Well, if you’ve been following along with my blog posts from last week, you’ll know I’m during a four week series focusing on my closest friends throughout my life from childhood to present. Last week, I focused on pre-high school and high school friends. This week will be focused on my early online years and will detail my online friends from 1998-2003, which is when I was most active in the online community. This first post will focus on the friendships I made in the fan forums of Japanese console Role-Playing Games (RPGs), specifically focused on Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Lunar, and Suikoden.
First, a brief bit of history. My first encounter with the Internet was in early 1998, when I spent the night at my aunt’s house. She had AOL, and she showed me how to log onto the internet and search for things. Being a fan of RPGs, I started looking up websites about different games, eventually coming across the world of “fan-fiction,” which are stories written by fans set in a pre-existing storyline that the fan writers don’t own or have a license to write in. The first two stories I read were “Chrono Trigger: The Shadows,” by Keith Adams, and the first part (he was still writing it at the time) of “Chrono Trigger: Invasions” by Jerm. I was hooked. As a writer myself, I knew that this stuff was GOLD. In May 1998, my parents finally got the Internet at our house, and I soon found both of those stories, along with a huge collection of others at a website called “Icy Brian’s RPG Page.” I literally spent all summer that year reading fanfics, totally blown away by the authors. The website hosted both a Delphi forum (which I never really got a good grasp of), and eventually a Yahoo Club. I wanted to participate in both; however, I was pretty shy in high school, and wasn’t fully comfortable jumping in to a community quite yet. I also (at that time) was pretty limited in the number of RPGs that I had played. As luck would have it, in November of that year Icy founded a new Yahoo Club based on fanfiction, and I eventually joined and started posting shortly thereafter. What followed was my becoming a part of a fantastic community that truly served as my introduction to the online world of community, and influenced a lot of my online interactions even today.
I should point out that out of all of my lists of friends, this list is the one that I currently have the least amount of contacts with, as some of these people have apparently dropped off the face of the earth. If, however, anyone on this list happens to read this that I haven’t talked to recently, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a friend request at http://www.facebook.com/jdhjanus
Before I get started talking about my awesome friends from Icy’s community, I first wanted to give a shoutout to Icy Brian. Although I never got to chat with him that much back in the day (he was incredibly busy even then), his website and Yahoo clubs served as an introduction to me (and probably many others) to the online community, and his dedication to the community and the preserving of all the incredible fanfics on his site was outstanding (at the time, I’m pretty sure his website was THE main site for RPG fanfics). He’s an awesome guy, and I’m incredibly grateful to him for creating such an awesome community that I could call my first online friends. Icy, thank you so much for your dedication!!!
1. Wandering Prophet
Wandering Prophet, or WP as we usually called him, was my very first online friend ever. This guy is AWESOME! 🙂 He was one of the first people to introduce to me a lot of the additional features of both Yahoo Messenger and ICQ, and we chatted quite a bit in those early years. WP always had a good sense of humor and an incredible maturity about him (I feel in some ways he was even more mature than I was, even though he’s younger than I am). I greatly respected him as a friend and cohort, as we would often chat about vary different topics. He and Ice Man Ash (below) were the two most influential people in convincing me to get a Playstation 1. As a result, he was also the most influential person in introducing me to my all-time favorite video game: Suikoden. We sadly lost touch as I became too busy to stay active in the RPG forums in the early 2000’s, but we’ve reconnected with Facebook, and I’m glad to be able to chat with him again.
