Most Memorable Experience

What kinds of experiences do players find the most memorable in an MMO? What is it that brings back the most salient memories once the game experience itself has past and the dust settles? In this article, we'll take a look through what players described to be their most memorable MMO experiences. As we will see, these experiences are almost always social experiences. Even in the cases where achievement is a strong component of the experience, it is the social aspect of achievement that players emphasize.


Goal-oriented or achievement-oriented experiences were the primary category that most of the narratives fell under.

Team Achievements

Within this category, most players described an achievement in a social context. The "against all odds" scenario was one that was recounted by players across a wide variety of games.

While playing EverQuest (the original) my constant group had just moved into a new territory. We were engaged in fighting some regular mobs when suddenly the baddest mob in that territory attacked us. Now we had already been killed once or twice by that mob, so our natural reaction was to run. But, one of our members had been rooted in the previous engagement. I was the tank, so I engaged to give time to my companion for the root to break. My group returned and we fought the baddest mob in the region and beat it. My heart still picks up a beat when I remember that fight. [WoW, M, 45]

After playing WoW for about a year, my friends and I joined up with another small guild and headed into The Core. We all worked hard as hell to succeed, and put in many hours out of game in order to advance the group in MC. On about our sixth attempt on Lucifron we killed him. I've never felt so elated. I've competed on sports teams, worked hard academically, and played many another video game, but I've never felt so elated, such a sense of accomplishment. [WoW, M, 20]

My most memorable experience is with my guild, Team Spirit, in The Saga of Ryzom. We trekked across the World of Ryzom to reach an Outpost War. We were helping to defend the outpost from it's attackers and there were supposedly many people going to the war. Upon arriving at the outpost we found that many who had pledge their support to the defense of the outpost had not arrived. We were 30 minutes into a two hour battle and the outpost was almost lost. We fought long and hard and coordinated our healing and attacks and manage to barely pull off a victory. It was a great experience having entered into a battle where all hope was lost and pull out a victory. It felt like we were the cavalry from the old westerns that arrives just in the nick of time! [Saga of Ryzom, M, 40]


PvP Achievements

Sometimes, events are memorable not because of collaboration, but because of competition. Several players brought up their PvP experiences, but there were far fewer of these in comparison with memories of team achievements. Of course, as we see in the third narrative, collaboration and competition can occur at the same time.

I was playing as my rogue in World of Warcraft, and had just spirit rezzed, and as such was incapable of putting up a fight. A horde warlock killed me in this weakened state, and I swore revenge. I got back to my corpse, and rezzed, with the warlock nearby. I snuck up to him and sapped him. When that wore off, I sapped him again. When that wore off, he tried to aoe fear, but I wasn't next to him, and then I sapped him again. I spent 10 minutes avoiding his aoes and detection attempts, using every ability I had to keep the warlock completely incapacitated, and to prevent him from running. At the end of those 10 minutes, no longer having res sickness, I massacred him, spat on his corpse, and left. [WoW, M, 22]

The first online MMORPG I played (Last Kingdom) as soon as I was high enough to be pk'd by another player I was, over and over again day in and day out, to the point to where IMO it was probably considered grief play but I didn't know that there was a such thing at the time since I was new to the world of MMORPG's. Any how I hated it so much that I found a secluded place and I literally power leveled myself up past the griefers level so that he was no longer able to kill me, then not to my surprise when I ran past him he tried his hand at his old pk trick again and much to his surprise I was able to turn around and swat him with my sword and actually killed him in return for all the pk'ing he had done to me in the past. It was very enjoyable to finally get revenge. [WoW, F, 30]

This was in DAoC, before the ruin that was Tales of Atlantis. I had finally made it to lvl50 with my scout (my friends had achieved lvl 50 on different days within two weeks) and got my epic gear and enchants. So we went out to hunt other factions. What I got myself into was a war! I did not expect this; a raid on Midgard soil was going on and friendly forces had captured a castle. We joined them and for the next 3 hours we were fighting back and forth between two rival castles, ours and theirs. In the end, some allies that were more experienced in realm vs. realm joined us, organized us and built siege machines. That final launch and capture of the enemy castle is burned in my memory and serves to this day as what a PvP should be; frantic, massive, tactical, and cooperative. [WoW, M, 30]

Solitary Achievements

This is not to say that no players listed solitary achievements as being very memorable, but these were very rare.

