Hey, you think about something to say, maybe. It was a shared connection. He talked about his attempts to wire up a home LAN, I talked about my interview with the Verant design team. All the while, I imagine, both of us just struck dumb for the lack of anything else to say. How do you fill in fifteen years’ worth of blank? “Um, hi. I was a weird kid. I know. I grew up. Sort of. I think.” I don’t know.

So I told him about the site (which only mildly bruised my ego – what, doesn’t every EQ player know about the-infamous-Lum-the-Mad?) and he tried to puzzle out exactly what the hell I was talking about. “You have JAPANESE on your poll?” “Um, yeah. It’s a joke. It says ‘Bring back past magic, you female dog.’ Long story.”

So why do we play games with hundreds, thousands, what will soon become millions of others? I mean, it’s much easier to get a good gaming experience from single player games. Much more coherent story, much better balance, most people are idiots. You know the drill.

But what takes precendence – why we put up with, well, everything, the whole sorry litany of human misadventure and stupidity – is because we’re looking for that disconnect, some way of linking with the people behind the screen, even if that’s the last thing we’ll ever admit to ourselves. We want something to our lives beyond the hit points and the phat lewt. We want connection beyond ourselves.

I tried to explain, but the words never came. I’m far better with typography than speech, you see. When talking I can only fumble and wait through the embarassed silence, whereas on a screen my fingers can dance and I can explain that yes, everything is better now, and I’ve sort of made something of myself, and I no longer am sort of blindly roaming the universe. It’s a lot easier to type than to say, believe me. Especially when you’re on cold medicine and trying to comprehend that you have a family again.

And while I was posting cynical update after wry commentary after daft stream of consciousness, my father was quietly levelling up, somewhere on Innoruuk, ever since Everquest launched, two years ago this week. And I was somehow, although I never knew it until today, closer than I could have ever guessed, even in such a banal way. Maybe the banality of it all makes it all the more real.

And the community – the people – the connection that I sought was there all along, in ways great and small, from the hundreds of people who write me on a daily basis to the one who had not a clue how close he was to someone who had fled, long ago.

That’s why we do what we do. That’s why we write what we write, say what we say. We’re all looking, and some days, we find.

Hi, Dad.