Once upon a time there was a boy called Erik who bought a game called Divine Divinity. It was the summer of 2004 and the last year had, to say the least, been poor for Erik. Last August he'd changed school from elementary school to high school (...only, that's not what they're called in the Swedish school system, but nevermind that). Back in elementary school he'd had quite a few friends. However, after the final day they'd all suddenly stopped calling, and Erik couldn't figure out why. The summer had been spent in brooding loneliness, and once he started his new school he'd been so insecure he completely botched his introductions. Everyone else in his class (in Sweden you have one large class with whom you study all subjects) thought of him as a weirdo, and thus he'd also spent the entire school year in brooding loneliness, all the while wondering about why his old friends didn't want to hang out with him anymore and why his new class mates didn't really seem to want to either. The summer had up to that point been spent with nothing to do, and Erik was deeply insecure and unhappy.
Through Divine Divinity a completely new world would open itself though. Not thanks to the game itself. Sure, it was somewhat fun, and he'd been starving for fun the entire summer and thus it was definitely a change to the better. But it was when he started looking for help and tips online that he discovered the Divine Divinity forum, located at Larian.com (Larian was the company that created the game).
At first I (yes, I'm Erik) lurked the forum reluctantly, reading what others had already written. And I noticed that polite questions were met with polite and helpful answers. So eventually I dared to register, writing my first post
on the 14:th of August 2004. And from that point on I wasn't alone anymore.
Because by joining Larian I joined a whole community full of wonderful people. Wonderful people who accepted me as I was, with my quirky, twitchy ways and horrible spelling. I eventually found my way to the Off Topic forum area, where I experienced all the things I couldn't experience offline. People discussed interests, main events, personal stuff and all else you'd expect people to talk about. People joked around with each other, and you could tell they greatly enjoyed each others company. And, lo and behold, once I joined in they joked around with me no different than any other. Overestimating what that meant to me is hard given how deeply I doubted I was indeed as good as everyone else.
Eventually I joined other forums that was almost as great as Larian used to be. One of them where The Chaos Cascade, run by ElliotKane. Quite a few members from Larian was there as well, along with other members from other forums. It had a similar atmosphere as Larian did, and it also had a chat room where you could direct chat with the other members. In that chat room I've had many great conversations, both of great entertainment value and of great value with understanding and finding myself.
Another were the Nerdfighers forum, with it's hectic tempo and chaotic design. This is the forum where I finally realized I wasn't inferior or bad. And where I fell in love for the first time. And where I had many huge debates. And where I found a load of friends who I got along really well with, and who I thought would be my friend for a long time.
Not long ago, however, I noticed something strange. One of those recent friends weren't my friend on Facebook anymore. Without saying anything she had disappeared from my life. And that got me thinking, and to my great dismay I realized that all the forums I mentioned above are all but dead. Before now I haven't visited Larian since early 2009 (that's almost three years ago), I haven't been to The Chaos Cascade in almost six months, and over the last three months the only reason I visit Nerdfighters anymore is habit (I close the window right after opening it every time). The activity in all three is nothing compared to what they used to be.
And to my even greater dismay I've come to realize that none of the people involved that made these places so great are part of my life anymore. You can count the conversations I've had with the Nerdfighter friends in the last six months on the fingers of your right hand. The facebook friend I mentioned only confirmed what I haven't wanted to face: you are all disappearing from my life, and it won't be long until you are all gone forever. Some of you already are. And I've realized that, besides some exceptions, it's probably for the better. It's time I move on.
But I don't want to move on without saying goodbye. I don't want you to all just fade out of my life. Not without knowing just how much you meant to me, just how much you helped me and just how grateful I am. My facebook friend got me thinking and, looking back, I realize I lived my youth online. Others remember the day they finished High School or when they had their first kiss. I remember calling Barta a transvestite, the huge quote thread (the topic name was A Smoke-Free Exeter, which will net you a memory shortage error if you try to enter it...
), accusing people left to right about poor spelling despite being the worst sinner myself (that you put up with me amazes me) and, not to forget, The Remains of the Day thread (a unique thread that says quite a bit about how close the Larian community were at the time. For those who don't know it it was pretty much a diary thread where we all talked about what had happened to us during the day and commented on everyone elses posts).
Most of all I remember the people. I remember your friendly, joking manner, your ability to have friendly discussions and your willingness to listen to others problems and give a helping hand. I remember your warmth and your support. Thanks to all of you I had a somewhat normal youth, despite all my difficulties during this period. I'm not sure I'd gotten through these past seven and a half years without you. I'm quite sure I wouldn't have gotten through these past years in as good shape as I am now. I still draw strength from the memories you've provided me with. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to have known you all and I can't express in words how grateful I am for all that you have given me over the years.
And now I believe it's time to wish you goodbye. Even though I might not be a part of your lives anymore you will all be part of mine, for I have a special place in my heart dedicated to you.Play me a sad song 'cause thatís what I want to hear
I want you to make me cry
I want to remember the places that we left
Lost to the mists of time
I know that youíll go soon
Youíll find out so take me with you, always
I know that youíll go soon
Youíll find out so take me with you
Erik Westholm AKA ‹bereil