Now I know that game receives a lot of flack from the gaming community in general, but to this day, it remains one of, if not THE absolute favorite game of mine.
I mean I know some of you may be thinking: That game is still around?
And yes, yes it is.
They actually just released a mobile version of “Old School” Runescape (which is a copy cat of the ‘07 era of RuneScape in its glory days complete with its nostalgic soundtrack and classic java graphics but with new content and a bit of quality of life updates)
Oh good god, I would’ve been a high school drop out if a mobile version of RuneScape existed back then. I mean my grades already suffered...and I had to WAIT until I got home to play it. I can’t imagine what would happen if I literally had 24/7 access to the game from my pocket.
Kids nowadays take for granted how cool they have. Damn, I said that line. I’m officially old.
Anyway, I’ve been playing RuneScape off and on for over the past decade. Since the early 2000s, this game has been a huge part of my life. One could say it “runed” my life.
Okay but quirky puns aside, it’s a game I keep coming back to and have put in literally THOUSANDS of hours into. I’ve taken breaks intermittently here and there.
But why do I keep coming back? Always. What makes Runescape so goddamn addicting?
It’s like being an alcoholic, you never truly quit. Once a Scaper, always a Scaper.
Today, we’re going to talk about important lessons I learned from playing Runescape and how I’ve applied them to IRL (and why it keeps me coming back for more):
I think the main quality that makes people say “Runescape is addicting” is the false sense of achievement.
You gain xp (experience points), you level up. You collect items, you sell for gp (moneys). You unlock better ways of gaining more gp and xp. Then do it all again.
It’s the goal achieving.
You gain a sense of achievement with hardly even trying. All you’re doing is clicking.
Our brains haven’t evolved yet to be able to be able to really differentiate between *actually* achieving goal and this virtual stuff. We get the same “kick” in our brains when we gain xp or loot in RuneScape as we do when we accomplish something in real life.
Everything about the game design in Runescape is meant to feed our brains with positive feedback candy.
The little xp pop ups as you train your skills, the fireworks that shoot off whenever you level up, the glowing loot beams as that shine whenever you get a rare drop. Yummy!
It’s quite a delicious treat for our pleasure seeking brains!
It all sends signals to our brain that we’re making *progress* and achieving. Our brain doesn’t separate these pixels from reality.
So to put it quite bluntly: We quite literally get high from playing RuneScape.
And I LOVE it.
It is one of the most addicting games you can play. No, scratch that it’s one of the most addicting things you can do.Period. You get high off 99s (and other achievements within the game) and keep wanting more.
See, the more you do, the more you can do. You are constantly unlocking new stuff to do in the game.
You are constantly making progress and you feel accomplished in doing so. It's a great feeling.
Picture how you felt when you set out to achieve a goal, in your real life, like earning a degree or advancing your career. Think about how good that made you feel.
Well this is the feeling RuneScape gives you constantly.
You have a goal and you reach it, you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, then upon reaching that goal creates new opportunity. Grind. Level up. Grind some more.Rinse and repeat.
OH SWEET SAATISFACTION!
It’s a perpetual loop of easy achievement.
Maybe you can smith some new armor or chop down a new tree or slay a monster you weren’t able to before or cook up a new “recipeh”. Maybe you can cast a new spell or catch a new fish. Maybe you even do a quest that unlocks a whole new area to explore with even more things to do -- new training methods, new quests, new creatures to kill. Or even become strong enough to kill other players in the wilderness and take all their stuff. There’s always something to do and the amount of things to do keeps growing the more you play.
RuneScape teaches the “skill” of goal-setting and going all out until you get it. You’ll spend hours upon hours running logs to a bank or alching your yew longbows into gold with magic.
It’s grindy and boring at times yeah, but the end reward is totally worth it. You learn to set a goal then how to patience and persistence to attain it.
You tell yourself “okay, just one more trip” and next thing you know it’s 3 AM, you skipped dinner, and still have to get up for school in the morning. It doesn’t matter though, because your still gaining xps.