I believe my sweetest memory was completing the Coldain Prayer Shawl in EverQuest. This quest took me nearly 18 months to complete and consumed probably 75% of my total assets in EverQuest, perhaps more. [WoW, M, 35]

[The experiences] involve a particularly difficult feat that I pulled off with my character (i.e. one time I was able to defeat two level 60 players in a Battleground by myself at the same time, another time I was able to solo most of the 'Onyxia Quest Chain' in BRD, etc.) - these experiences always give a sense of triumph over insurmountable odds. [WoW, M, 30]


The Trek

While most of the achievements listed so far revolve around combat and killing mobs, there was one particular non-combat achievement that several players described. This involved the long cross-continent run that many EQ players did. The scenario is worth documenting because it doesn't primarily involve killing mobs or gaining quest items and because players who described it did so in great detail (which is impressive given how long it has been since they did the run). It also highlights how pervasively dangerous the world of EQ was compared with some of the more recent MMOs, and how that constant danger helped many relationships to form. Also worth pointing out is that no other trek in any other game was mentioned in the player responses. Due to the length of these narratives, I'm only going to present one.

Back when I first started playing EverQuest, I really wanted to play a barbarian shaman, but my friend had just bought the game and made a high elf paladin. Geographically, the two races couldn't have started much further apart. Seeing as I had a bit more experience with the game, though, I volunteered to make the very long, dangerous run from Halas (the barbarian starting city) to Felwithe, the high elves' starting city.

When you died, you went back to your bind point. At the time, the only classes that could cast the bind spell were, if I remember correctly, mages and wizards. And EverQuest was very mercenary in its day; if you wanted a bind, you had to pay someone, and while it wasn't exactly millions of platinum, even a single bind was way beyond the financial means of a newbie. Plus (again, if I remember correctly), you could only bind in city zones. Further complicating matters was that players always moved slower than mobs, and mobs never gave up the chase (unless you zoned). Given my low level and the speed of most mobs, basically, during this run (two hours, I think), if I aggroed anything, and wasn't either near one of a few guard posts or a zone line, I was dead.

So, I printed out some maps from EQatlas, and planned out the trip. I still remember it. Start in Halas, go south through the mountains into Blackburrow (a lowbie dungeon), then to the Qeynos hills, which would be the easiest part of the trip. From Qeynos Hills, you had to go to West Karana, an absolutely massive zone (the largest in the game, at the time), trying to keep an eye out for the werewolf spawn at the zone line that would be instant death (as would most of the mobs during this trip). Then, after getting across West Karana, North Karana, the most dangerous overland area I'd be going through. The griffons there were fast and tough enough to wipe out the guards, if they attacked it. From North Karana, I'd go to East Karana, a still dangerous (but substantially less so) area, up to High Hold Pass, a quasi-dungeon crawling with orcs and gnolls. Thankfully, it was usually so heavily camped that getting through wouldn't be much of a problem. From there, I had to travel through Kithicor Forest, a lowbie area by day that spawned with some of the nastiest undead in the game at night, and they didn't necessarily despawn at daybreak. So, my plan was to hug the northern zone wall the whole way through, and hope for the best. From Kithicor, I'd go to the Western Commonlands, a not-so-dangerous area. The mobs there could still kill me, but at least not as fast, and because the zone had a wizard spire, it was always full of high-level characters. I could probably get some help. Then, I'd go to the Eastern Commonlands, a lowbie zone that would be pretty easy to get across, then to Freeport, and - hopefully - a bind. From Freeport, I'd get on the boat to the Butcherblock mountains, an area roughly equivelent to the Western Commonlands, then to Greater Faydark, a lowbie area, and finally, Felwithe. Quite a trip.

