Why I Keep Playing RuneScape
I've been playing RuneScape on and off for 12 years now. It was introduced to me by my good friend at my 13th birthday party. While we were waiting around for everyone to show up before going to Dave & Buster's, he told the rest of us he wanted to show us a cool new game he had started playing.
My brother and I started our own RuneScape accounts a few weeks later.
A Brief Background of RuneScape
RuneScape, for anyone not aware, is a game by Jagex made in Java. It was made by Andrew Gower with help from his brother Paul Gower, and was originally released in a beta form in 2001.
The version I started with was RuneScape 2, which was originally released for paying members from December 1, 2003 to March 2004. Of course, this version was officially released under the name RuneScape, with the original game being rebranded as RuneScape Classic.
RuneScape has undergone quite the transformation since I first began to play it back in 2005. It's practically unrecognizable in many respects. And honestly, I can't keep up with the changes and refuse to adjust, so I stick with playing RuneScape 07, or Old School RuneScape, or whatever people are choosing to call it now.
Here's a basic history of Old School, just so there's no confusion. On February 15, 2013, Jagex put up a poll asking players whether they should open up a separate version of RuneScape from August 2007. This version was released for members on February 22, 2013 and permanently for free players on February 19, 2015.
OSRS, as it is often called, is the version of the game I keep returning to time and time again, no matter how many times I think I'm logging out for the last time. But why is that?
How I Play RuneScape
I think the answer can be found in a combination of the simplicity of several aspects of the game and the way I choose to play it. OSRS has a quest system, but I generally don't complete quests unless I'm recording for my wildly unsuccessful YouTube channel. What I prefer to do is skilling. That is, training non-combat skills.
So why skilling? Well, it's so mindless and relaxing. There's usually no fear of dying and losing items, as there would be when training combat skills or questing. I want to play games to relax, not to stress myself out.
I briefly had a friend in my freshman year of high school - I moved a few months later and we lost touch - who explained to me that she would play RuneScape to escape the stress of our magnet program after she got home, which is an idea I agreed with 100%. (Being in a magnet program in high school sucks, but that's a whole different topic.)
So back to why I keep coming back to OSRS. In addition to being mindless and relaxing, it's great for me to multitask with. The way my brain operates, I function much better when I can focus on my work while mindlessly doing something else in the background. For example, as I write this, a TV I'm not paying any significant attention to is on in front of me. I'm not watching it, but somehow having it on helps me to concentrate what I actually want to concentrate on.
My favorite skill in RuneScape is farming. That's something that confuses quite a lot of people. I remember the morning farming was released. I logged in to an excited message from the friend who introduced me to the game about how he was already level 3.
For a lot of players, the mass excitement of that morning quickly gave way to frustration because farming appeared to force you to wait to actually train it. First of all, that's not true. For most crops, you can easily pay the farmer to watch your crops and go do something else. (Currently in the game, next to each crop level requirement is the payment required, so it's even simpler than it was at the start.)
Second, I love that you have the option to sit and wait. Farming perfectly fits in with my need to have a minor distraction in order to get my work done. When I was still in high school and college, I was always training my farming while studying or doing assignments.
I Keep Getting Pulled Back In
It wasn't long after I graduated from college that I stopped playing RuneScape on my original account for what I thought was my last time. I was too busy doing freelance work to think about trying to play at the same time.
But then I started working on a YouTube channel in my spare time. It's not at all successful, but that's besides the point. I started a brand new account so I could record myself questing, which was quite the departure from how I normally play. But in between recording sessions, I skill just like I used to.
I make time to play even though I'm still busy doing freelance work, because now I've essentially convinced myself that it's work in itself. (I make basically no money on YouTube. Recording videos is nowhere near actual work. I lie to myself so I don't feel bad about taking time to play games.)
Even now, playing for YouTube, I ended up taking a long break from OSRS. I had started to think that I might have stopped playing for good again. I'm playing a lot of other games for my channel, and the way I do RuneScape videos, they take longer for me to record. They're not as efficient to make, since I don't space them in ten minute increments or so, preferring to do an entire quest within the space of one video.
But then I started applying for graduate schools. I had to write essays and study to take the GRE. So what did I decide was helpful to do while editing an essay and reading from my study guide?
I'll give you three guesses on that one.
So it seems like no matter what I do, I always end up coming back to RuneScape, or at least OSRS, as I gave up on trying to keep up with all the updates a long time ago. It's simple for me to jump back into it and plant some watermelons while I read a book or write something.
It's nostalgic too. There's something nice about having RuneScape as a near constant in my life for so long. It's been with me since I was 13 years old. And thanks to the existence of OSRS, it's stayed similar enough to the game I started playing originally that I can keep coming back to it like an old friend, like the old friend who introduced me to the game and the other old friends who I used to play it with. I made my one and only Internet friend while playing RuneScape, and I actually miss talking to him.
So I guess that's what RuneScape is to me, and why I keep coming back. It's a relaxing, safe, and friendly place for me.
As long as I don't turn on the public chat, that is.