Asheron's Call, first launched by Turbine in 1999, is finally shutting down its servers - and one diehard 74-year-old player reflects about his experience on video.
It may be a distant memory for many veteran PC gamers, but Asheron's Call, the MMORPG developed by Turbine and launched in 1999, was a huge deal when it first hit shelves. The game offered players a number of innovative gameplay features and was one of the first MMORPGs that successfully blended its mechanics with the ability to sustain an online community. Many of the lessons learned by Turbine in supporting Asheron's Call were implemented in Lord of the Rings Online, which, despite its failings, was another big release in its own right many years ago.
In an era of video game history where the MMORPG genre has been utterly dominated by both World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14, however, Asheron's Call has slowly become more of an oddity and less a viable business venture for Turbine. While the developer was happy to preserve the world of Asheron's Call for those who still played well beyond expectation, Turbine announced on December 20, 2016 that Asheron's Call's servers would be shut down for good on January 31, 2017. In a video released by YouTube user We Sleep Talk, a 74-year-old player of Asheron's Call reflects on his 18 years of playing the game, describing it as:
"A time that I could call my own. It [was] a great time when I had it."
While that sentiment can be heartbreaking, the gamer later explains that he has made friends from all over the world playing Asheron's Call, an appeal that has been echoed in those who have given a lot of their time to World of Warcraft over the years. The man, who is We Sleep Talk's grandfather, also shares an entertaining story about coming home drunk, playing Asheron's Call, and losing all their equipment in what we can only presume was a series of Hangover-style antics.
The video about Asheron's Call also serves as a reminder that MMORPG titles are often far more than the sum of their parts. There's a reason that World of Warcraft: Legion's sales numbers were so strong, and it isn't just that Blizzard continues to dynamically alter the world of Azeroth and add more features - it's that many gamers feel emotionally tied to the virtual worlds where they have forged very real friendships.
While it is sad to see a player so passionate about Asheron's Call be forced to stop playing, the 74-year-old man remains as dedicated to Turbine's game as ever. When asked whether or not he found any other MMORPG titles appealing, he left gamers with the kind of stubborn statement that all of us have made about our favorite titles:
"Everything else looks like crap compared to this game."
74-years-old or no, We Sleep Talk's grandfather is certainly a gamer through-and-through.