With all due respect to Arc and the other volunteers that actually helped people (as opposed to the clueless volunteers I ran into more than 50% of the time) you guys can actually still help people. No there’s no magic button a player can press that will get you to magically appear. You won’t be able to work your shift, bop all over the place with nifty tools the rest of us don’t have, and wear cool robes. But you can still help people. That ability hasn’t left you. Just the ‘officialness’ of it. Oh, and the cool toys (the robe, the tools, etc.).

Personally, I think you are better off without the officialness of the whole thing. In LOK I used to run newbie hunts. No we didn’t hunt newbies — all you PK types can just stop with the shit-eating grins right now — they were hunts where experienced people took newbies out to get experience. None of us experienced people were representatives of KesCo and I know there’s more than a few of those newbs that are now playing UO, EQ or AC that read this site.

Those hunts were a bitch. Really they were. Oh my God what a pain in the ass… you cannot even imagine. I organized them twice a week for approximately four months — advance publicity, getting the hunts announced, posting it on the boards, rounding up the newbs, rounding up people to help, equipping the newbs, taking them out on the hunts, getting them ressed when they died (which was often) — the whole kit and kaboodle. By the time I stopped doing them (because I was playing too much UO) I was thoroughly burnt out. As was everyone else who was doing them. But if we hadn’t gone to UO, we would have continued to do them.

And by golly, when we went to UO what do you suppose we did? You got it — we helped newbies. My guild would go to Brit (the boil on the armpit of UO if ever there was one) and do free blacksmithing. We would hand out free armor, free weapons, even free regs. We would take the newbs to Covetous where we would all get collectively PK’d (so early UO wasn’t perfect — this isn’t exactly news). Sure people took advantage of us. So what? Hell we were boat mining and had ingots coming out of our asses. At some point I remember the boat miners of my guild arguing over who had the most hundreds of thousands of ingots. What the hell are you supposed to do with that many ingots? Why, you give free armor and weapons to newbies — that’s what you do with it.

Not a one of us was a counselor. Or a GM. One person in the entire guild eventually became a counselor. A really good one as I understand it. I’m not surprised — she would have made an exceptional counselor. We helped people because that is what we wanted to do.

I had been playing NWN for about a week when one day I wandered down to the sewers and was summarily slaughtered by KAAOS. The next day I’m at the dracs and I see this guy who had delivered the killing blow. He’s now helping me kill the dracolich. So I start up a conversation with him about how much nicer it is to be on the same side as him rather than being killed by him and the next thing I know he’s taking me out to finish getting my character maxxed. Of course my guild wisked me away from the bad man about 10 minutes later after I messaged them and told them that this really cool guy in Kaaos was helping me max. I don’t know what their problem was. They just didn’t understand or something.

But the point of this is that people have always helped newbies (and even non-newbies) and they don’t need to be counselors or guides or NWs or volunteers or official to do it. They just have to want to help. Quite frankly, if you have to be official to help — then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. That lawsuit against OSI by the former volunteers makes me want to puke every time I think about it. I hate that thing. I hate the people who started it. Not out of any misplaced loyalty to OSI because I don’t have any. But because those volunteers knew what they were getting into when they became volunteers and had the option to quit at any time. And now they are about money and revenge and destroying a company rather than helping people. Oh but they were ALL about helping people at one time — that’s why they became volunteers. Kind of a 180 degree turn around in basic principal there eh? But I digress.

I’ll even go so far as to say that MANY (not all, there are many people that volunteer to help — but definitely quite a few) of the people who become official volunteers don’t do it because they want to help. Oh they may want to help — but they are driven more by the robe, or the tools, or an ego trip, or even the chance to ‘break into the gaming industry’ than by any sense of wanting to help. Because you don’t need the sanction by the gaming company in order to help people. You just have to want to do it. I mean it isn’t like there’s a scarcity of people in the game needing help. Or even that they are hard to find.

UO’s volunteer program was the most extensive volunteer program I’ve ever seen in all the games I’ve played. It isn’t surprising to me that it was abused by many. It isn’t surprising to me that it’s being abolished. But for those who have never played any other type of game, it might surprise them most games don’t (or didn’t) have this extensive network of officially sanctioned representatives from the game company to help out. The players did that. All on their own without any help from anyone and without any prodding.

So if you want to help people, like the shoe company says, just do it. You don’t need to be a counselor. You don’t need OSI’s assistance. All you need is the willingness to do it. So just get your ass out in the game and do it. Or don’t do it. Whatever floats your boat. But don’t cry and say that now you won’t be able to. Because you will. There’s nothing stopping you. There never was.