The second guy that I started chatting with went by the screenname Ice_Man_Ash, although we just called him Ash. Ash was a really cool guy, who actually sent me my very first MP3 and really got me into listening to video game soundtrack music. We chatted quite a bit, and I still remember him telling us a story where he was chatting with this girl that he met at some store, and in the midst of the conversation actually said “LOL.” The girl thought it was a bit strange, and he said he felt like an idiot when he did that. He also was the first person I ever showed the fanfic I began writing, and provided some very useful feedback (although I ultimately abandoned the project due to not having the time). As he got busier in high school, we didn’t get to chat as much, and he eventually graduated and went to college. He’s now living abroad in Japan (which is SO awesome…I’ve always wanted to visit Japan). He has a Facebook account, but it appears he hasn’t touched it in a couple of months, as there don’t seem to be any recent updates. Still, Ash is an awesome guy and was a great friend.
Looking back, I still find my friendship with Minmei rather odd. As I’ve said before, I was this annoying, fairly immature teenager who was completely open about personal information if anyone asked. Minmei was none of the above. She was older than the rest of our group, and much more mature. Sadly, I think I REALLY annoyed her, as she was very private about her personal information (seriously…besides the fact that she is 3 years older than I am and lived somewhere in the Midwest back then…that’s all I know about her…and even then that could have all been a fabrication). Nevertheless, she somehow maintained putting up with a lot of us annoying teenagers, and she ended up becoming one of the more influential members of Icy Brian’s community (along with WP above). I still remember that she actually mentioned me in the thanks at the end of one of her fanfics, which although doesn’t seem like much, meant a lot to me. As with almost everyone else on this list, I lost contact with her around 2000-2001, and sadly, I have no idea how to contact her now, or even if she’s still around. Minmei, if you ever get a chance to read this, I want to thank you for being my friend and apologize for my immaturity and pushiness.
Falcon was the one person from the RPG boards that I kept in consistent contact with since we’ve met. This is mainly due to the fact that he is the first online friend that I ever actually met in person. My dad and I travelled to Iowa to visit him in the summer of 1999, and although it was kind of scary, we had talked on the phone, and our parents had talked to one another, so it wasn’t so bad meeting a complete stranger (but really, as much as we had chatted online by that point, we were pretty close friends). This started a friendship that had us travelling back and forth, as he visited my home in Arkansas and I visited him again after my freshman year of college. Falcon is a loyal, truthful, and awesome guy, who is extremely intelligent and very open and honest with his opinions (although that has sometimes in the past gotten him into trouble). Our friendship was so close that he actually was one of my groomsmen in my wedding. He has since gone on and got his PhD, which further proves he’s WAY smarter than I am, and although we don’t get to chat as frequently as we once did, he always has a welcome place in my family.
5. Lord Robo
Lord Robo was another regular at the Fanfic Club, both being an outstanding writer as well as a good friend. He was a huge fan of the character “Q” from Star Trek (he probably would have gotten along with Josh from my first post), and as such would often role play in a similar haughty way that the character Q expressed himself. Nevertheless, as you actually chatted with him, you soon realized that he was a very cool guy, with lots of interests and always willing to chat when available. He was pretty busy, but we started chatting quite a bit when he invited me (and several others of our friends) to a Star Trek fan club called Deja Q that he ran. It was a cool club, and he did me a huge honor by making me a founder (the equivalent of a moderator) for the first time ever! It was a huge honor. Sadly, he went off to college and we lost touch. I’ve tried searching for him, as I *think* I remember his real name; however, I’m not 100 percent certain, and it’s unfortunately common enough that I have yet to for sure find him on Facebook. I do hope to chat with him again, though. Lord Robo, if you get a chance to read this, look me up!!
