It was a dark and stormy night…
Well it wasn’t stormy so much as foggy.
And I guess 5 am isn’t really considered ‘night’.
But it WAS dark.
And we had never met any of the people who were hopefully in the Florida house we had pulled up to in my little red civic.
My husband and I actually considered sleeping in the car for a couple of hours before knocking on the door. It would be horrible to knock on the wrong door.
We eventually talked ourselves into getting out of the car and knocking on the door. After a few minutes, a sleepy looking dude shuffled to the door wrapped in a poofy blanket. We muttered a nervous greeting that included out names, and were rewarded with some grunting, nodding, and pointing in the general direction of the couch as the blanket monster opened the door and let us in. He closed the door and shuffled away, leaving us to find some chair cushions on the floor and some blankets. We were tired enough to settle down quickly to the sound of another person’s snoring.
I’m not sure if we knew it immediately the next day upon waking, or even by the end of our first Orkfest weekend, but we had just participated in something powerful and lasting.
That first foray into Orkfest for Jesse and I was about 12 years ago. Orkfest has grown and changed in a lot of ways over those years, but the important stuff has remained:
These are some of the best people I’ve ever met. Will ever meet. Ever.
So the next logical question is, of course, how did we meet?
Granted, I don’t know the whole story, as I was not an “original” guild member, but I can tell my story. It all started while I was in college, first started dating my husband. He was always playing a computer game called Everquest, which I couldn’t understand for the life of me, despite growing up playing and loving video games. It wasn’t too tough for him to convince me to give the game a shot, but I did not expect how much of an impact it would have on me.
Everquest (EQ) was my first MMORPG – for you non-gamers that stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. It was one of the first in the genre. Players created a character with a name and a class (such as warrior, mage, enchanter, etc) and a deity, and explored the virtual world alongside other players, interacting via text chatting.
In EQ, Jesse was already a member of a guild. My best definition of ‘guild’ is a group of players who share similar values, though in game it mostly amounts to a guild chat channel and people to explore and quest with. Jesse joined the guild because his brother was in it, and I joined because Jesse was in it. There was an introductory guild night and everything. Lots of Monty Python jokes and many mob trains and deaths later, I was hooked.
The guild members had been getting together for a long weekend meetup for a couple years, and invited us to the next one. Which is how we wound up in that epic early morning encounter with the Blanket Monster of Doom (also known as Charles, shown below in a piratey picture from this year).
Since that first one, we have returned every year. New folks joined, generally in-game friends first though sometimes family members. All of us are nerds and geeks with our own quirks; good people; friends; some are parents; we live scattered across the country; we’re Trekkies and Star Wars fans; avid readers; the list could go on. Each year we gather and talk, hug, eat, drink, game, and hang out.
Our first Orkfest was 7-8 people I think. A couple have fallen off the radar, but most are still around. At this point, there are around 30ish of us, though typically only 20ish make it to the yearly event. This year we rented a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and had a pirate themed day (Talk Like a Pirate AGAIN Day). Here we are all rowdy because as usual, the rum is gone:
Okay, my Orkfest Origins story is over. I’ll tell you more about what we did during the week in my next post! 🙂