To improve my chance of surviving, I found a few other lowbies that wanted to make the trip. I figured we'd caravan it. If we got aggroed, at least some of us would make it. And it worked, for a while. Somewhere in West Karana, we got aggroed, I believe it was by a lion, and it wiped out the whole group except for two of us. The other that survived, a higher-level wizard, managed to use Gate and teleport back to hit bindpoint. I was left running. But, just before the mob could catch be, something nuked it, and nuked it HARD. I looked around and saw a level 50 druid named Shider (who had presumably just blasted the crap out of that lion with Starfire). Shider asked me if I needed any help, and I told him I was trying to make the run to Felwithe to meet a friend. He buffed me, and just said to follow. Long story short, he made the trip for me; teleporting us both to the druid ring closest, then running us back, with Spirit of the Wolf (a run speed buff far more significant than anything WoW's got). He even took me right up to the gates of Freeport, and got a Bind for me. I said thanks, and he disappeared.

A few weeks later, I was around level 25-30, and … came across a ranger camping the ruins. We chatted a bit, I'd buff him up for the tougher fights, and over a few days, we kept bumping into each other and talking some more. Eventually, he asked me to join his guild. They were called the Freeport Tavern Drunks, so I accepted out of curiosity. After saying my hellos, I did a /who guild, and ... Shider! Over time, I found out Shider was played by a woman named Bobbie, who was a graphic arts student from Ohio. Not that anyone knew at the time, but she was dating (actually, not online) another guildmate. Eventually, I met her boyfriend, Jim (also from Ohio), and he and I got to be pretty good friends. These days, none of us play EverQuest anymore, but Jim and I talk online most days of the week, and I still talk to Bobbie on a somewhat infrequent basis. I generally don't make friends online, but Jim and Bobbie have been the exception. They're the only 'online' friends I've ever made. [WoW, M, 25]



The second most common category that narratives fell under revolved around specific relationships or memorable interactions with another person.

Random Acts of Kindness

As we saw towards the end of the narrative in the last section, random acts of kindness can make a huge impact. Indeed, many players described unexpected acts of generosity as their most memorable experience.

A good experience I once had was when I was on a low level alt and someone I was friends with on another character (who had no idea it was me) walked up to me and gave me a rare item saying "Here, this'll help you get started? I gave her a bunch of potions on my main in thanks and she never figured out why, but when she did that it just made me really happy. A random act of kindness to someone whom she thought she didn't know and would never see again. [WoW, F, 17]

I was running the Stratholme instance with a pick-up group. A very rare epic quality gun dropped. No one in the group needed it and everyone "greed" rolled for it, as it was Bind on equip. I won and was very surprised. Elated, I linked it into guild chat to brag about what I had won. At that time this item was the best hunter gun on the server and worth about 3-400+g on the auction house. My guild master at that time (a hunter and great and fun friend!) was very clearly very jealous. Though it was clear he wanted the item he did not say anything about it. He congratulated me said it would make me some good gold, and he log off very shortly after. I spent a few hours thinking about what to do with the gun - sell on AH or give to my hunter friend? Eventually I decided to wrap it up in wrapping paper and sent it to him in the game mail. I logged off not log after for the weekend and forgot about it all together. The next day (Sat) at 3pm there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find my online friend (the hunter) and his wife holding several bottles of wine and a huge cake. He was grinning ear to ear and had been so happy with what he'd found in the post they had got my address from another friend and driven 115 miles to come thank me. We had a great laugh about it all, had a little impromptu party and ending up sitting up to 3am talking about WoW and our experiences. It was great fun and a fabulous feeling to have been able to make someone happy with something that I had obtained luckily but with such little effort. [WoW, M, 33]

Romantic Relationships

Some players described how they met their romantic partner in an MMO. The latter two narratives really hit on the sheer "totally random" nature of how these relationships start in MMOs.

