Sunday Thoughts: 13/09/09

Those of you who know me will be aware of my general dislike for socialising. You see, the problem is that other people are annoying. I can’t help it; they just annoy me with their opinions and their personalities, staggering around with their expressions hanging off their heads like six-month-old posters on the subway wall. A lot of you might think that I’m intolerant but that’s not really it. I don’t mind what your opinion is, who you pray to, who you fall in love with or what colour your skin is. I just don’t want to be aware of those things. I’d like you to have your own life completely separate from mine. That would suit me perfectly.

There are, of course, a couple of notable exceptions. I’m married so I obviously like at least one person. There’s the staff here at TSA that I like and even a few TSA members that I would count as friends (or at least “internet friends”). A couple of people in the real world rounds out the total number of people I like. You could probably get them all into one game of Warhawk. On one team.

So when we launched TSA Meets last week I was impressed at the way it worked. I thought it would be a good tool for those who like socialising. I never thought I would really care about anything that happened within it. Then, on Friday night, something strange happened. I had half an hour before the wonderful Derren Brown tricked a huge number of gullible viewers into thinking a mix of averages, probabilities and magic had helped him predict the winning numbers on the Lotto. I thought I’d hop online and see what was going on in the TSA Meet for Fat Princess (a game I haven’t touched since launch week).


After the inevitable update downloaded and installed I quietly slipped my way into the game with the TSA members (although I think at this point there were only four of them). I was hoping that I could at least hide at the back of a crowd for a while, try not to be too noticeable and if it was as unbearably sociable as I expected I could turn off and spend ten minutes sulking before the magic show started. Then something really magical happened. I pinged a volley of arrows into ShovellyJoe and saw him expire colourfully, leaving only his hat behind. I had, of course, played Fat Princess before. I’d even played online before. This was different though, I knew ShovellyJoe. Not personally, of course, I mean I’d seen his name, I knew he visited the website. I knew he’d know who I was.

Suddenly Person678 appeared on screen and wedged a pixelated sword into my virtual cranium. I watched the countdown to my respawn and thought of nothing but vengeance. For the next fifteen minutes I played online with people I knew (to varying degrees) and a whole collection of bots. To my immense surprise I enjoyed every minute of it. TSA Meets had made me enjoy the interaction with other people (and one of those was our resident ray of sunshine Zuler, wonders will never cease).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hermit. I interact with other people all the time. I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t understand those people that talk to shop assistants about things that have nothing to do with the shopping. I can’t get my head around what makes people join up to night classes or go to a strange pub “to meet new people”. I have already met all the people I need to know thank you very much. So the power of TSA Meets and the wonderful folk who make use of it was a very pleasant surprise to me. I’ve even been told, since that Fat princess meet, that it wasn’t a very good game because there weren’t many people in it. Imagine the fun to be had if there were more people involved who I knew? For the first time I can ever remember I am looking forward to a chance to interact with people.

I’m hoping for more events soon and more people getting involved and setting up their own meets. I want TSA Meets to be buzzing with activity so that I always have something to distract me from work or real life. If you haven’t tried it yet I strongly urge even the most curmudgeonly, grumpy sour-pusses amongst you to give it a go and set up a meet. I may even use that headset I bought.