GP / Short history of chatrooms / Realms of Elahrair / Geekery

May 17, 2007 at 7:49 am 2 comments

I’m off to see the GP in a couple of hours time. This appointment is essentially so the GP can check I haven’t crashed down into suicidal depression due to citalopram withdrawal. I haven’t, though I have been generally down since I stopped taking it. Hard to tell if that’s caused by the lack of an SSRI floating around my brain or just a reversion to my standard blah-state.

The domain for my non-anonymous site expired recently and I couldn’t be bothered to renew it. I hadn’t updated there for months, so no great loss. I also seem to have stopped reading the various newsgroups I used to. I don’t seem to miss them much at all. Withdrawing from life and hiding away in your flat is one thing. What does it mean when you’re withdrawing from your online life and hiding away in your anonymous blog?

There is one new thing I’m maybe doing. It’s geeky and is essentially a way of hiding out in my past. I’ll explain.

Way back, about 10 years ago when the internet was all shiny and new (well, newish) instant messaging was in its infancy. ICQ had just come out, AIM didn’t exist, AOL having only just got its head round the fact that when people signed up for internet access they wanted to access the internet, not just those bits of it that AOL had created. Microsoft was still of the opinion that the internet was set up so that Bill Gates could write a book about how it was going to change everything in ways he could only be very vague about. It was a different world. If you wanted to talk to people on the internet in anything approaching real time, you either logged onto IRC (which required you to download special software and learn weird commands like /join) or found a chat room.

Chat rooms. The way they are today is so different to the way they once were. And I’m one of the people who remember when Yahoo! Chat was a very slightly modified version of iChat (rather than the very heavily modified version it now is). iChat was actually pretty impressive at the time, most websites did it all in plain HTML and you had to refresh the page to find out what people had said since you last reloaded. Such was the way with WBS (the WebChat Broadcast System), possibly the most popular chat room site on the internet at that point. In 1998 it got bought by Infoseek, who then got bought by the Go Network, who destroyed what was left of WBS. Another casualty of the dotcom fallout, but while it lasted it was good.

Of course, at 15 I was way too geeky to actually talk to real people (or at least real people lying that they were other real people), and I gravitated towards the roleplaying rooms. One in particular, in fact, the Realm of Elahrair. For those who’ve managed to avoid being exposed to this kind of thing, you’d pretend to be a character and would type what actions you were doing, while a load of other people would be pretend to be other characters and do much the same. The Realm of Elahrair was set in a castle. The castle didn’t exist, not even in software. There was a description of it on a webpage, and the people who were in the castle would note which room they were in, so it would be poor form for someone in the kitchens to respond to events going on in the great hall. (I did say this was geeky.)

It was kind of anarchic. It was supposed to be a rather generic fantasy medieval setting, but a huge number of people seemed to be playing vampires (including a number of different versions of Lestat from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles), or (and I’m still not sure how exactly they fitted in) characters from the anime Ranma 1/2. Most people seemed to just make up their characters.

But it was fun as long as you didn’t take it too seriously.

So in some kind of semi-wistful longing to retreat into the past, I’ve been looking for somewhere similar to play around on these days. It’s not like I’m doing much else with my evenings. At worst it’ll be another distraction.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Somewhither  |  January 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Found this entry while wasting time on Google. I used to spend eons of time on WBS, particularly in the RoE. I was even a moderator in the room for a long while. Who did you most often play as? I’m terribly curious! 🙂

  • 2. Dani  |  February 17, 2009 at 1:51 am

    I found this blog post while searching under Realm of Elahrair. I played several characters there, but my main was a woman named Daneira.

    It’s 2009, and I still miss WBS…so you most definitely aren’t alone. If you don’t mind, I’ll put your blog on my feed.

    :o)

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?

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As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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