A friend and I used to spend many hours talking online - we'd take our characters somewhere scenic - Feralas (lush forests and waterfalls), the Barrens (high hilltops and great views), the roof of the Orgrimmar auction house, and sit and have hours long conversations. One of our favorite places to talk was the hill just outside of the Crossroads. If you look to the east you can just see the town and the smoke from the inn. To the north you can see the low trees and the open plains. It's quiet and out of the way. We'd often talk about guild issues there or discuss personal problems, sometimes just enjoy the scenery and some peace and quiet. Over time, it became apparent that he and I were developing a relationship. One day (November 21st to be precise!) he took me up to that hill and we stood there for a while, and that one place is where he asked me to go out with him. That was nine months ago and we've met in person and still have an amazing relationship. We don't go to the Barrens as often as we used to, but out of everything that's happened to me in almost 2 years of playing? That was absolutely the most memorable! [WoW, F, 30]

My most memorable experience was the night my girlfriend and I really hit it off on WoW. She was fishing right next to me in Dustwallow by the crash site and I just struck up a conversation with her. The next thing you know we were running around, killin' mobs together, and quoting Shakespeare! We've since moved in together, are totally and utterly and completely twitterpated, and haven't looked back. Out of 8M people who play WoW and 2M of them assumed to be Chinese gold farmers it never ceases to amaze me how I met the love of my life on the Gurubashi server at 3am PST. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. [WoW, M, 26]

So I was pissed off that I somehow made a healer as my first main character on City of Villains. I was 3/4 dead looking at my screen where I was about level 22 or 26 …debating on deleting my character and making something where every ass on the game would refrain from saying, 'Heal More' or 'Heal Me'. So … Yea! I got sick of that shit hella fast. Anyways ... I'm sittin lookin at my screen HATING my character, when I get an ingame Private Message, from some Guy named Omega Man. Hmm, says he is lookin for a healer. Now I at this point am sick to death of healing whole teams ... so I replied, Can I just heal you? He said, 'yeap' and ummm ... July 22nd 2006 we got married in real life. [CoH, F, 30]



For other players, the friendships they forged in the game were their most memorable experiences.

Shortly after starting the game, I ended up in Darkshore. I have no luck with directions IRL and that translated perfectly well into game as well. I asked once in the general channel if anyone was willing to help someone hopelessly lost finish a quest. A guy responded and we teamed up. He had 2 characters in party, and I'd come to find out later he had and maintained 2 accounts! He helped me finish my quest (he had a warrior and a priest) and we went on to team up through the remainder of the night. The next day when I came on, he invited me to group again. This happened day after day and soon we were inseparable. He had more free time then I did and would hold off leveling so that we could all be at the same place at the same time. We hit 60 together, were in the same guilds together, and explored end game content together. Our professions were complementary and we had 300 in each on our various alts. About 3 months ago he was shipped off to Iraq with no net access or phone access ... It's hard to lose contact with someone you talked with daily to someone you can't see at all. I think losing that connection with him for now is one of the hardest things about this game for me. The people make the game. How else can someone you could have never met in RL (He lived in FL and keeps to himself a lot, I'm very outgoing and talkative. He would have never approached me!) make such an impact in your life? [WoW, F, 27]

I have formed, over a period of two years, several very intimate friendships with people whom I will never meet, whose real names I will probably never know. We discuss in the most affectionate ways our deepest feelings, fears, experiences, children, books, sexual lives - in various degrees of depth. These relationships will NEVER be consummated by real life meetings. [CoH, F, 51]

One of the most memorable was when I was playing EQ, I had a cleric and she was working on the cleric epic, I posted that I needed help and I had a full raid force show up to help me, they were all friends that I had helped and made all the way thru game and they cared enough to come and help me out. It was the most amazing thing to me that people thought so much of me and how I was that so many would show up to help me. [WoW, F, 31]



Narratives related to death were much less common than the two main categories mentioned, but involved interesting aspects of the game in their own right and were brought up by players.

The Memorable Wipe

As Leeroy Jenkins has demonstrated, sometimes an unexpected wipe can be memorable. Pets were common culprits of these experiences.

