If You Were Inspired by Guild Wars to Walk Across America, the Least They Could Do Is Put You in the Game
The above statement is my opinion on the experiences of Kelly Wells, who decided about a year ago that she enjoyed walking around completing quests in Guild Wars so much that there was really no reason she couldn’t walk around doing it in real life. Wells embarked on an epic cross-country journey with her trusty animal companion Anna (a dog). Her mission: walk from Maine to California, visit a whole bunch of interesting locations on the way, and have a real life adventure.
But if there was one surprise left for her at the end of the trail, it was being invited to the California-based studios of ArenaNet, the makers of Guild Wars, who had decided to honor her with her own ingame NPC.
Why did Wells feel particularly inspired by Guild Wars to do such an impressively, well, offline thing? As she says herself on the blog she kept about the journey:
One day I was playing Guild Wars, running around in Ascalon helping pig farmers round up their pigs and little girls find their flutes, and I thought “Man, I wish I could live here. Just running around, seeing the land, helping people in need, and having adventures.” Then came the epiphany:
Why the heck not?
And so my straightforward coast-to-coast walk got a little less straightforward and a lot more fun. Now instead of just walking along, I’m approaching the whole thing as if it were a game. Specifically, an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). I’ve made up a brief character sheet for the players – namely myself and Anna – and I hope to complete quests (for example: various sights I hope to see) and unlock achievements (for example: each new state I walk into) along the way.
I mean, I’ve been playing Guild Wars for six years now – I think that’s the longest I’ve ever done any one thing. It was bound to rub off on me in some way. I’m impressionable like that.
Wells met a lot of people on the way, found herself in some places even she didn’t expect to be at the start of her walk (like Las Vegas) and achieved that goal of big adventure. ArenaNet designer Linsey Murdock was very impressed:
I think that what Kelly did is one of the coolest things I have ever heard of! Ever! I’ve always been impressed by fans who get tattoos inspired by their favorite game, but to be motivated to take an epic journey across the country on foot with your trusty animal companion? That’s magical. It’s something that immediately shot up to the top of my list of reasons to be incredibly proud of being a game developer.
Well’s NPC is a sylvari (Guild Wars 2‘s race of plant people all grown from the same tree) named Amaranth, after her online handle, with a faithful plant-dog named Anna, and unlike many others of her race, she can be found very far from their tree indeed, wandering the world of Tyria to see what might be out there.