I’m going to miss A Casual Stroll to Mordor. A lot.
I started gaming as a kid, playing Pong, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong (on a Commodore 64 no less!), and no one had a problem with that. When my parents bought our first computer, an Apple IIe (if memory serves), I wrote my own little programs to have fun with as we didn’t have any computer games and I not only had a blast with them, everyone looked up to me and praised me for what I could do. It was when we bought our first Nintendo console and I started playing Mario and Duck Hunt that I felt the first shaming. By then I was a mom and what mother actually plays games? I had a neighbor yell at me that I needed to grow up and stop playing kid games. My own mother once asked me how much of my life had I wasted playing stupid games.
I stopped talking about the games I was playing and although I was the ‘cool Mom’ my kids friends looked up to, I went out of my way to keep that part of my life contained to my living room. I felt ‘ashamed’ in some ways even though I didn’t feel I was doing anything to feel ashamed of, if that makes sense. I didn’t feel I fit in with most people because I didn’t know any gamers outside of my little brother, my kids and their friends. The Sims community on Usenet started changing that for me as I was part of a big group of gamers and we revelled in sharing the crazy shenanigans and stories of our sims with each other. The Toontown test server, There and the people I beta tested LotRO with … bonds were formed and communities of real life gamers thrived because we were playing together and sharing together.
That’s what made CSTM so epic for me. Merric and Goldenstar built a community, bridging the gap between the servers and uniting us as one. One community, one family. I’ve never felt as connected and a part of something before, something so great and awesome and so much bigger than me. They changed the way I played LotRO. They literally turned my game from pixels on my screen to feels in my heart. Hearing about Goldenstar’s latest adventures, Merric and his many alts, listening to Baby Hobbit when she wanted to ‘podcast’, stories from the community, THE BAT THAT WAS IN THEIR HOUSE, oh my goodness, I could go on and on! There is just so much that I’m going to miss, I don’t even.
What I’m going to miss the most, however, is the direct interaction with the community, us gathered in one place while we listened to the show live. My life has gotten so busy I didn’t get to attend the live shows nearly as much as I wanted but when I did, oh, it was magic. I can honestly say I love these people, feel as though they are extended family. Merric and Goldenstar and everyone in the chat room, I’m really going to miss that. Them.
The Roundtables changed the way I played my Captain. I not only learned to call it ‘poop’ but taught others, through example, to instruct folks not to stand in the poop when I was teaching groups the ins and outs of raiding. My kids recognize Baby Hobbit on the sound cloud things when I’m listening to them. Mike, my husband, was shocked to see a picture of Merric the other day and told me that when I said he’d lost a lot of weight, I didn’t emphasis it enough. We both agreed that we’re so proud of Merric! He also told me to tell Goldenstar they should get a nail gun when they were working on their roof, something I forgot about until someone mentioned nail guns last night. My whole family knows exactly who I’m talking about when I reference Merric, Goldenstar or Baby Hobbit. If I say, “Merric” or “Goldenstar” they immediately say, “Baby Hobbit’s parents”. I guess I talk about them a lot.
Oh, and the Rohan shirt I won from them during The Fellowship Walk last year? I still have the mailing envelope it came in. It’s safely tucked away in my desk drawer and I keep it only because it came from my favorite Hobbits. If that makes me a creepy obsessed whatever, I’m ok with that.
CSTM has been such a HUGE part of my online gaming life and I do feel a big loss but I’m happy for them, too. I honestly don’t know how on earth they kept the site and podcast going so long! Such a tremendous time commitment, just crazy thinking about it. I hope the community can get together and pull off The Fellowship Walk this year. I’d be happy to volunteer to help out in whatever way I can. Can’t get a more shining example of the community CSTM built than that! If you weren’t able to listen to the last episode of CSTM’s podcast live, episode 200, you should download it once it’s available on the site. Lot of laughs, lot of tears and another great example of the community. Think it’s 5+ hours but it’s full of what Merric and Goldenstar did best … it’s all about the family feel and community of CSTM and at times, it felt like a giant group hug.
A hug I’ll cherish for life.
I know this post is choppy and doesn’t flow very well. It was super hard to write and I’ve stopped and started, butchered and rewritten or just started over completely a thousand times it seems. I can’t get my thoughts on CSTM to come together the way I’d like them to so I decided to just run with it. Sorry.