For any who don’t know, I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I’ve re-read the books multiple times, including the Silmarillion, the Hobbit, and the first few books of the History of Middle-earth. It’s something that has defined the greater portion of my life. So, when I discovered Lord of the Rings: Online, I was eager to delve in.
Lord of the Rings: Online, or lotro as it’s better known, has been around for a few years now. The wonderful thing about this mmo is that it’s based off of the BOOKS, not the movies. So you’ll find Tom Bombadil and Goldberry in the Old Forest. You run into Bill Ferny and take the road out of Bree, passing the Forsaken Inn. You meet all of the characters from the books (so far) and travel to all of the wonderful worlds written about in the legendarium. As a ringer, this was heaven. However, as an introvert, it was frightening as hell learning to interact with other gamers, having to ask for help.
Six months back, rumours began to grow that 2017 might be the last year lotro is around for. This terrified me into action. I didn’t want this great game to go away without being able to experience everything I had shirked off due to being too chicken to interact with strangers. So, I put out a call to other ringers and gamers who were interested in playing together as a group, every week, with new characters, to experience the story in full. I made a point of letting everyone know this was for fun. There were to be no heavy expectations. No yelling if you let someone die. No ragequitting for failing a quest twenty times in a row. Just a casual stroll.
Surprisingly, folks really took a shine to this concept of low risks gaming. A group was formed. After a few weeks, our attendance remained steady. People actually showed up. People actually talked and helped each other out. No one complained. No one yelled. It was amazing.
Six months later, we’re still playing. Week by week, we’re making our way through Middle-earth. It’s such a great feeling, being able to live out my love of Middle-earth, to interact with Frodo and the Fellowship, while at the same time, building my own fellowship with a group of folks that come from different parts of the world, of different ages, who all share the love of Tolkien that I do.
I am very grateful.