This was originally a blog, and for me, blogs are written for my own benefit. I write them so that years down the road, I can look back and remember what once was. Fair warning, it is fairly long. Closing is still a month away, and we can never count out the possibility of VMK remaining open. But hanging out last night with some friends, talking about the closing, I started thinking last night and just decided to write this all out now. I will continue to play as I always have. I still have hope to get a full lanyard of 5* infernos. I still have hope to win the Best Guest Room Award. And I still have hope to break those Jungle Cruise score records. So I'll still be around, the same old LDE as always. I just wanted to share my thoughts while they were still fresh.
I was at Disneyland with a few friends and we had just finished lunch. None of us were really in the mood to ride anything, and were especially not in the mood to wait in any hour long lines. So one of my friends, Joe, suggested we go to Innoventions. There was this online Disney game he had just started playing, thanks to his girlfriend, that he wanted to check on. And apparently they had some machines to play the game in Innoventions. So in we went. I sat there watching him for a bit, but watching was kind of boring. So I turned to the machine I was leaning on and decided to see what this was about. Joe's cup of tea was fighting games, and this did NOT look like a fighting game. LOL! So there I was creating a character. I had no idea what I was doing. I just left it as a boy and named him after my ex (still don't know to this day why I did that). And so YellowChimpJay was born. My first VMK character.
Over the next couple of weeks, Joe ran me through the basics of the game. He showed me the ins and outs of the kingdom. He taught me how to play Haunted Mansion and Fireworks. I quickly picked up and thoroughly enjoyed the game. I loved the concept of recreating Disney and its properties in a virtual world. But this avatar wasn't me. So 3 weeks after creating YCJ, I created LittleDragonErin.
I've made a name for myself in local arcades for both NeoGeo games and DDR. I'm one of those few girls who can play video games without the button mashing. I've helped write up FAQs for games with several friends. So I've had my moments of fame in the gaming industry. But going into VMK, I had no idea what LDE would become.
One of the first things I learned about on VMK was Dancing Inferno Magic. I believe it was my 3rd day playing and I ran across this girl who was doing the magic in Central Plaza. I asked Joe what that was and that I wanted one. Being a dancer and the fire dance being my favorite...it was only natural that I would want a Dancing Inferno Magic Pin. But then he told me how "rare" it was and that was my introduction into the trading world.
For the first 6 months of my VMK life, if I wasn't in a mini-game or in line for a staff room to win the pin, I was in trade rooms. I had a basic knowledge of what I was doing. I got a pretty decent offer going (what at the time would be about 3/4 of the worth of Inferno)...and then I learned the hard lesson of the scam. Luckily, I had other real life friends playing as well. And they all pitched in to help me rebuild my inventory. In the end, I had rooms full of stuff. I had enough to offer for 5 Infernos.
Sadly most of my friends lost interest. They moved on to other things. But it didn't matter much to me, since I would see them every other day anyway. I tried out my offers but had no takers. I continued to try and win them in staff events, but no luck. I would never walk out empty-handed...but then I would never win Inferno either.
In between times, I found myself building my credits through Mansion and Fireworks. My earliest memory of Mansion had me up against a Community Leader and a Staff member. At the time, I didn't know either from a regular player. Joe had taught me well, and I won with ease. They were both quite impressed, as they said so when we found ourselves back in a crowded lobby. A scene that would first put my name in the spotlight. For the next couple weeks, nobody wanted to play me, as I was "too good" for them. So my attention shifted to Fireworks.
It took me a while to get the hang of the game. But with advice from WDWTigger and NaviMap, I was able to improve my game enough to start winning those Fireworks Magic Pins. After a few more weeks, I was winning them so often, I started giving them away to random people in the lobby who would cry about trying so hard and not being able to reach the score. Little did I know, I would run into many of them later down the road, and we would become great friends. Again, my name was in the spotlight.
Then, the promotion that would change LDE's VMK life forever...the Stitch Hat. If I was to choose the top 5 Disney characters, Stitch would be one of them. And the Stitch Hat they had made in the parks was one of my favorite items ever made by Disney. The fact that they brought it into VMK...it was a definite must have. And so I booked the trip the first moment I could. I was able to have it the first day it was available to the public...1 of about 10 people.
Now, I had a habit of walking around the kingdom, rather than using the map to jump from place to place. Little did I know what kind of reaction wearing that little blue hat would get. I would get 10+ trade windows popping up on my screen. I would find 10+ friend requests. And I would be swarmed with questions about the hat. For every room I entered. At first it was kind of funny. I remember even being in VMK_Flamingo's room and people were asking me to take pictures with them but not her. I was shocked. I did not expect this kind of a reaction.