Another incident that I witnessed over the other half's shoulder was one player's mechanical yeti taking offence at The Baron harming its owner and going to say hello before the group was anywhere near ready. Cue a very small furry animal tanking a very large undead bloke on a horse, a lot of 'WTF' on Skype and another, inevitable, wipe. This has now passed into Guild legend and created a new verb 'to yeti' that is widely used. [WoW, M, 29]

Just last night I was raiding Maraudon with four others and I forgot to dismiss my Imp before we jumped down a cliff and sadly my Imp ran around the long way and pulled about 15 mobs and I quickly Soul Stoned the priest and just waited to die, and for some reason I didn't and all the mobs just ran away from me and I was standing alone over everyone's body. I said 'Why am I still alive' and everyone was just completely dumbfounded. I emoted Maullynt laughs at all of you. He is God. About two seconds later I saw the mobs running back along the cliff towards me and shortly thereafter died. It turns out someone ran away and all the mobs were aggro'd on him leaving me alone. It was one of the funniest moments I have experienced in WoW. [WoW, M, 18]

Guild Death

A few players talked about how their guilds ended.

The one that immediately comes to mind is the ending of my old EverQuest guild. The guild had been floundering for some time and rather than withering away to nothing we decided to disband the guild ourselves and have a little memorial service. All the remaining members met outside of Freeport. Our guild leader made a speech and there was some storytelling of our more memorable exploits. After the disbanding, we had a little bit of friendly PvP in the Freeport Arena then went our separate ways. [WoW, M, 35]


Role-Played Funeral

One poignant narrative described how a role-played funeral took on a great deal of meaning for those who attended due to its proximity to 9/11.

This happened on a text-based game with a player base of over 300 or so people (FiranMux). On it, my character's brother, played by a serviceman overseas, was poisoned by the enemies of the main race. The character was, like his counterpart, a soldier and a heroic type. This happened sometime in September 2001, after the Tower attacks. His character's funeral turned out to be an outpouring of real grief translated into character views. People were commenting OOC that they were crying RL and finding ways to put their deepest held views and emotions into words for the sake of the catharsis onscreen. His IC death became a way for a lot of strangers to express their hate, hope, love, fear, grief, sorrow, and regret through a fictitious character and thus get it off of their real soul. [WoW, F, 26]

RL Death of Player

And finally, some players talked about the RL death of a player they knew.

The most memorable events, sadly, would be those that involved the death of fellow friends and companions. I've known several people who have died, way before their time. Most were through terminal illnesses. For these people, I believe the MMO environment allowed them to do things they could not do in the real world, due to the illnesses. The social environment was definitely a positive influence, and they got to know many people they might have never otherwise known. After these people passed away, the closest of close friends lived their character(s) on to get them to the highest level, in honor of their late friend. [Guild Wars, M, 24]

At one point a man whose screenname was Ry became a member of my (former) guild. Through time, I got to know him as a very amiable fellow. He was a 58 year old man from Canada (I can't remember which province). He was one of the most generous and helpful people I had even met on any online environment. He was also one of the most entertaining people to talk to over Ventrilo during downtime. Not to mention the huge moral boosts he constantly gave the guild as a whole. He came to be known as 'guild grandpa'. The dark side to this is that he had previously had 4 or 5 pulmonary embolisms. Well, one day when I was playing an alt with him on his main farming me a few pieces of gear from a lower instance, he complained of a sudden pain when he went to pick up his mail. As it turns out, he had another embolism, and another guildie who was online with us actually called his family for him and got him some assistance. A few months later he told everyone what had exactly happened, and that he had basically been given 6 months to live. Ry passed away just under a month ago. It was personally astounding to me how profoundly the death of a man I have never met (or even been in the same country as) could devastate me as much as it did. He passed peacefully in the presence of his entire family, ending his life with smiles and jokes, as was always his nature. He had asked his son to update everyone online about his condition and how he was doing. Despite all that he was going through, he was thinking about his friends he made online to the end. RIP Ry. [WoW, M, 21]



Finally, there are three other small categories that player narratives fell under.


In the section on Death, we saw a mention of role-playing. Here are other memorable stories that players had that relate more specifically to role-playing.