YoshiGeno was a much quieter guy in our group of friends. He was really smart and fun to chat with, but he wasn’t ridiculously outgoing. Nevertheless, I would chat with him fairly frequently on ICQ, and he and I became close friends due to our similar personalities, as well as our similar likes and interests. He actually sent me a letter from Costa Rica, where he lived at the time with his school picture and everything! (I still have that picture and letter too!) He went through some hard times though, and sadly he ended up having a falling out from several people in Icy’s club. The whole debacle left a bad taste in my own mouth and further highlighted some dissatisfactions (that were completely unrelated and, looking back, ridiculously petty) that I felt towards some people in the group, leading me to leave the groups as well (although I still kept in contact with my close friends on this list through Messengers). I was fortunate to find YoshiGeno again recently on ICQ, and it’s been great to chat with him once again. YoshiGeno is a dedicated and true friend, whom I have been blessed to know for several years, and I’m thankful to be in my life once again. 🙂
Mercutio started posting in the group a few months after I did, and he started coming to the chats and we ended up exchanging Messenger information. Mercutio was an awesome guy who was generally on and always willing to chat. Even after I got really busy, he always made a point to chat with me, and I truly valued him as one of my closest online friends. When I got involved in the Sierra community, Merc was one of the few people who actually ended up crossing over into that group of friends, in the sense that he would often chat with several of my Sierra friends as well. I actually stayed somewhat in contact with him throughout college, although as with all my online friends, I stopped chatting as school and life stepped in and absorbed more of my free time. I did find him on Facebook shortly after I got the program in 2005, but he has since deleted his account, so I have no idea how to get in contact with him nowadays. As with so many other people on this list, Merc, if you get a chance to read this message, please look me up!!
Kipli is unique in the sense that she was not an RPG fan, but rather a Star Trek fan. I met her through Lord Robo’s Deja Q club, and she ended up becoming a founder along with me and Robo. Kipli was a really cool person to talk to, who loved to roleplay in various Star Trek RPG clubs (and she eventually got me involved, which will lead to some of the friends in my next installment). Like Mercutio, she sort of bridged the gap in my friendships between my RPG and Sierra days, and was always willing to chat about whatever was on my mind. She was extremely friendly and open about all sorts of things, and we had lots of different deep conversations. Yet she always knew how to lighten things up and had a fantastic sense of humor. Although I do know her name, it’s a fairly common one (assuming she hasn’t gotten married), and finding her on Facebook has been unsuccessful. Kipli, if you get a chance to read this message, you’re awesome!!!
Samus was another fanfic writer who often would come and visit in Icy Brian’s chat rooms and Yahoo clubs. She was a big fan of Ninja Turtles and Gargoyles, as I recall (and obviously Metroid, from her screenname – needless to say – she has OUTSTANDING taste! 😀 ) She also wrote one of the most convoluted and yet most awesome Chrono Trigger short stories ever, about the character Lucca experiencing a reality warp that takes her through all of the games numerous endings. As I writer, she inspired me to be willing to take risks, and she opened my mind to consider numerous different possibilities in writing that I had never thought about before. Plus, I was blessed that she always chatted with me when she was available, which was really awesome, as I greatly admired her (and she was a fairly busy person herself). We have luckily reconnected on Facebook and Twitter, and I’m glad to have another good friend around!
Greg was the master of Greg’s Game Page, a fantastic website that dealt with a lot of different RPGs back in the day. He was a good friend of Ash’s, and we met through him. Greg and I chatted quite a bit in the olden days, to the point that he even listed me in his thanks for his Chocobo Racing FAQ that he wrote many years ago (I still remember when he linked that FAQ to me…It had been a long and difficult day, and that totally cheered me up!) I didn’t get to chat with him as often as I would have liked, and I eventually lost contact with him. I *believe* I’ve found him on Twitter and Facebook, but he hasn’t responded to my messages, so it’s possible that I’ve completely missed the boat on this one. Hopefully not, though. Greg, if you get a chance to read this post, I just want to say thank you SO much for being such an awesome friend!! I hope that we get to reconnect soon!!
I also wanted to a shoutout to another RPG friend that I haven’t talked to in years, but one I rather enjoyed chatting with. His name is RedGuardian, and that’s about all I know about him. He was a very talented writer and a good friend. He actually helped critique some of my writing and was always very encouraging to me as a friend, and for that I’m eternally grateful. RedGuardian, I hope that I get to chat with you again someday! You’re incredible!!!