You can apply this “just one more trip” motivation to IRL
While playing Runescape, sometimes you even do things you don’t want to do because content you do want to do is locked behind it. Crazy idea, right? Maybe something only veteran RS players will understand but I'll do my best to explain.
For example, you may want to wield a certain weapon, like the deadly dragon scimitar or “scimmy”, but you need to do a series of quests, including one with evil monkeys (don’t ask) in order to wield it.
You may hate doing quests, but you’ll play through them because you love combat and want a good weapon for your current level.
So you sort of suck it up and deal with it.
Not only are you completing the dreaded task of the quest completion itself, but you may have to train up certain skills unrelated to combat in order to complete said quest, like having a Woodcutting level high enough to hack your way through a jungle where you must slay a demon.
Now personally, the quests in RuneScape are one of my favorite aspects of the game. They are honestly some of the best in-game quests that any MMO has to offer. Most MMO “quests” are like “Go here, kill this. Go there. Kill that” But RuneScape takes it a step further and puts in the role of the a real adventurer.
(They actually do have a quest written in satire that cleverly pokes fun of the boring MMO quest trope called "One Small Favor" which is the longest series of errands, having you run around all across Gelinor.)
You actually feel like you are a great epic adventurer with a plethora of skills and knowledge who is here to save the land (of Gelinor), not just some mindless meat bag who runs fetching errands and does mercenary jobs for souless villagers with no character depth. You feel like a real epic adventurer who comes across compelling characters you actually care about (assuming you read the dialogue adn don't just breeze through it by following a guide), and no other MMO (that I’ve found) manages to capture that feeling quite as well in their quest system or otherwise.
I’m more of a skiller and not a fan of combat
I like to sit back in my lazy self and fish on some docks than hunt down beasts with sword, bow, or spell.
But you know what? I did train up my combat to fight some big nasty quest boss monsters and unlock a special elf town that has some of the most afk training methods with the highest xp rates in the game.
Sometimes you have to do what you hate in order to maximize the pleasure in doing what you love. Sometimes obstacles are in the way, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting where you want to be or attaining the level of skill(s) you want to have.
3. I Learned I can create MY own way to “Win”
There’s no set objective in RuneScape. None and there’s no definite way to “beat” the game.
The “end goal” is what you make of it. There’s no obligation to play a certain way or accomplish a certain task or level up to a certain point.
Certainly there is the ever glorious “Completionist Cape” that requires max stats, every quest complete, and a list of “tasks” but that’s not something I, you, or anyone has to do in order to be satisfied with their gameplay (and goal achieving within it).
You are totally free to explore the world in a way you see fit.
You set out what you want to do. You create your own requirements for true victory.
Maybe it’s achieving 99 in just one certain skill that’s your favorite or maybe even simpler like wearing your own set of rune armor or maybe just maybe going all out on a gold horde to be able to purchase expensive rare partyhat or other discontinued item worth billions.
No matter what that goal is, what your victory conditions are, it is completely determined by your choice and your choice alone.
You may reach a point where you’re like:
“Okay I did it...now what?”
The answer is up to you. You can log out and call it a day and never log back in again, or create a brand spanking new account and go about a completely different build/goal, like a “pure” account, the “glass cannon” with very high offensive stats but lvl 1 defence. Lots of damage output but no backbone.
The crazy thing is, from a content standpoint: there is NO end to RuneScape. You’ll practically never run out of content and can keep playing until the point you feel totally accomplished and satisfied with your account.
There are constantly new updates with new content to unlock and even if it was never updated, you can get creative with different
There are people doing region locked characters that can only level up in a certain area of the game, like Settled's “Morytania Only Ultimate Ironman” or Statistically Chalenged's ever dangerously ambitious “WIlderness Only Ironman" where you could get killed by players and lose everything you're carrying at any time.
Chances are you’ll just keep making higher and higher goals (or more and more creative) and good ole Jagex (the creators of RS) understand that.
They keep pushing the community with further and further level caps and harder and harder bosses to kill, and are slowly pushing players towards a level 120.
