Why I play: Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO Falathlorn House
A year ago I came to Massively as an odd-man-out of sorts. I had very little experience with MMOs, but for the previous two years I had podcasted and blogged about Star Trek Online. That being my only experience with the genre, I had very little interest in (read: I was fearful of) trying any other game. Trying another game meant that I was leaving my comfort zone and also, maybe, risking the perception that I was being disloyal to the game that gave me so much enjoyment.

However, a new friend and co-worker, Justin Olivetti, changed my mind. Because of him and his great The Road to Mordor columns here at Massively I decided to take the plunge and give Lord of the Rings Online a try. So in June of last year I took the plunge and I have found myself smitten by yet another MMO based on a powerhouse franchise that I adore.


LOTRO Aranneth character page
They say first impressions are the most important

I will admit here and now that part of the reason that Justin's Road to Mordor columns struck me so was because he was reporting on a game that is derived from another franchise that I love. Like most people my age, I grew up on Tolkien and his works. I ran around the house the day that my mother got The Silmarillion in the mail in conjunction with her Book of the Month Club membership. I still have the book to this day, along with reprintings of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings set.

My first foray into the re-imagining of the quintessential fantasy universe of Lord of the Rings Online didn't quite give me the same excitement. You see, I was spoiled in a way by STO. The science-fiction game gave me something I didn't even realize was missing from other games -- an amazing and very detailed character creation tool. To say the least, LotRO's character creation session left me extremely disappointed. Choices were limited and I knew by the end of it all my character would probably end up looking remarkably similar to every other character in the game. However, I would not be deterred. Surprisingly, my first choice of character name was accepted and I jumped into the tutorial.

LOTRO Bree at night
A few weeks in and I was hooked

My focus and first love in MMOs will likely always be Star Trek-related. Yet just a few weeks into playing LotRO (by the way, I was free-to-play until last December when I converted to VIP) I realized that the game was giving me a few things I really didn't know I was missing in STO. Yep, you guessed it: crafting.

I found that I really enjoyed having my jeweler harvest ore as she ran around and completed her quests. The only problem was, she didn't really have anyone in particular to give them to. I used the auction house quite a bit, but low-level jewelry isn't really in demand, nor does it pay particularly well. It wasn't until I bit the bullet and accepted an invite into a kinship that things changed.

LOTRO Kings Cross
A good kinship should fit like a comfortable sweater

I will be honest and say that I'm really picky when it comes to choosing a social circle in games. I have a temperament that many high-octane players would find, well, stifling. I detest rudeness in all of its forms. I don't play games so I can argue about religion or politics with people. Quite frankly, I play games so I can escape the emotional exhaustion that my real-life job imposes upon me. I don't want to argue with people while my Hunter assists a Captain and a Runekeeper as we take on a horde of orcs.

So the first couple of tries at finding a kinship didn't work out so well for me. Either they were too battle-focused and wanted to do nothing but skirmishes or instances, or they did nothing together except kvetch in kin chat about every taboo subject under the sun. In one case they actually plotted on how to grief other people. It was a challenge to find the right fit for me, a challenge that for a time, I thought I might actually fail.

LOTRO Celondim
Luckily, I ran into a kinship leader who sent me an invite and then patiently and graciously underwent a battery of questions about her kin and whether or not they might tolerate someone who didn't like mean people. I joined the kinship very cautiously, just waiting for the time when everything would fall apart and I would be forced to leave out of frustration.

That day has yet to come. Flock of Moosen has been my home for the past few months and I have to say they have been extraordinary. They are most generous to each other, and while they often help each other out with leveling or instances or raids, their main focus in terms of social interaction is crafting. I finally found a group of people with whom I could share the jewelry my character made and in return I found that they provided me with the armor, weapons, food, and scholar's lore that keep my character in good fighting form.

LOTRO Shire housing area
As I have admitted in my Captain's Log columns I am an altaholic, and in LotRO I am no different. Thanks to the support of my kin, I now have a character for each crafting profession and they support my love of making stuff.

And then it hit me, I have a lot of fun in LotRO! The experiences I initially had with trying to find a kinship were pretty much just weird anomalies. Most other kins that interact with ours are awesome! We've participated in social events with other kins and they also love playing in the amazingly huge world that Turbine created for the game.

So I play LotRO for the very same reason I play STO -- and that's for the people and the community. I have fun and I'm able to feel like I can contribute to people I care about. And really, for a game to provide that kind of connection is pretty darned cool.

There's an MMO born every day, and every game is someone's favorite. Why I Play is a column in which the Massively staff members kick back and reminisce about all their favorite MMOs. Whether it's the new hotness or an old fan favorite loaded with nostalgia, each title we cover here tugs at our heartstrings and keeps us coming back for more.
This article was originally published on Massively.