn’t know I had and allowed me to be someone without others seeing who Ireally was, at least physically.

Adam and I made a clan/group in the game called =DnA= (his real name does start with an A and I’m David and yeah we were about as clever as two 12-year-olds could be) and at first, we did it just so we could have our own lobby. But then people saw us play in the game and saw how good we were. We took the game extremely seriously and didn’t settle for just good enough. If only our work ethic for school matched that. That work ethic caught on quickly to others who joined the group and over the course of about two months, =DnA= was a hit among a lot of PSO players.

We ran the usual clan meetings every week, had delegated positions, and what not. We were about as serious as you can take an MMO clan. The wild thing is, no one in the group really knew we were 12 years old but they all bought us as their clean leaders. How wild is that? People respected my voice and input for a silly video game and were willing to spend their precious free time to help contribute to clan =DnA=. At one point, I came back to the game after a year or so of quitting and it was remarkable to see people still with the clan =DnA= tag and I decided to join the clan under a new character for fun. It was wild to see how active it still was. When I left the game, we had a little over 90 people in the clan and when I joined it as a new character there was about 60-70 active players.

This game gave me the kind of confidence I needed as a kid. Granted, I didn’t end up becoming some kind of social dictator and demand people follow my lead but it gave me enough confidence to actually want to make friends. It was a prettyradfeeling and it’s why I’ve come to fall in love with the MMO genre as a whole. It gives the perfect concept of how you can be someone completely different in a video game but you’re still yourself at the core, even if you didn’t know it.

Man, now I really want to renew my subscription for Final Fantasy XIV.

So, that’s my story on PSO and the kind of confidence it gave a kid who so desperately needed some. But secretly, my favorite thing about the game was the fact you could just poop out a magical floating chair at any given time.

Do any of you have a certain game that gave you some kind of confidence or had a special impact you at a young age? Maybe a favorite MMO? Let me know!