No, it’s not the anniversary of when I started writing about games – this is in fact year twelve of my moaning about flashing pixel-based products, I’ll have you know – but instead the tenth birthday of satirical, stickman-based browser-kinda-MMO Kingdom of Loathing. It’s a game I spent an awful lot of time playing during the last couple years of my tenure on PC Format magazine, in between compulsively browsing eBay for vintage Transformers and repeatedly going to check if the snack machine had accidentally priced Kit-Kats at 5p again, so I am heartened by its longevity.
Perhaps a joke spawned in 2003 doesn’t deserve to still be receiving guffaws of approval today, but anything that uses meat as a currency remains approved in my book. Also, the activation code to remind me what my password for my ancient account is was ‘scentsmellhead’. And when I did log back in, I got an anniverary giftbox, among whose contents were spandex anniversary shorts and an anniversary chutney sculpture.
The game is still the game it ever was, though it has expanded in geography, items and puns over the years. It’s a big achievement for any game, let alone a weird indie thing about stickmen and Turtle Tamers and friendly mosquitos called Tonald. Devs Asymmetric Publications don’t seem entirely sure how to celebrate the anniversary, having settled on an open letter to their own game:
Hey, kiddo. Geez, you’ve gotten big! I still remember when you were just three zones and a handful of items. Now I hear you’ve got thousands of items and dozens of zones, and you’ve entertained millions of people over the years! I couldn’t be more proud of you.
Now, look here, kiddo, I know you just turned ten years old, or you’re about to turn ten years old — I gotta admit I don’t know for sure. Your old dad’s got a lot on his mind these days, but we both know that the exact date you turn ten isn’t the point, right? It’s that I love you, and I wouldn’t trade you for the world. And I know what you want most in the whole world is a brand new pony, so here’s what I’m gonna do: this year, I’m gonna give you three real Sacajewa dollars and a $5 gift certificate to Gopher Gary’s Pizza Palace. Remember when we used to go there? Well, I’m too busy to take you, but the gift certificate will remind you. Maybe you could go with some of your friends, eh? I mean, even if they don’t play with you much anymore, they could come back around and see how big you’ve grown!
And you know we’ve always liked the number eleven more than ten around here, right? So next year we can go for broke with the big party and the presents. I promise. Your old man’ll make it up to you next year. Happy Tenth Birthday, little Kingdom of Loathing. You’ve done your Pa proud.
Whatever any of that means, now seems like a fine juncture to return to KoL. Off you go: I really want to see your meat, people.