I often write in my blog about the wonderful adventures I've had by just picking up my Myst Reader, logging in to Myst Online, or just booting up my favorite in the franchise, Myst IV, to hear Peter Gabriel's voice bring Dream to life. But to be honest, my favorite part of being involved in the Myst Universe is that it never fails to inspire.
I started out on my journey in 2003 when I just kept eating through game title after game title. To be honest, I was stuck in a foreign country with no friends, so the only thing I could do, outside of cleaning my house, was play games. And did I play. The game boxes started stacking up as I'd go through a title or more per week. Seeing that he couldn't sustain that kind of consumption, my ex-husband asked me one night at dinner if I had ever heard of the game "Myst." Not knowing what it was, I wondered what he could have been eluding to, referring to the spatial problem solving he had mentioned. Later that week, he brought me a very old version of Myst. I loaded it up and began to play, but this time instead of decimating the game in a week, Myst took me over a month to finally finish. At that point I was hooked. At around that same time, a commercial was playing on television, one that had the music of Peter Gabriel singing "Burn you up, burn you down" while these amazing graphics and images of mushrooms went across the screen. A few months later, after begging profusely, underneath the Christmas tree was a brand new box containing Uru: Ages Beyond Myst. After I installed the game, I went to work on it, savoring every last beautiful detail, listening to the music and being enthralled at the sight of an avatar that looked just like me wandering the great city of D'ni.
Back in 2003 when Myst Online first opened, I was lucky enough to be invited (in the great clerical error of very early 2004) to the open beta test. It was there, among lag and countless restarts, that I bumped into a wonderful woman named Pepsi. She was a real treasure. Sitting on the worn stone floors of a neighborhood, Pepsi taught me some of the base tenets of the Myst Universe; that I should always greet everyone I meet with a smile on my face and love in my heart; that there is no room for bigotry or bias; that the world is meant to explore one stone, and one dream, at a time.
After sort of being 'adopted' by Pepsi, when she wasn't online, I spent hour upon hour, reading every last journal, exploring every last nook and cranny, memorizing the city so that way I could navigate its streets like a native. It was after so many hours spent immersing myself in the Myst Universe that I realized I had finally found a place that felt like a true home. I was lucky enough that, during the brief time that UruLive existed, I made so many friends and became a part of a unique family. The adventure had only begun when it came crashing down on us like a great cave-in.
After UruLive closed down, I went back and played Riven and Exile. Lucky for me, right about that same time Myst IV was coming out and I was lucky enough to go to the "Quad-M" or The Montreal Mini-Mysterium Meet where I got to go to Revelation Lair and meet the game designers, sound designers and the wonderful folks who brought a piece of the Myst Universe to life. I still have my M4 coffee mugs from that day and they're used quite regularly. I have photographs from those days of us hugging Pepsi bottles and sending photos to Pepsi to let her know she was with us in spirit the whole way.
But then came a glimmer, then there was hope, finally, an announcement that the place that I had finally found a home in was going to be available again. I could go home, take a breath of metaphoric cavern air, sit on the grass of my relto and be at peace. When we stepped into UntilUru, I got together with some friends and created the D'Olympics (they later changed the name to the D'ni Games). You see, the woman who taught me how to live as a part of the Myst Universe was a bit of a mystery herself. I found out a few months after UruLive closed that she had juvenile arthritis and bound to a motorized wheelchair. All that running we did in cavern, she couldn't do in real life. She loved to run, and I remember a comment she had made that running in Uru was the first time she ever felt like she could run again. All those things I took for granted, that I could run, jump and climb, all those things that I could do, Pepsi couldn't. The pride that I was so warned about all those months came crashing down on me. How could I be so prideful? How could I be so unthinking? So after realizing that and watching a woman put together the Athens Olympic games, I sat down with a few friends and we designed the first D'ni games in Pepsi's honor. If she loved to run, then I was going to build her a marathon course, and I did. We had everything you can imagine, from the opening ceremonies to the marathon, all sorts of running events, people playing Ayoheek, diving competitions, you name it, if it was possible to be done with the physics engine of that game and the imagination of the players, we did it. After three months of planning and countless man hours, over a weekend in October, the games ran for 72 hours solid, the first large scale event of its' kind ever undertaken. There were hundreds of volunteers and hundreds of virtual athletes, the Myst Universe became a place where people not only solved puzzles together, but where players from around the world came together in friendly competition. There was even a man who made up medals and mailed them to the winners.
The day of the opening ceremonies, we waited for Pepsi but she never came. Her health by that time was in decline. She had gone in for a procedure and the pain made it so that she couldn't play. She never saw the marathon run and she died three months later. But to this day, I don't take a step in a virtual world or the real world without remembering her.
After I moved back to Las Vegas, I found the Myst Reader in a local bookstore. I soaked up every page. I went through the three novels in a matter of days, chuckling at the screenshots inside the cover of Er'cana and Ahnonay. The Book of D'ni is my favorite by far, Windgroveisms aside, I found that the relyimah of Tehranee were kindred spirits of mine. In my life I've seen the cruelty of other human beings all too often and to see it personified in the shorn heads and black clad bodies of the Relyimah, it made me weep. It also gave me the strength to stand up for myself. After all I had gone through in my personal life, the abuse, trauma and so forth along with the prejudice we were shown when part of the Uru community moved over to There.com only to be treated as relyimah and taking years to become a recognized, positive force in the community, I relented and moved my virtual life to World of Warcraft where my night elf druid named "Relyimah" (after the slaves of Tehrahnee) could literally turn into a great tree, heal those in need and and spread the word of the Myst Universe.
I go to sleep every night after reading passages from three books, "The Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, "The Republic" by Plato and The Myst Reader. All three books have helped me become a better person by just touching them. They're my link to wisdom because I realize what Socrates said was true, "The wisest person in the world realizes they know nothing." But I also remember that just like the great city of D'ni, things we hold dear can vanish just as quickly as it came to us. The perfection of the city, the time spent in the young days of UruLive, the fleeting time I got to spend with Pepsi, they're all gone now, but as the great writer I am, those days will live on in my memory, always tied to the beauty of Myst.
I might sound like a lunatic who takes the Myst Universe far too seriously, but to be honest, Myst taught me a lot, it saw me through recovering from addiction, it gave me purpose and it gave me what no one or nothing could. Hope. So to me, I'll thump my Myst Reader at anyone who will stop and listen. I'm an Uruite, a citizen of the Deep City of D'ni.
Long live the Myst Universe. Cavern Blood Runs Deep.