Space: the mentoring frontier

I’ve mentioned before that the Cabana Boy and I met at an online sci-fi RPG. For the uninitiated, that’s a “Role Playing Game.” Although some prefer LARP or groups like the Society for Creative Anachronism (of which I was a member back in college), this online group suited me fine.

Maquis Universal is an offshoot of an earlier Star-Trek based group, the United Empire of Planets. Set in a mirror universe from the original Trek, the UEP were generally strong, but evil, and the Maquis were Robin-hood type good guys.

MU however, attracted a broad group of sci-fi aficionados, and quickly branched out from the Trek format to include Babylon 5, Stargate,Firefly, Battlestar Galactica and dozens of others. Other RPGs had firm rules and requirements–all we ask is that people choose a character from any one of the franchises they like, or make up their own consistent with those stories or others. We have Q, anime, Federation, Klingons, androids, AIs, humans, wolves, faeries, ghosts, evil scientists, Doctor Who companions: a virtual creative burst of improv adventure theatre every night.

I am one of the oldest in the group, and when I married the Cabana Boy, we became stand-in “parents” for many of the youngers, most of whom were teenagers back in the late 90s. Through instant messenging services, we got to know these young people, and they us. I think it says something for the quality of these relationships that a number of them survive to this day.

There is something about the anonymity of communication on the Internet that encourages intimacy. Perhaps it’s that one isn’t constrained by all the physical discouragements, or that it’s easier to find those of like mind outside one’s immediate vicinity. While our characters hashed out great space battles, engaged in chivalrous love stories and carried out lives that could never be in real life, we talked about things that mattered to them, like teen life. Boys. Girls. Driving. Bullying. Careers. School. Parents. We worked hard to make sure that the adults who participated in our group were like-minded and would watch out for our little brood of Internet space chicks.

It’s been ten years since this group solidified. Some players have gone and new ones have joined. The core group is the same. Young people who we saw through pimples and dating are now getting married and having babies of their own. They’re graduating from college. They’re out in the work force. They’re serving their country. They’re getting ready to become pilots. As a cyber-mother, I have the opportunity to be proud all over again.

Within the last week, two of the young men I’ve known all these years have both mentioned to me their appreciation for the care and listening ear I’ve provided. I’m gratified to know I’ve been a meaningful part of their lives. They’ve certainly been part of mine.

So for Jordan, Jon, Sebastien and Jen, Mike, Dacie, Tim, Trina and John, Jeff, Brian, Luc, Matt, Robin, Stacy, Chad and Yolanda and the many others who’ve come and gone,  we wish you a safe flight out there in the black. Remember, you always have a place to come home and people who care about you.

As we enter our 10th year, Maquis Universal is accepting new players. Those wishing to participate in an online sci-fi community where seat belts are optional and anything can happen are invited to fly by and check us out.


6 thoughts on “Space: the mentoring frontier

  1. so to those who say friendships on the interwebs aren’t real? Thbtbtbtbtttt! this is a lovely story – and a nice “yin” to the “yang” of internet exploitation!

  2. Aww, thanks, Mom. Hard to believe it’s been that long already, huh?

    Oh yeah, the French Boy and I are wondering if you guys want to come visit after your new adopted internet grandbaby gets here. Or we could pack up and invade sometime after. Just what you guys needed. More kids. 🙂

    And just in case I never told you before, thanks so much for being my Other Mom and for everything you’ve done for me from the time I was a slightly crazy 17 year old until now that I’ve become a totally crazy 28 year old. Thanks to you and your Cabana Boy for being there at the very start of me and the French Boy’s relationship, even back in those days when we didn’t know we’d end up where we are now. Thanks to you both for being involved in our wedding. And if anyone ever questions your parenting abilities, introduce them to me. They’ll nominate you both for sainthood. 🙂

    Love you guys!

  3. Wow. Ten years.

    I am continuously amazed that we’ve made it this point (a decade is a hell of a long time in internet years!) and to have had the privilege and honor to have known these folks and to have worked with them on MU for that long of a time. I say ‘worked’ because it takes a lot to create these characters, their backstories, create stories with my fellow MU’ers and to make it all work without breaking the computer or crashing the internet.

    We’ve had many, many stories over the years from epic sci-fi space battles to heart wrenching drama to out and out comedic story lines. But there is one key element that I think describes MU best: a family.

    Over the past ten years, we have shared with each other the ups and downs of our real lives, cried with each other, cheered for each other, laughed ourselves silly with and at each other and from time to time, wanted to smack each other silly. It may seem a bit weird and wonderful and dysfunctional at times, but on MU we put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.

    One of my favourite lines from a past sim I think best explains why we’ve lasted this long and why we just might go another ten years: “What is built, endures and what is loved, endures – and Maquis Universal…Maquis Universal endures.”

    So say we all.

    – Jordan

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