After a while, it got kind of tedious. I was sick of answering the same questions over and over. And so I needed a place to escape. My routine of walking through ended and I started using the instances to find the empty rooms. Luckily Joe had come across a great group of people who were gracious enough to "hide" me when I was tired of answering the usual Stitch questions. This became my first VMK family.
A month or so later, I finally accomplished my first goal. I traded for my first Inferno. I was so excited. So I went to one of my other rooms and started to take that offer apart. As I was doing so, another kid walked in and said he'd take my offer. O_o So an hour after my first inferno, I got a second. I thought it was just dumb luck. But what if...? So I went to my third room and sat there for a while. Sure enough, within ten minutes I had another taker. It took me 4 months from the time I built my offer until I finally got my first inferno. But within 1 hour and 10 minutes, I had gotten 3 infernos. Something that seemed like an impossible task for many.
Over the next few months, I was able to get a full lanyard of infernos. And LDE's fame was solidified. I moved on to trade for the green flips and green baggy pants. LittleDragonErin and "rare" became synonymous. I've had this kind of gaming fame before, and I knew what came with it. Aside from all the people saying that they looked up to me, or admired me, I got the hate mails from the usual jealous players who pop up with this kind of fame. I had threats of being reported. I had the attempted mud slinging. But I didn't care about them. They annoyed me, but it was still just a game. And I moved on with it.
Just when I thought everything had settled...I became a Community Leader. And everything got crazy again. But it was mostly the haters who reared their ugly heads the highest. It went from typical hate mail to a serious threat. Suddenly they were digging into my personal life to find some kind of dirt they could send in to get me banned. I wasn't playing around anymore. This was no longer just a game. I took down my MySpace, Xanga, and personal site. I changed my e-mail addresses and passwords. And deleted anything tying my personal life to VMK. I had dealt with a similar situation before and these TEENAGERS had no idea what kind of hornet's nest they stirred up with me. Their plan backfired and they found themselves as the ones in trouble. And not just in VMK. They had crossed the line.
After that was resolved, life continued. I won a Best Quest Award, was a runner up in the Space Ride Competition, and began building a collection of VMK items. My latest goal was to obtain every single item ever created in VMK. Our lanyards had expanded, and I now had over 30 infernos. I also had the green midriff shirt the staff used to wear in my sights. That shirt and the Best Guest Room Award were the 2 things that kept eluding me.
For the next couple months, I started to understand the Jungle Cruise game. With the help of Patti and CL_DocHT, I found myself at the top of the list. I kept pushing myself in that game, trying to find a way to reach those All-Time Top Scores. I came close, but then the game changed. And I had to start over. I was still at the top, but far from those seemingly unreachable scores.
Then Dreams month came. And it brought with it a new level of craziness in my VMK life. I had 2 things that people constantly asked to see. A room full of 53 red crates. And the yellow travel box. It didn't even register that the room they were both in was titled "Dreams." I simply went in there to show somebody the crates and box. Almost immediately my room was full. Then after 30 minutes, somebody told me to look at the Popular Guest Room list. My jaw dropped. I had a queue of 134 people and was at the top of the list. The title drew them in, but the fact that I entertained my guests with jokes and songs, an alternative to trying to stalk the staff giving away the Dreams prizes, kept them there. An hour later, I had a queue of 200+. I would leave at about noon and not get back home until long after VMK closed. On several fan sites, I had PMs waiting for me telling me at one my point my queue was 300+. And when VMK closed I still had a 100+ queue. The months prior, staff events had been mediocre. People just weren't interested because the prizes just weren't exciting. I had done something they hadn't done for months.
After Dreams month, I slowly became bored with VMK. I seemed to have reached the highest scores I could get on Jungle Cruise. Inferno had lost its appeal, being now released through Disney Movie Rewards. I had traded for everything I could have. And Best Guest Room seemed to be something I would never get.
I moved over to Pirates Online, only coming back to VMK every now and then to keep in touch with friends.
Then strangely enough I began to miss it. I went back on and started playing Jungle Cruise. After a couple days, I suddenly surprised myself. I hit a score points away from the lowest score on the all time list. I was shocked. It was possible. And suddenly I had a goal to work for again. After a week or 2, I pulled off another seemingly impossible task. I found my name on the All Top Top Scores List in Jungle Cruise. Something nobody had done since 2005.
Over the next couple months I would dance back and forth between VMK and POTCO. I was excited for several friends winning best guest room. I made more friends. And I worked for a new goal of a full lanyard of 5* Infernos.
The last couple weeks have been frustrating however. Realizing that the elusive BGR Award was probably never going to happen. The release of several items I held dear. And the annoyance of the way management was handling certain events.