They also created new modes like Ironman and entire different spin offs like the nostalgic Old School to give players new ways to experience the game.
You can max on one “main” account and create a Ultimate Ironman with the goal to beat Legend’s Quest on another. Ultimate Ironman is crazy by the way, disabling your ability to bank and store your items. You have to carry
(Fun fact: I [unintentionally] played Ultimate Iron Man Mode when I first started playing RuneScape back in elementary school because I didn’t know what a bank was, yet alone how to use it)
It’s completely optional how far you want to go though, as long as you’re satisfied, and that’s the takeaway here.
There’s always more to do and there will always be more, but you never have to do more, you just have to do enough.
You don’t have to live up to expectations of an arbitrary storyline or set of goals someone else wrote. Write your own goals and make them happen.
One of the key features of the game (assuming you’re not playing Ironman mode -- a game mode that allows no trading at all), is buying and selling items in a realistic in-game economy
The main method of trading takes place in the Grand Exchange, which is basically a giant virtual stock market of sorts.
Every in-game item from metal armor pieces and weapons to magical runes and staves to fish and pies is available on the Grand Exchange, with a few untradeable exceptions.
And just like the real stock market, the price fluctuates based on supply and demand. You can learn some real trading skills.
Events trigger surges in the market, like this past weekend for Double XP Weekend, raw resources to train skills were in very high demand (potion ingredients to train their Herblore skill, metal bars to train their smithing, logs to train fletching, etc.)
It was a great opportunity for the merchant-minded to make some serious bank.
They also just released a new “Elite Dungeon” this past Monday boss so combat supplies like food to heal and potions to power up will be in demand. It also introduced new weapons into the game, which always have the overpriced "brand spanking new price".
Also, recently the whole Mining and Smithing update resulted in chaos on the ores and bars market.
What I’m getting at here, is that it’s a real economy in a virtual space. The supply and demand is real, even if the entire world exists virtually.
You can trade in real time and make money flipping by buying low and selling high. That’s right: Day trading exists within the RuneScape economy and you can become gp rich if you play it right.
While the items are all virtual, the merchant xp you gain is one of the best “Capes of Accomplishments” you can every show off.
A lot of the knowledge and experience I have in stock day trading comes from my days of sitting in the Grand Exchange by Varrock for hours. I can probably put "Experienced Stock Broker" on my resume, but I'm too lazy to hold a real job.
NO XP WASTE!
That’s the mindset of an avid Scaper. Any activity you’re doing that isn’t maximizing the amount of experience gained per hour is “XP” waste.
Even little things like..
- Arranging your bank or inventory in a certain way - putting an item at the top right corner, close to the “X” of the bank interface to minimize banking time
- Teleporting to a bank that’s just one click away, instead of running to it
To more advanced things like..
- Learning hot keys to press actions quickly on your keyboard instead of clicking everything
- Arrange your layout to streamline your gathering of resources while skilling or successfully completing boss kills
The seconds you save add up in the long run, especially if you’re going for the 13 million xp required to achieve 99 (and super especially if you’re going for the 100+ million xp required to achieve level 120)
(By the way, one million is a very, very large number. Go ahead and try to count from 1 to 1 million. I’ll wait. I’m patient. I’m a procrastin8r.
It’ll literally take you about two weeks, assuming it takes you 1 second to count each number.)
You also want to use the most efficient methods of training in order to maximize the amount of xp you gain per hour.
The point is: Time is your greatest resource in RuneScape and if you aren’t using it efficiently, then it’s “xp waste” and that’s a huge no no
Value your time so you can level up as fast as possible, a strong principle that can be applied to your IRL goals too.
RS is built on a “tick system”
This is one of those things, like a good liquor, you need an acquired taste for, but once you have it, you crave it.
A game "tick" is a slight delay between real time and game time. It appears as lagg
Hence the nickname "lagg scape".
But is actually a purposefully designed system.
It's awkward at first, a bit bitter like coffee, but eventually…
You learn the rhythm to maximize XP per hour and damage output and it tastes so good!
