This Thursday night at 9:30 Eastern we’ll convene the second session of our monthly symposium (you know, a drinking party) on “Roots of Humanistic Game Criticism” inside the world of Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). Last month’s was a great success, in my opinion, despite there only being two of us actually in-game–when we get more of us there, things can only get better. Our discussion covered the lineage of the RPG, which turned out to be a necessary and fascinating precursor to the question I started with, which was “Is there something fundamentally ludic about Tolkien?” This Thursday, I’l be talking specifically about what Turbine has done with Tolkien’s narrative that makes me think that in important ways they’ve unlocked a side to his epic qualities that wasn’t immediately visible before.
As you may know, LOTRO is free-to-play (though of course there are ways to give Turbine your money if you should insist), so anyone who has a moderately capable PC and the time and patience to download the game should come along and see if the game and/or the symposium suit him or her. Of course, if you’re already a LOTRO player, it shouldn’t be a problem to pop over to Ered Luin on Windfola to check out the effete nonsense.
We’ll be on the Windfola server (called “world” in the LOTRO jargon). I will be playing on a toon (character) named Trianuil. If you haven’t played LOTRO before, you’ll have to allow ten minutes or so to get through a tutorial in which you learn to kill stuff and pick other stuff up. If you want to be with the VGHVI group, make an elf toon yourself, and join us in the elf introduction.
We’ll have discussion on Ventrilo, which is a free program that you can download and install in something like two minutes. Once you have it downloaded and installed, set up a server as follows: Name: vent108.light-speed.com; Port: 4383. Then email me at Roger Travis Jr (no spaces) at gmail dot you-know for the password, or let me know in-game via Tell on Thursday night that you need it. (Press [enter] and type “/tell Trianuil I’m with VGHVI”.)
As before, I’d also very much like to hear what others are interested in discussing, whether it’s specific to LOTRO or a more general topic in the intersection of games and the humanities.
In any case, please comment here to let us know you’ll be there, and then, in-game, /say “VGHVI” so that we know you’re with us. Our first symposium is bound to be chaotic, but once we get a core group going I’ll be able to keep track of toon-names and Vent log-ins, and this monthly conversation could become something special. Can’t wait!