I got an unexpected e-mail this week. A game company called Simutronics told me that their flagship product, an MMORPG called Gemstone IV was now free to play. Gone at last was the $15 monthly charge.
You probably haven’t heard of this game before. If you’re into online roleplaying games, you’d be surprised that you hadn’t heard of a game that was getting away with a premium subscription price point. But this is Throwback Thursdays after all. Maybe this game’s from before your time. What’s that, you’ve had a World of Warcraft account for a decade? It’s still before your time. Because Gemstone IV first showed up in 1987. We’re talking about a MUD.
The past few weeks in the gaming industry have been, for lack of a better word, bleak, in regards to how we treat each other. Game developers, journalists, and enthusiasts have been fighting about how said relationships should be functioning, with distrust and anger running high. At the tip of this iceberg is the continued (and escalated) harrassment towards Feminist Frequency creator Anita Sarkeesian and game developer Zoe Quinn, among many other female members of the community. With this flood of toxic behavior, it’s been hard to remember all the good that the medium can actually do. I love video games. Games can provide enjoyment, they can be an escape, they can teach, and they can give you access to a set of ideas that you might not have had a chance to experience firsthand. It is for this reason I want to highlight the game Depression Quest, written by Zoe Quinn and Patrick Lindsey.