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How Firan is better then Video Gaming

A friend recently asked me "What’s the point in playing a game that has no winner and doesn’t ever end?” Now, what brought about this conversation was that he had seen me playing on a text based game for several months. My friend had been mildly interested to the point of just asking what it was and then rolling his nose when I told him he had to actually think and read the whole time.

See, my friend is heavily into gaming - video gaming. He loves games, but he wants the graphics and his options laid out for him. Now, do no get me wrong, I like video games too. I grew up on video games and I still play games to this day, but I am drawn more to the freedom of a text based gamed. Until recently, video games were very structured and laid out. My first video game was the Atari System with a cassette of Pack-Man and I would sit and gobble up the little white dots and chase ghosts all day. I remember the first Mario Brothers game that was the classic side scrolling movement and there was no way to turn back. You just went level by level until you got to the end and then you started the game all over again. When Mario Brothers II hit the stands, you could move back and forth on the screen, but it was still a very structured game that made you move level by level. Mario Brothers III was the first game that I saw that you could actually go back and replay different levels instead of being forced forward all the time. Your choices in the game were very limited, there was only one method to do something or one path to take and that was it. There was no 'creative' solution to the early generation of video games. Even the latest generation of video games, even though they allow more exploration within 'the level' they are still very structured and you are only allowed to follow a predestined path. Even the most sophisticated games today still have to be laid out on a predestined path that has to be followed. He is content with his predestined paths and realistic graphics.

However, I need something different.

I found text based gaming in the mid 1990's when my gaming circle had broken up after several members graduated from high school and left to go to college. I had taken a liking to role playing, since it something very creative and you had to think and look at all the clues that were laid out in front of you in order to find the solution. And of course, this meant that you had to try several different methods. After my circle had broken up, another friend told me to try online gaming. She said there were places on the internet were people could go to play. I was intrigued and went to a place she recommended, Dark Metal. I had primarily been playing White Wolf in the form of Vampires and Werewolves and Dark Metal was built around the White Wolf game. I spent nearly five years on Dark Metal, falling instantly in love with online gaming. Here was a community of players that all shared the same interest and could be accessed at anytime of day. The game was just like sitting around with friends, but you could visualize the text more, sit and think for a bit about what your character was going to do. Plus, you got to interact with people from all over the country and in some instances the world. I've met people all the way from Australia to in my home town. But I also got to see different perspectives on the same game. Two people with the same style character and style mission will approach it from different angles just based on the interpretation of the game. This is what makes text based games so much fun, working outside of the box.

Dark Metal started to fail, as is the natural course of the online game. Players drift in and drift out, the games surge and then die off. What starts out as a good idea is lost in the shuffle of real life. A friend lead me to another game, telling me it was different then the World of Darkness games that I had been playing. He said it still had dark themes at times, but overall it was a more upbeat game. He said it had a huge player base who was friend, staff that was interesting and a well laid and thought out plot that was a huge success.

I was introduced to Firan.

The basis of Firan is rather simple, a Greek/Roman based game but it is set on another planet so to speak. The history of the game is well written and complex, giving a host of possibilities. Plus, what I like is that the characters are pre-made, that you do not have to worry about getting into role-play (rp) groups. This was one thing I had struggled with on Dark Metal and other games, was that a character came onto the grid without any ties and you had to work hard to get them involved in things, to be found and adopted. With Firan, you could step into a family and assume a role, starting with a circle and they helped you learn the game. Yes, this is different then video games where you are not given the choice of a character to play or you are only given body styles or armor color to select from.

The game is packed with many things that give it its flare; religious, social, economic, nationalist and even sexual themes. There is the constant struggle between the pagans and the true believes the upper versus the lower class, clans versus clans, etc. The list goes on and on. Instead of a standard few races that were eligible on other games, here you had the choice between playing a noble priestess from a warlike clan to a common tailor from clan that represses its women. The possibilities are endless on a game like this, unlike the assumed role you would pick in a video game. Your imagination is the only limiting factor. I have personally played a whore that was an outcast of a noble family, a young princess that did her duty, a tailor that is opinionated and well past her prime but she still keeps the men noticing her, a grandmother that is bipolar in her moods, and a young girl from a clan that value their women less then horses. I could never get all this from a single video game.

Now, before you say “Hey!” let me explain a few things. There is a difference between video games and text based games. The rules are laid out in a text based game, but you are allowed to draw your own path, slip into the mind of the character and see what they want and need, rather then what you want and need. In a video game, it is hard to do since you are not given choices. Another aspect is that the video game is always the same; you know what is going to happen when you step through the door. On the text based games such as Firan, you have no idea what is waiting on the other side of the door. Just when you think you have a handle on the situation, the staff and other players of the game throw you a curve ball and make you think fast. I have never felt my heart race during a video game, but several times I have logged off from Firan feeling physically and mentally exhausted from the rp that happened. That is what I love about text based gaming, it draws you in and makes you feel apart of it. You will live your characters, cry and laugh with them. You can not get this from a video game, sure frustration when the character dies and you have to start over again, but you can not push restart on a text based game like Firan.

Another thing that I like about text based games is that they are always different. Unlike video games where level one is always the same, whereas games like Firan have different things happening all the time. For example, on Firan there are the every day situations that are role-played out but there are also planned events. Spring festivals, fall festivals, Olympics, war season and resolution day are just naming a few. There are also random plots that encompass the entire grid and draw everyone in.

To me, video gaming is something you do when you do not want to think but you want something to pass the time and be entertained instead of just watching television. There is nothing wrong with that, I still pull out the old Playstation and Nintendo every now and then and play video games, curled up in a blanket and just zone out. It is fun! But the real fun comes when your imagination is challenged and put to use and that is what I find really entertaining.

So, to answer my friend’s question, I like games that are fun, stimulate my mind without being repetitive, giving freedom to make decisions in the plot of the game without worrying that there are only a limited number of levels and allowing interaction with people from all over the world.

Player of Savni @ Firan Mux
http://firan.legendary.org

Submitted by:

Patricia Robertson

Patricia Robertson

I am a Mining Engineer by training, but have always been interested in writing - both technical and creative. Any article published here is for the sole purpose of entertainment or education.





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