Is Tamriel the New Tuesday Cafe?
Now for all of you youngin’s who don’t know what Tuesday Cafe was let me start with a little story.
As a new-ish grad student and a budding technorhetorician I entered Connections MOO on a Tuesday evening for the first time almost 20 years ago. The place was full of Taris, mdays, tengrrls, Kafkazs, and kiwis wiggling their toes. It was love at first sight. In this cafe with the bartender appropriately named Rhet who supplied me with all of the coffee that I wanted (which got as cold as the cup next to my keyboard did IRL) I found not only mentors, but friends. It was years before I met some of them in person (and some of them I never did), but these were the people who reassured me that play could be educational, even at the post-secondary level. It was these people who helped me to figure out what the hell I was doing with technology in my meatspace classroom. These people that I talked with about articles that we would never have read in my own graduate seminars (C&W classes really didn’t exist back then). This was community building at it’s best. When Tuesday Cafe closed it’s doors and Rhet cleaned up for the last time I think that there were a lot of us who shed a tear. Our space was gone. Our community had ironically moved…offline.
Today I still study play. And I still want to be surrounded by smart people who do the same thing to talk about what we do in the classroom and to have someone to bounce research ideas off of. And I longed for Tuesday Cafe. And then I did it, I took the plunge and joined the Venture Guild. Something that I hadn’t done before now because their presence was mainly in WoW, which I had sworn off of a while ago. But now Elder Scrolls Online has launched. As a huge fan of the Morrowind series I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the MMO based in Tamriel and when I learned that a bunch of academic type folks from Venture Guild were going into ESO I was elated!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully recognize the downside to going into an MMO at launch. I have spent lots of time falling through infinite space, being stuck in floors, walls, and what have you, but that doesn’t matter much to me right now because what I do have is some time to talk with other game scholars about games/play/narrative in a game space (or on Facebook). I look at Venture Guild and I am happy not only for myself, but for the opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation of technorhetoricians/digital humanists/gamers in the same way that all of those wonderful folks (shout out to Michael Day, Kathy Fitch, Traci Gardner, Tari Fanderclai, Janice Walker, et. al) on Connections MOO did for me so long ago.
Tamriel is the new Tuesday Cafe and while I am more likely to get killed by a wolf or a reanimated skeleton than get a steaming hot cup of coffee or an ice cold beer from a bartender named Rhet, it is definitely a good thing.