And knowing your ticks could be the difference between opening a boss chest and death, or the difference between pickpocketing a thug or getting punched in the face or between hitting hot n’ heavy on the anvil or slapping stone cold metal.
Expert PVPers and PVMers developed tricks to get extra healing and even change speeds of weapons. While skillers maximize the resources and xp gained per hour all through mastering their ticks.
It's a unique system that works well, despite it is to handle at first.
Just anyone that drives stick shift will tell you it's real driving, ticking is real MMOing.
Learn how to work things, get a better grip on it before labeling it as “laggy”, uncomfortable, or otherwise undesirable”.
If you don’t understand stick shift, you’ll stall and if you don’t understand ticking, you’ll lagg. You have to adapt and overcome systems that seem to work against you. Learn and thrive.
This can probably be applied to any game really when you cross the line between casual and hardcore.
But basically, you communicate with other players and build a knowledgebase of the most effective methods of training, the best DPS, the biggest moneymakers.
You chat with other players and share what you know and vice versa.
It’s about testing, experimenting, sharing your own knowledge and reading the knowledge shared from others.
Back in the day, I mean we had the Internet, but no one really used it to share information... at least a the level its shared now.
What I mean is most people playing RuneScape when they first started back in the early 2000s had no idea what to expect or what to do. The game was about exploring and figuring out which training spots to go to and which items to equip.
You did things that weren’t necessarily the most gp or xp efficient, but so did everyone else. You came together and eventually got better...together.
You would meet people in-game, come across them fishing “lobbies” (the RS slang for lobsters) on the island of Karamja, and share what you knew.
It was actually about meeting people and chatting them up, maybe bragging a bit about your latest fishing level.
Slowly, over the years, the community brought their knowledge together. Some sites began to feature this information
There was Tip.It and RuneHQ and even the official RuneScape forums among others.
Nowadays when it comes to games (and not just RuneScape) this is taken for granted and just sort of expected. Kids log on the wiki page and read up on it, whatever game they’re about to play. They know all the stats of items and enemies before even downloading the game.
But nonethless, coming together as a community in general is awesome and if anything we've all just gotten more efficient at sharing our collective knowledge online. Back then we were all Interscape noobs. The players have gotten so efficient that the Jagex staff is literally trying to make bosses that can't be beat in a single day. This has yet to happen.
When people collectively problem solve, nothing can stop them from achieving their goals.
We covered this attitude in full detail both in my blog and podcast and I’ll probably keep going back to it, but never let any sort of failure stop you from playing the game.
I learned personally that it was okay to make mistakes and totally fail, like the time I went into the wildy with my full mith and rune scimmy (essentially my entire wealth on the account at the time -- as a noob) and getting killed, losing all of my stuff.
Ouch that hurt!
But I learned. You take no more than 3 items into the wildy and avoid multi-attack areas.
There was also the time I fell for a phishing scam like a dumb ass by logging into a fake website. Mistakes are meh and I learned to be more careful and ramp up my security.
I managed to recover and build my wealth back up after both of those huge detrimental losses, and trust me, it was definitely not easy, but I took it easy and remained calm -- ya know after throwing my laptop across the room and smashing it with a jackhammer ole NightmareRh style lol.
Well that’s it, those are the things I learned from entering the world of Gelinor.
If you played Runescape back in the day, I reccomend picking it up again. It’s a great time killer and can really help you become a PRO-crastin8r. And it’s now available on smartphones, which I know I mentioned, but I just think that’s so cool, like you don’t even know!
And let’s face it we all did play RuneScape at some point back in the early 2000s.
There are 3 types of people in the world:
1. Those who have played #RuneScape
2. Those who are lying
3. Those who still had dial up in the early 2000s
Back in the day during its “prime”, everybody played a bit of RS.
It was about as big as Tomagachi or Beanie Bag Babies, or even more recently PokemonGo
Everyone played it.
And while most have left, there’s still a tight nit community. It has its niche.
Add me: “Kikinar”
I’ll explain that name...eventually!
So, is there anything YOU learned from RuneScape or video games in general?
Leave a comment below!