Nothing seemed amiss as I booted up Pandora.com and logged into my City of Heroes account this afternoon. I wasn’t planning on spending too much time in Paragon City, just enough to create a new costume for one of my characters. With neither warning nor reason, everything changed when I read the chatter on my favorite chat channel: City of Heroes is being shut down.
For those of you who know me well it should come as no shock that this news is devastating for me. It hit me like the announcement that a family has been given two months to live. For me, this game has been more than what those four letters typically represent. I can still remember installing it on my 18th birthday and the feeling of overwhelming awe infused as the “Atlas Park Fanfare” played in the background. My first steps into Paragon City introduced me to a new world, and not simply the virtual world crafted within the game. These steps were taken at one of the lowest points in my life; a point when I rarely got out of bed in the mornings and skipped school more often than not. I’m not going to make the obvious parallel. I’m not going to say that this game allowed me to be a super hero when I was weak, because that isn’t what was important. What was important were the people I met, the community I became a part of, and the sense of power I felt when helping others learn how to play.
It’s been 8 years since that first step, and while I may not have all the answers for a new player, and I’m certainly not one of the most well known personalities on my server, over the last 8 years, NONE of those feelings have faded from the first step to the millionth. To be able to create feelings like those is truly something exceptional; something no other game has been able to recreate. But this game has done even more for me. After playing for about a year, I finally took a step behind the scenes of the game and onto the game’s forums. I was amazed to find yet another world, wholly unique and separate from City of Heroes itself. I was able to bear witness to what is surely the most impressive and dynamic developer/player relationship in all of gaming. I saw how closely the player’s ideas, complaints, and concerns were listened to and addressed. This relationship illustrated everything I desired in a fulfilling job and pushed me to work towards a job in the video game field.
So to learn that this game and its developers are being let go with no forewarning… it breaks my heart. Because City of Heroes has been more than any simple “game” could hope to be. No, I can honestly say that when it closes its doors, I will not be losing a game, but rather a friend and a mentor. My heartfelt thanks go out to all the developers and players that have made these last eight years so memorable. I hope you all are taking away at least a fraction of what City of Heroes has given to me.