Well, that was a first for me.
All my gaming for the past 30 years has been around a table, passing books and dice around and quickly and easily explaining character generation, rules and combat. Minis and counters guided our encounters and banter was easy and flowing. Not so in the internet. A slow connection and a dicey computer almost destroyed any interest I had in gaming over the web.
Let me explain what's happening here. Recently my wife joined the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club and met some very nice people there. They swapped letters and it was decided that everyone wanted to try D&D, and my wife, bless her Jayne hat, volunteered me as DM. 'Okay' I thought, 'I'll give it a go'.
After purchasing a webcam and settling down at my computer with the basic D&D books we got started on Google+ and I began by introducing the game. But disaster struck. Slow connection. A dodgy PC that wouldn't keep up. A constant echo in the headphones that annoyed me and a stop-and-start nightmare that stalled everything.
After a long period of slow, confusing character creation in which almost nothing happened I looked at Lisa with a pained expression. 'I don't want to do this anymore', I said. After a few more moments I finally dumped my machine altogether and used Lisa's laptop. The character creation finally began.
And what a wonderful session it was. We could finally talk in virtual realtime, we went through the classes bit by bit and I simply read out the numbers and told them where to put them, questions were asked, concerns were raised and characters were created. I mapped out the world I wanted to use - original Forgotten Realms - and explained the kind of game I was going to run. As it was an online game there would be combat but not extremely tactical as we had no combat mat or minis we could move around effectively. I would concentrate more on plot than on rolls as the dice rolling would get in the way, no doubt. Overall I wanted to make the game story driven as the limitations of the internet, the fact that we weren't all standing around a gaming table, would severely hinder combat and mapped exploration.
But most of all, what I took away from all of this, was simply how much fun I had once the computer problem had been sorted. I was talking and interacting with friendly, funny and simply nice people and it was relaxed, fun and quite sincere. We were all there for the game but also to meet fellow nerds who enjoy geek stuff. I had one of the best times I've ever had in the roleplaying hobby and these people were thousands of miles away.
And do you know what?That really irked me. It irked me that these people who I just spent a couple of hours gaming with don't live around the corner, weren't sat at the same table as me or are available for a quick call or a coffee so that we can talk about character backgrounds or adventure ideas. Because I've just tasted live international internet none-MMO roleplaying and I want more, damn your eyes!
And I demand that 'twatter' is added to the dictionary!