Happy Monday, everyone!
We’re going back to the past in regards to today’s post. AOL’s instant messenger was alive from May 1997 to December 2017, and I remember using it so often to chat with friends after school during our early high school years.
Video games have always been a major source of inspiration for me. I started writing due to the Legend of Zelda. I started drawing due to Pokemon. Then there was a good friend and the Super Smash Bros. franchise helping me discover my passion of storytelling through the use of AOL instant messenger.
A couple of weeks ago, I was hanging out in Jett’s Stardew Valley stream and the chat went off on a tangent about AOL instant messenger and reminiscing about the good ol’ days of the Internet. Back near the end of middle school and for a couple of years in high school, my best friend and I tended to end our nights after homework chatting with each other about our school classes.
Somehow those AIM chats also evolved into role-playing with my friend taking on the roles of some of her favorite movie characters — like Professor Snape from Harry Potter and James Bond — and me playing some favorite video game characters, such as a multitude of fighters from Super Smash Bros. Melee, since that was the main game we played at the time.
That was actually the “setting” of our game. This sounds ridiculous as I type it out, but our AIM chat room was a “common room” set in between my friend’s boarding house for her favorite movie characters and the Super Smash Bros. manor. Not only would my friend and I talk, but we’d use different colored text to indicate what other characters were talking as well. We even had imaginary pets join our houses at some point because apparently we didn’t have enough characters clamoring for our attention.
With these characters, we went on adventures, crafting stories such as heading to a wedding venue for a couple of movie characters to get hitched to going to Hyrule to help defeat Dark Link. Dark Link in turn ended up being invited to the Smash Mansion, partnering with one of my original characters and turning into a pair of character archetypes that I use all the time in my novels now.
Creating these stories with each other helped us navigate through the middle school and high school transitions, and it was just a lot of fun to goof off with each other like that and virtually explore unknown worlds together.
Unfortunately, during the last couple of years of high school, our AIM conversations started to fizzle out with the need for jobs and filling out college applications. We grew up and moved on from our joint stories, but I still have the majority of our AIM conversations saved in an old flash drive. It’s nice to go back for a little spark of inspiration or just to reminisce again.