A totally random World of Warcraft memory popped into my head as I was browing my guild's forums today. I believe I was in Loch Modan with my little gnome mage levelling up with a Warlock guildie, who just happened to be female. It was a wierd convergence of events only made possible because of modern communication in which you have Visual (what you are seeing in the game), Text (written communication shared between limited people), and Voice (connecting people who may or may not be in the same place in a game... or even in the same game).
As we were travelling along all of a sudden She asks in Ventrilo (our voice chat server), "Vinadil are you wearing any pants?" Now even that memory brings a small smile to my face, as I have never had anyone ask me that before. We were in a public guild channel at the time, and so the comment garnered immediate response from fellow guildies. As it turns out I WAS wearing pants (on my gnome mage of course!), but the graphic for them was quite small. Suffice to say it is one "those" moments that will likely stick with me for years to come. It is "those" moments that keep me playing online games, the times that just kind of burn into your brain and bring a smile to your face when you remember them.
Perhaps it bodes ill for my real life that I can still remember the day I purchased Everquest1. Ask me when/where I was when I bought Dark age of Camelot, Shadowbane, Lineage 2, or many others and I really don't remember... but I remember taking two boxes up to a counter sometime in 1999 and asking the guy who took your money, "Do you think I should buy this EverQuest game or UltimaOnline?" And, just that quickly my MMO life began. It is wierd to think sometimes how things may have been different if I had merely made the other choice.
I know that intense memories are not unique to the MMO, but the fact that MMOs are social games by design means that these memories become Shared. Shared memories seem to live longer. In fact, I would bet that certain people who read this will also remember the day referenced in the opening. Some may even remember the rest of the conversation. I bet almost everyone will remember some conversation that just happened to burn itself into their minds.
I remember the first pair of Jboots (boots with + to runspeed) I got in EQ... no not the ones that came off that Giant... the REAL Jboots you got from some chick in some low-level dungeon. I remember my first Nagafen kill, the first time I "rescued a damsel in distress" on my paladin, the time I realized said damsels should be held at arms length because they will start wanting your email and phone number, the day I realized most damsels have beards in RL, the many days in DAoC I went hunting Albs and Hybs, the feeling of seeing a set of Walls go up around a dwarven city in Shadowbane... so many memories stuck in my head.
When I remember these things, I remember WHY I still play these games. More than any quest, goal, event, or character that a game designer can give me; I am looking for a new world to create new memories. Just give me and 50 of my closest online friends (most of whom I would not recognize if we passed on the street) a world that we can interact in and create some new memories... and I will keep playing. I know I am playing a worthwhile game when I don't have to think back 2 years to the last one of "those" moments.