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Farewell to Utopia… for now.

I’ve spent the last six months in a strange place called Utopia.

People will tell you it’s an online game where almost 1,500 teams (kingdoms) of up to 25 members (provinces) pit their warring skills against each other.

But it’s much, much more than that.

There are plenty of articles already available on the internet about Utopia ( http://games.swirve.com/utopia), so I won’t duplicate that here.

I found Utopia very addicitive because I was commited to a group of people who were also commited to me. I spent hours researching, planning, watching, fighting, because I didn’t want to let my team down. I know they probably did the same as well.

I created a character called “The Wise Lady Sohpie” – an attacking woman who rose through the ranks to become a first a Baroness, then a Viscountess in July this year. I came to love Sophie (whose name means “Wisdom”) because she reminded me of my wife Liz. Smart, strong and commited to friends. It felt a bit weird playing the part of a woman when I was a man, but I figured that this was a fantasy world, and my team mates didn’t really care what I looked like in real life. I told any of them who asked. Apart from that, I just let Sophie do her thing.

The luckiest thing was that Sophie ended up in a kingdom called “Haven’t Decided Yet”. Don’t let the name fool you – these guys are tough. Led by Wise King Roger, we won three wars this age, and three wars last age. Legend has it that in ancient days King Roger led his kingdom through a golden age where they never lost a war, and had other kingdoms fleeing in terror.

Our kingdom was blessed with some strange but fearsome creatures. I can’t mention all of them here, and I know they’ll forgive me for mentioning just a few of them. These are real people who I interacted with on an almost daily basis.

Baroness Tekeelya is a magical elf who has specialized in a life of crime. If you annoy her she can call down a storm of meteors from the sky to wreak havoc on your lands. But she can also kidnap your peasants, or rob you blind. She often gazes into her crystal ball to see things that many of her friends can not. On our Island of Mortov, there is none more honorable than she is. Honor in utopia is something that is fought hard for, and prized more highly than power or expansive lands.

The Great General Belgarion is an awesome attacking Orc who can capture land from armies much bigger than his. Many the time I’ve seen him return from battle having captured hundreds of acres. I’ve never seen him fail in an attack. Ever.

Lord Icron is a Halfling who recently decided to be a rogue. Don’t let his size fool you. Icron’s thieves are terrible. Many times they have snuck into an enemies lands at night to wipe out thousands of troops. In times of war, he spreads propaganda throughout an opposing army, demoralizing them and bringing them to their knees. He told me of his life in a previous age as an attacking Avian, and how he missed his “birdies”, but I think he made an excellent Halfling.

And Wise King Roger… Of all the people in our land, his libraries are the biggest. His armies were busy most of the age, pillaging, looting, taking land, even stealing books for his libraries. He doesn’t say much, but he knows how and when to pick a fight. Sophie was a sage like Roger, and I learned a lot from watching how Roger did things.

As a rule, I never play computer games. I spend enough time online doing my job. So this has been quite an experience for me.

But it has taken up so much of my time that I need a break from it for now.

I can’t just spend less time on it per day, because Sophie’s province wouldn’t be as strong as it deserves to be. So the Wise Noble Lady Sophie is taking a vaction for a few months.

To the wonderful people of “Haven’t Died Yet”, I love you all. Thank you for letting me be part of your kingdom. You’ve taught me a lot, and I hope that I can join you again in future.

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