What was the first thought that you had when looking at WWII Online that made you want to jump-in and go for it? We all have a story that helps explain how we became quickly addicted to a game that really embodies more than just a game, but a gaming community of mature people from around the world. I’ve been reflecting lately on what were those first impressions I had when I saw the big yellow game box that caught my attention sitting on the shelf at Electronic Boutique (EB Games) back in 2002.
I remember going to EB Games often, every single time we’d go there when we went to the biggest mall around as it was a great pass time for my brother and I, as Mom went around doing her thing. We were big into console games, but I was looking for a replacement to the good’ole N64 and I really enjoyed some PC titles like “Duke Nukem” and “Age of Empires.” I was the kid who in the morning before school would turn on the History channel (back when it was good and actually taught you stuff about History, not Pawn Stars, American Pickers, etc) and my favorite thing to watch was WWII related stuff. I enjoyed it so much in fact, I got a WWII picture book (a WWII encyclopedia if you will) and would take that to school and nerd-out with a couple of friends learning about it. History was always my favorite subject, aced it every time.
My brother in fact pointed the game box to me, and I quickly moved over to check it out. I remember opening up the jewel box and the first thing I saw was a group of German soldiers standing there in a gated army base in formation, with a commander in the front. This was a defining picture for me because I have always enjoyed leadership and in other games I played (or sports) I naturally gravitated into that role and thoroughly had a good time with it.
The picture illustrated to me instantly that this game was about teamwork and working together, and wasn’t your average game. As I looked around at the other pictures, I started to recognize a couple of the vehicles and weapons being used. I flipped it around to the back where I saw a British soldier looking like a bad ass holding a Lee-Enfield, with all of the countries being represented and it continued to bring in my interest.
Admittedly at that time I did not fully understand what all of the details of the game meant on the box, that took some time playing to fully comprehend just how powerful of a game World War II Online actually was.
The first time I had spawned in to the game world, I was alone, without a lot of direction, no voice communications (Roger Wilco, almost TS2 at the time I think) and didn’t really comprehend what was happening around me. I was a Rifleman spawned in at the Andenne - Namur Forward Base, and hopped on a Panzer II C, not really sure where to go. The guy who was driving me was “Daveezee” who was the Commanding Officer of “EzCo.” Eventually he got me into the Squad and on voice comms. That was when things started to make a lot more sense to me.
He didn’t judge my lack of knowledge, claim I was a spy, and was very patient in teaching me how things were actually working. I recall the first time I had multi crewed was with another squad mate (Sockeye) in a Stuka. Equally, Sockeye was patient and excited to share the game with me.
EzCo was a Kriegsmarine (German Navy) based squad, and naturally we focused on missions relating to naval warfare. EzCo was considered a Special Operations Detachment, who was assigned to the German High Command > Kriegsmarine > Marine Infanterie Abteilung II. Our commander at the time was Fmfhmcs, and we worked closely with Flotille Heinrich who was responsible for operating the FMB’s (the only naval craft in game at that time) that would ferry us around. These were the days before mobile spawns and many of the tools that we have today in WWII Online.
I gravitated towards High Command and became a Naval Officer, Flotille Heinrich XXO, and they gave me a Rear Admiral commission. That was a big deal and I took that responsibility very seriously. Here I am, at the time 14 years old, with all of these adults actually helping to develop me into a more mature player, who were graceful and willing to work with me, at no cost or return on investment on their part. They were clear examples of a time of enthusiasm, and while the game was riddled with bugs and shortcomings, the tone and atmosphere of the community was not to attack the developers, it was rather to work with what they had and share all of the good things that this game only does.
While there has been much history sense all of that, and now I have effectively been a member of CRS (which I never thought would’ve happened in my wildest dreams, let alone be the guy leading the team) for longer than I was a player [ Player from 2002-2010, Rat from 2010-Present ].
I’m sharing my story here because it’s something I try to remind myself of the passion that drove me to this point, and the difference in the culture that I have seen occur over the years. Our culture as a community is within our hands and grasp to determine, it is a combination of individual actions that creates either an atmosphere which embraces newcomers with enthusiasm and a service to others type mentality, or not.
It is our own personal decisions that sets the tone of what kind of a gaming community we are, whether that is through our communications or actions, publicly or privately.
I’d wager to ask, what sort of community member are you? Does it differ from when you first started? Do you still hold the enthusiasm you had when you first picked up that WWII Online box, or joined the game for the first time?
18 years of WWII Online has happened because we all came together, and must continue to come together at present to ensure it’s longevity. I have said that our WWII Online community really is, second to none, I firmly believe that in my experience. I, like many of you, have dedicated a great deal of my play-time and now many years and hours of my life to working on it and ensuring its continuation. Many of you have kept your subscriptions active even when you weren’t playing because you cared that much. Many of you have stepped up to support the game financially during our calls to action, and many of you have supported fellow community members in their greatest hour of need to literally change their life circumstances for the better.
Second to none sounds pretty fair to me.
I implore all of you to continue to find the greatness in yourselves and our outstanding game / community. Create an atmosphere which embraces new people and be an inclusive leader when required. Focus on the fact that there is only one World War II Online, and all of the amazing gaming moments you’ve had are because of it. Choose to lend a hand for new players, and choose not to attack the people at CRS who are mostly volunteering now because they care about the game just as much as you do to apply their professional experience and personal free time to bettering it.
All of us at CRS are humbled by and appreciate this opportunity more than this text can properly convey. Every day I witness first hand a series of communications and actions taken by my team that shows their maximum commitment to the cause. These guys are learning, getting more efficient, and maturing as game developers. But at the heart of it all, you’ll find an avid WWII Online enthusiast, loyal to all of you, maintaining the integrity of the game’s design and pushing new doors open that were once thought closed.
Please, don’t lose sight of what we have or what we can do as a team when we work together, provide grace and understanding, and support one another.
Thanks for reading.