by Burbie52, HSM team writer
One of life’s truths is that where you put your energy, what you pour yourself into, is where your heart is. It can be a relationship, a job, a religion, our children, or anything else you can think of. As humans, we have a tendency to pick something and put ourselves into it fully. For some people that something is Home.
Many people don’t understand the concept of Home at all. They have never experienced a virtual reality like this, and probably never will. I have tried on numerous occasions to explain Home to my brothers, but even though they are gamers like myself, they just don’t get the appeal. They look at me with glassy eyes and shake their heads murmuring that I am off my nut for believing that anything I am experiencing in Home is real. “How can you know that any of those people are what they say they are?” is the usual response.
But I do know that most of the people I have met here are real and telling me the truth about their lives. I keep trying to explain that I have spoken to many of these people for over two years now, and I think if they were all lying to me, they would have made mistakes and gotten caught at it by now. I am sure many of us in Home have had that experience already in their relationships here — I know I have.
Home is an incredibly deep experience if you dig into it, a place of many sides. You have the gaming side, of course — that is a natural progression for those who stumble in here because it is the one thing that binds us all together. We are all gamers, or we wouldn’t even be here. Then there is the fun side, for without fun being a part of the quotient, none of us would have stayed here long enough to find out anything else about this place. There is the creative side that is expressed through art, film, music, creating cities and houses, and decorating both our avatars and personal spaces.
Then we come to the social side, which plays a huge part in Home’s success or failure, because many people come here to meet others for gaming partners and friendship. There is the serious side of this as well: for many people, this place is a haven for social interactivity, one they would never have in real life for reasons that range from illness to social anxiety.
Then there is the emotional side — for some have found a real life partner in Home. I know this it true because of the wonderful stories told here, and from personal experiences with my friends, who have found people they can love through Home.
We have all come here for our own reasons — even the people who don’t contribute to the community or try to tear it down have come for their own purposes. The past year has given us a lot of changes in Home, many of which haven’t been popular with some people. When I came into Home almost three years ago, I met and became friends with six very interesting and unique people. Of the six, only two come into Home at all anymore, and one of those two comes only occasionally. They are on my friends list still because they found their way into my heart because of all of the great times we had together. And though I don’t see most of them anymore, I will never delete them from my list, even though it is full and I could use the space.
“Home is where the heart is” is usually used to describe our real life homes, where our families live with us, or our parents still live without us, depending on our situation in life. But I think we can apply it to our virtual Home as well — because Home and how it relates to you depends on where you put your time and energy, where you put your heart.
For me, the heart lies in the community of wonderful friends, clubs and this magazine. Without these things, I would have a much duller and more solitary life now that I live alone and have a grown son who has a life of his own to live. When I started in Home, I was still married. I am no longer, but don’t worry — that was a good thing for me and for my ex-husband, and though he couldn’t see it at the time, I believe he does now. It was what had to happen to allow us both the freedom to grow past the rut we were stuck in. Being in Home with my friends helped me through that time of transition in many ways.
Home gave me a place to laugh and good friends to share that laughter, and it gave me a focus through my writing about it. It still does all of these things long after the fact. It gave me the distraction I needed in my free time to move on with my life, and in this I found solace and a wonderful outlet for my creative juices as well. Through Home, I am able to live in a fantasy world of beautiful homes I can decorate any way I like, vacation spots I will probably never see in real life, and behind all of it real friendships with people from all over the United States and the world I would have never gotten the chance to know any other way. This is invaluable to me — it has been a lifeline at times when my real world life was crashing down around my ears.
It has been said that all of us are damaged goods in one way or another, and that is what keeps us here in Home. Here we have found something that was missing in our lives. But I say though that is probably true in most cases, everyone on this planet is damaged somehow. None of us is perfect, or has had a perfect existence in the real world. It is true that some may be more damaged than others through circumstance, but I believe that anyone could find value in this wonderful place we call Home, for reasons as diverse and individual as the people who come here.
Sony didn’t have a clue what would happen when they created this place. They didn’t even know if it would be successful. They are still working on fully understanding what they have built here, and where it is going to go. For them, it may be as simple as making a profit. But Home has evolved way past what they envisioned, and though they have made 2012 “the year of the game”, I believe for Home to continue to thrive, more focus has to be placed on making 2013 the year of social revolution. Our avatars need to evolve with the rest of Home, and we can already see the beginnings of that evolution in the new abilities they have acquired recently — flight, super speed, and new dance moves, added as easily as changing an outfit. I hope this trend continues throughout the coming year, because if it does, Home will become a place with much more heart.