The news yesterday of VMK closing it's virtual gates in about a month was half expected and half a surprise. I had always hoped it would be open long after I had moved on. But at the same time, I knew it was never planned to be a long term game. I was not saddened. Nor was I upset. Friends have always been the biggest part of the game for me. I've built many friendships that I've treasured over the last 3 or so years. And many of those friendships have extended beyond the game. Many of you I can still get in touch with when those gates close. What I will miss is seeing the avatar I so very much associate with you. I will miss the inside jokes that can only happen in the game. I will miss dictionary dancing to tell you about life. I will miss the craziness and fun we have within the game.
When I first started, I could never have imagined the popularity I would achieve. Nor could I have imagined the many friends I would make. Many of you have supported me over the years in my trades, the mini-games, questing, and building of rooms. I've tried my best to support all my friends in return in all their efforts. I've tried my best to be there to laugh or cry. It was an escape for many of us from life. And a place to be who we are and more.
Every good thing must come to an end. And we move on to bigger and better things. Most of this was written just to summarize a time in my life which I can later look back on and remember. And the thing I will most remember about VMK are the friends. You made this game what it is. You touched my life through what we shared. And that is something I will remember always.
HOST_Lily, VMK_Eagle, HOST_Phinny, VMK_Red, VMK_Mocha, VMK_Bingo, VMK_Willa, VMK_Bubbles, HOST_Hula and all the rest of the staff: Thanks for everything you've done. It was an honor to have all of you as moderators in this game and you did an excellent job. I'm glad to have met many of you. You have been the friendliest, most helpful and MOST ENTERTAINING group of moderators I've ever meet. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Chescat, Nachocat, Figgiefig, WDWFanaticD, Dino_Fan, AvalancheFan, MissBrittanyDoll, BlueGenieAce, Snarky, SparkleMeTink, TinkCollector, Patti, varcity, MamaCita and the rest of the Intercot gang: You were my first VMK family. I'm so glad Monkey brought me to you, hiding me from the VMK papparazzi. I'm glad many of us are still together in POTCO. For the rest that are not, however, I will miss catching up with you in VMK. Thanks for everything you have all done for me over the years. A more helpful and open group of people, I have never met. HUGS to all of you!
Xiris, CptnRuthless, NickyBeth, Jazzymine, MainStreetMaggie, BlueSorcerer, Spacexalp, MagicStarPower, SugarBeBe, WackyJack, DrKermit, KuyaJeff, Becky, Story, Conscious, Choco_cooky, E-Ticket and the rest of the VMKMagic family: You brought me onto your staff and have been a huge support in many of my endeavors in the game. I've been happy to have been a part of everything VMKM has done. It was an honor working with all of you, and even though VMKM's future is still up in the air, I would be honored to continue should we decide to.
BigPigletFan, Cyre, Midien, SweetPeaRules, EvilQueenRocks, Mihawk, Skateeyy, Masterpiece, Thecoolstaw, Summer, Yoyo, and the rest of the MiceChat family: You are the only papparazzi I will tolertate. LOL! Your stocking antics have kept me enterained over the years. Many of you have been a HUGE HUGE support in my attempts at the BGR Awards. I can't thank you all enough for everything you've done. It's been great sharing all these wonderful times with all of you. Many many hugs to all of you!
Stilgar, LadyVader, MickeyBeast, Sr.Penguin, urakan, TheMetal, DotRocks, Spockman, KingGolden and the rest of my VMKLand family: Most of you have moved over to POTCO alongside me and I'm glad we're keeping the magic alive together there. For the few that have not, I'm sad not having an online avatar to associate with you any longer. I've enjoyed sharing my tips and guides with many of you and have been fortunate that they've been useful. I'm glad to have met all of you and hope to continue our friendships beyond the game.
ForeverWDW, Aengus, Jasonpwns, GoofyGeggy and the rest of the Dis'ers: I've always enjoyed reading those very "animated" discussions about VMK. And the random fun with staff has always kept me laughing at night after VMK closes. I'll definitely miss those kinds of moments.
To all my other VMK friends: Please don't be offended if I didn't call you each out by name. There are so many of you, I'm sure even if I checked a million times over, I'd miss one. I'm so glad to have met all of you. The memories we shared will definitely remembered. VMK has been a good portion of my life the last few years. I've spent many hours of my free time in the game. But I've done it because of all of you. If it wasn't for the relationships I've enjoyed within the game, I wouldn't have spent as much time as I've had there. Thanks for everything!
This has been a reflection of the last 3 years of this game. What I've experiences from the beginning until now. There's still a small bit of hope in me that they will continue the game further. But I've been around long enough to know the realities of it all. There's many more events that have taken place that I could point out...from sitting through Lily's makeovers, to hanging with Phinny in her event rooms to questing to ride event building...but I'm going to save those for another blog. For now, this is what I see when I look back at it all. And here's hoping there's many more years of similar situations to look forward to.
Love and hugs to everybody who's been apart of my VMK experience!