Why I Don’t Regret Playing Ragnarok Online

Why I Don’t Regret Playing Ragnarok Online

 

Ragnarok Online

A horned demon emerges from the shadows carrying a massive scythe. In his path stands a party of battle-hungry adventurers.

The hunters strike the first blow, firing off a volley of arrows. Unfazed, the beast lunges towards them only to be blocked by a legion of knights. They quickly surround the demon but their blows only glance off its thick hide. The demon bears down on his attackers relentlessly.

Away from the melee, a wizard approaches. He casts a spell, sending sharp torrents of ice cascading into the monster’s back.

This isn’t a scene from a new Lord of the Rings movie, it’s from a game called Ragnarok Online (commonly referred to as RO), a massively multiplayer online role playing game developed by Korean company GRAVITY. At its peak during the mid-2000s, it was one of the most popular games in the country. Even today, Ragnarok Online still has a huge fan base.

I spent three years of my life, from 2005 to 2007, playing Ragnarok Online. I vanquished demons, conquered castles and discovered treasures.

I also screwed up my grades, pissed off my parents and spent an embarrassing amount of money on Level Up! prepaid cards. I finally quit Ragnarok early in 2008 partially out of disgust for the all of the time and money I sank into it. I thought I would never look back.

But the years have only reminded me of how much fun I had. Seven years later and I’m surprised by how much I miss it.

Ragnarok Online – Down the Rabbit Hole

Ragnarok Online

For a high school student facing dreary algebra lessons, RO was heaven-sent.

It was far from the perfect game. The story was a bland hodgepodge of East Asian and Scandinavian mythology. To this day, I’m still not sure what the plot was about. The grind of leveling was horrific. I spent many hours in lonely dungeons killing monsters for tiny amounts of XP.

But the massive online world of Rune-Midgard made Ragnarok worth it. Being able to play with your friends and thousands of others over the internet was new and exciting. I had played video games before, but never in a universe as big as this one.

I was what players called a “Vit Knight”, a knight whose stats were concentrated in vitality and strength. My role was to soak up the damage from monsters while my more fragile comrades set up their attacks. My avatar was built like a refrigerator. I had an HP of just a little over 20,000 and enough armor to shrug off most attacks with ease. I strutted around the world like a professional wrestler, flexing my virtual muscles and showing off for all the pretty maidens (who now that I think about it were probably men).

It felt good to be powerful, to be stronger and faster than I could ever be. That’s what video games sell you: the ability to crawl into someone else’s skin and become more than who you are. Here in RO, I could slay High Orcs en masse and brush off the blows of even the mightiest foes.

And with that feeling came the desire to constantly be better. Competition was fierce. To be on top of your game you had to put in the time. That meant long nights of training, searching for rare items and hunting bosses. It was a full-time job.

These were the days of dial-up when the internet would disconnect if someone called on the phone and you had to run to the local Ministop if your prepaid card ran out.

Lag was a major problem. A slow internet connection would literally kill you. In fact, the primary reason why I chose to play as a Vit Knight was because my internet was so slow. Even if the game lagged for 10 seconds, my character would still be alive. Spell-intensive classes such as Wizards and Priests were impossible for my spotty connection. To avoid the slowdown during peak hours, I stayed up until the wee hours of the night to take advantage of faster speeds.

But despite all the logistical challenges, I was hooked.

Ragnarok Online – Through the Looking Glass

Ragnarok Online

via ragnarok.ph

 

Rune-Midgard was a living, breathing world.

Contrary to stereotypes, the population was diverse. Young and old, rich and poor, men and women and jejemon and coño all played RO. I met lawyers, doctors, teachers and businessmen. The game crossed social and economic boundaries.

It had a complex in-game economy. The crowded streets of the capital city Prontera teemed with merchants selling everything from pets to Poring hats. I even tried my hand at selling potions only to be priced out by my more business-savvy competitors.

Just like the real world, RO had an elite upper class. Powerful guilds like Steel Wolves, Untouchables and Armada, whose names were only spoken in hushed whispers, ruled above all. They were all level 99. They owned incredibly rare items and hung out exclusively with each other. Seeing one in-game was like seeing a celebrity. Some of the elite players even had their own groupies.

And as expected, people found loopholes. “Botting” or using a third-party program to train your character or search for rare items was rampant. There was even a black market where you could buy virtual items for real money.

I enjoyed getting lost in the world. RO was strange and familiar and beautiful. Real life had homework, organic chemistry and trinomials. It was an easy choice to make.

Ragnarok Online – Brotherhood

Ragnarok Online

via hdwallpapersbase.com

 

My friends and I formed a guild we called “Foxhound” after the special forces unit in the video game series Metal Gear Solid. We had a Priest, a Wizard, four Knights, two Hunters, two Assassins, a Rogue and a Blacksmith. Joining forces, we quickly made our mark on the world.

Our first boss battle was with the Golden Thief Bug down in the sewers of Prontera. There we were, a bunch of lowly noobs taking on the insect and its minions. It took all of us that day to bring down the bug. Emboldened by this victory, we would go on to face bigger bosses such as Orc Hero, Eddga and even Baphomet himself.

We were a well-oiled machine. Each team member knew precisely what their role was. We were certain we could depend on each other. If one team member was in trouble we would rush to his defense. If someone needed a tank or a party, someone would step up. Friendships were forged in the heat of battle. In fact, many of my former guild mates are still some of my closest friends today.

Our finest moment by far was capturing an agit or castle.

I don’t remember much about that day. The lag was so bad that I didn’t know what was going on half the time. But our ambition and bloodlust helped carry us through. In the midst of the confusion, we somehow managed to break the Emperium and win the day. It was pure dumb luck and it was glorious.

The moment didn’t last long. Pretty soon another guild had wrested it from our grasp. But for a brief moment, we were kings.

Ragnarok Online – Looking Back

Ragnarok Onlinevia carcabin.com

 

I don’t have much to show for playing Ragnarok. My character has long since been lost. All the hours I spent training have gone out the window. All the glorious loot I accumulated, my Boy’s Cap, Elven Ears and +9 quadruple bloody pike now exist only as 1s and 0s on some lonely server.

But the memories and friendships remain and they are worth keeping.

I’ll never play Ragnarok again. I can no longer afford the investment of time and money that it requires. Nonetheless, I will always look back fondly to a time when things were simpler and the weight of the world didn’t seem so heavy.

A wise man once said that “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Playing the game put a smile on my face and that’s all that matters.

Why I Don’t Regret Playing Ragnarok Online

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