I was bored in Ironforge, so I just started RP walking around. All of a sudden, this guy I'd never even seen before started RP walking behind me. I figured he'd get bored and leave after a few seconds of walking, but he followed me for around two minutes. I turned around and confronted him about how he was following me. He claimed that he was just going the same way, and when I called BS, he said that he was hired to kill me. We then got into a 30 minute chase in which we just ran all over the city yelling random stuff about how I was going to get away from him and such. I tried all kinds of things like mind-controlling him off a cliff to get rid of him, but he kept coming back. He played the part of a persistent killer absolutely perfectly. Eventually, I managed to finally foil his plans by killing myself in lava, hence preventing him from obtaining my head in order to complete his job. After I rezzed, he told me that I had won this battle, but that he would chase me to the end of my days in order to complete the job. It was completely random, but the whole event was really fun. [WoW, M, 25]

I was able to roleplay so much more in EQ and I do miss it. I was able to officiate several weddings as a cleric. I remember them all. I miss people wanting to marry ingame. It was something created while playing the game but completely separate from it. I've never seen such strong community in a mmo since EQ. New mmos are so fast paced. I don't miss the long long hours of EQ which were necessary to progress and made RP easier to get into. [WoW, F, 33]

Meeting Guild IRL

We've seen mentions of guilds already in the two previous sections, but several players mentioned meeting their guild members in RL as their most memorable experience.

I have been in the guild for many years and in March of this year, a group of us decided that we should have a guild get-together. So we settled on the Anime Expo convention in Los Angeles. We all shared two rooms though one of them was for sleeping purposes only. It's interesting meeting the group of people that are usually found on guild chat and Ventrillo. We came from all over. A few of us were local to California but we did have a few Canadians and one person all the way from the UK. Getting to see the different faces and bodies and relating them to their respective voices was interesting too. Most of us have seen each other's pictures so there were not too many surprises (though people found me short!). [Ragnarok Online, M, 20]

One of the most memorable experiences in my MMO career has to be the first IRL party in my guild. Being in charge of the planning and meeting everyone face to face - most of them for the first time ever - was a very special and positive experience. We have had similar parties since, but the first one will always be the one I will remember as the most memorable as that took the guild to a whole new level. [WoW, M, 29]

The Initial Euphoria

And finally, a small handful of players described the euphoria they felt when they first get into a game - the sense of stepping foot in a whole new world.

Someone in my guild's forums has posted a link to a tribute to the *old* days of EverQuest. This was in EQ's 5th year, a bit before I quit EverQuest (1) and went to EQ2. Watching the tribute brought on a strong feeling of bittersweet nostalgia. Back in 'the day' EverQuest was sort of enchanting. It was my first real MMO. For a while everything about it was simply so wondrous. And then you learn the game mechanics and over time, you're disenchanted. Everyone is. But remembering those days of old (in the tribute and such -- which featured real game graphics/screens and a bittersweet melody), when the game felt so alive... it was a wave of emotion stronger than most any I've ever felt. [EQ2, M, 18]

After playing MMOs for about 4 years, it gets harder to pull out one time that sticks out among others. So instead of picking a specific moment, I instead pick the first few weeks I played WoW and also the first few weeks I played EverQuest Online Adventures (The MMO version of EverQuest for the PlaySation2 Console). This part of the game is my favorite. Everything is new, everything is different, everybody is new (yay for the newbie zone). I still remember my first friend, Elvennoir, my second friend Jaira, and what I had for dinner the first day I got to play EverQuest Online Adventures at my own house. [WoW, M, 17]

I think to me that first experience of leaving the Human newbie area of Northshire Abbey for the first time and going down the road to Goldshire and feeling this sense of wonder for the wide virtual world ahead of me just overwhelmed me with this sense of awe at this living breathing 3D environment. [WoW, F, 30]

As MMO players know from their experiences, gaming is much more than just about killing things. The narratives in this article highlight the social nature of play and the variety of relationships that cross over the boundary between the virtual and physical worlds.