URU Live

Musings on a world gone

by gatorlaw


It seems odd to me – but twice now in my miniscule time on this big blue orb, it is a “mere computer game” that has caused me to dig deep into my thoughts.

In this moment, at this time – events have shattered many. Violence seems everywhere. Differences between people, between factions, between families – between us and them. It resonates through out all that I seem to touch, read and even breathe, on a consuming level. I am one of those, who revels in the mundane, in the simple touches – the subtle sight that somehow breaks through that barrier we erect to shield ourselves from the pushes and shoves of the world at large.

It is in the surprise of a song I had long forgotten, but loved at one time, dancing through my speakers – driving along a quiet road in the fading light. It is in looking up and seeing a child shyly touch their parent’s arm, and seeing that parent softly pull them a little closer as they walk through a parking lot. It is private and small, but it speaks volumes and gives my heart a lift.

Which brings me to URU Live.

I passed through the beta, at heart, a solitary gamer. Though the testing, for a variety of reasons, was done all online, I was slow to enter into much contact with others. Though many who know me – perhaps view me as outgoing, somewhat fey and even boisterous. With things that matter, with personal discoveries – I am shy and concealing. To reveal what truly matters is the biggest risk there is. Perhaps because I traveled through URU in a replicant form, I intuitively behaved truer to myself. I pulled myself to join a guild. I thought this would hasten my involvement. Even then, though I was a member of a Guild whose charter task was to greet new explorers and aid them in their adventures, a shyness prevented me from frequent postings and camaraderie. Instead, I found myself reverting to type and acting as a roving helper. I would find myself walking along a ledge and see a person calling out for help with something in another age and chat them through. This one on one quiet contact suited me well. I was also not one who ever gravitated to the “hoods” which grew by leaps and bounds once URU went officially live. In fact, the nomenclature of live, truly didn’t grab me until shortly after the release, when I ventured back to the city..

Ahhh here was something I had not anticipated and reveled in. I ran everywhere. Why – not really sure, maybe if I ran fast enough I could observe without chatting. But the small, the normal, all the little things that reminded me of the world – the part that I love was there. People chatting in alley-ways. Others walking or running to some destination all their own. Sometimes I would just sit and watch the URU world go on around me. A swirl of movement and passing faces. A cacophony of sound. URU life.

I wasn’t even really interested in finding the markers that appeared, though I did get the first 15 so I could go and sit by the great zero – a marvel of crystal, light and energy. I suppose like many wanderers do, I felt that there was plenty of time to get into quests, to join in the game. But as with life, things are not always certain or assured. Not time, not tasks – not even worlds.

But here is the rub. URU, virtual and hand crafted though it was – was not just a world of life – it was a world apart. I did venture into the city late and engage in group encounters, as I became more at peace with the city and my place there. There was a commonality within people that was expressed in a wonderful engaging way. Here all their happy pure hearted parts came out to play. Hide and Seek. Storming barricades – well like when we were kids – just because they were there. If there was nothing seemingly to do, we amused ourselves, People concocted games to play, things to do. Maybe we could climb the tent rope and sit up on the tent. Maybe if we all jumped up and down at the same time – we would break the world. I have not known such pure pleasure in such a long time. There were probably conflicts somewhere, but the whole time I romped around the place – I saw none. No fighting, no disdain, no jaded sense of what “grown ups are supposed to do. Who hasn’t looked up at a nice low branch and thought – Wouldn’t it be nice to just see if I can still climb up there and swing through the branches. But our stature in the world or status as “all grown up now” stops our thoughts short and we return to responsibilities. Not so in URU. It was as if we could shed our skins and play again.

Do you remember what that felt like? To play? To spend a whole day walking around and do nothing more important than lie in the grass and watch the clouds, or build a stick dam across a stream and see if you could finally fill a jar with tad poles? Or swing so high, it felt like you were in the sky? In URU Live, in that world apart. I could just be, run, listen, spin in circles, whatever chanced into my mind and that was ok. Everyone else was doing the same. In URU you could just play. It was so wonderful.

Then, came the unexpected. A scant few months from release of Prime, URU Live was to be quieted, turned off, shut down. Her lights turned off, linking books shelved, nexus points removed, the great zero turning in a city gone to silence.

I had viewed my involvement in URU as somewhat passive, that I was not that deeply immersed. But as with many things we encounter, the threat of sudden loss – caused me to recognize how entangled in this world apart I had become. I recalled a chorus from a song, “I came to recognize, that I don’t know how to let you go”.  At that moment I felt a true sense of loss wash over me. So, I pocketed my awareness and took it to URU. I resolved not to waste one moment. It has been quite some time, when I threw all my responsibilities to the wind and with total self-interest rambled in an adventure of my own choosing. I didn’t view this as obsessive, but a practical embrace of getting the most out of my world apart while it was still here.  

What a wondrous 4 days. It was a frenzy of people, coming and going – gathering in groups, helping each other finish some last quest, even sitting at midnight atop the Grand staircase one night.. Gatherings of two would quickly grow, as others would see them stopped and come up to see what was up. I spent more time talking to people – sometimes standing in place for hours. I loved every second of it. I took pictures of everything and spent hours labeling them. Last night on Atrus, last time at the great zero. last great top of the tent dance and so on. Somehow – I had this thought, that if I recorded all the people I saw, every place in the city – it would stay alive, never die, be there in my memories, brought to mind like the last whisper of an old song.

Then there were the death watches. Confusion reigned as to the exact time. Was it 12:am Monday – meaning 11:59 Sunday night? No, well then perhaps noon on Monday. Standing with a group atop the grand staircase in Atrus, we all realized the clock ticked on and we were still there. Then it became clear, midnight that night was the correct time. I grabbed a few hours of sleep and returned. People were nervous, edgy, giddy and sad all at the same time. It was madness, it was silliness, it was grief, it was everything – it was wonderful. In the end, it was like what I sometimes imagine death might be like. The seconds ticked by at the appointed time, then minutes. We were all still there and still could talk to one another. Then without a sound or warning, I realized that though I could still run, climb, shout and hear the city, all those around me were still. I was like a ghost in my world apart. SO I moved and then ran up the stairs, nope still here. I decided to take pictures of everyone in the city on that night - at that moment – for as long as I could. It took me two hours to get all the shots. One, I had to climb the tent rope to get, others I had to scale rubble. Finally when the last avi was recorded, I went to the edge of the rubble field at Tokatah alley and thought about one last panic link off into the abyss. Suddenly it all froze. Then it went black. However, I could still hear the city all around me. I stopped and listened for many minutes. Then, when I had said my final goodbyes – I left my world apart and then I came home.

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