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  • I am wearing my prized pair of rainbow boots when a man in electric blue armor runs past me. It is much more ornate than any armor I remember ever owning, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that my ultra-retro boots are fancier. A prize for completing the “Stronghold of Security” dungeon quest back in 2006, they are literally labeled “Fancy Boots.”

    A month ago, an article excessively titled, “After 15 Years RuneScape Says Farewell to Java and Hello to New Graphics” caught my eye. Apparently, RuneScape, the gateway drug for 200 million millennials to the Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Gaming world (now dominated by the likes of League of Legends and Skyrim), was getting a facelift.

    I hadn’t touched the game in over five years. But curiosity had pushed me to download this newfangled client (for RuneScape was no longer browser-based), and now, here I am: a relic from a lost time when Java was the only necessary software and rainbow boots were the height of fashion.

    The year is 2016, however, and my Fancy Boots are becoming less comforting by the second. Too psychedelic, too colorful, too neon. I can feel the beady little eyes of the other avatars ogling the fossils on my feet. There is no time to explore the new game interface— I have to get away from here.

    Unfortunately, the game’s graphics have improved to a point where I no longer recognize my surroundings. Honestly, when did the citizens of RuneScape start building roofs? Neither the map nor the “run” button can be located, so I am forced to blindly slog my way south, frantically tapping keys as my MacBook whirrs in vicarious distress, until, by some miracle, I conjure up the map and pinpoint my location.

    What the hell is Burthorpe?

    It didn’t exist five years ago, that’s for sure. The city I found myself standing in upon login is apparently a “military principality,” according to the Runescape Wiki. Discouraged, I begin walking east towards the capital, Falador, an old city that I hope has survived this vile renovation unscathed.

    Alas, I never arrive. Ultimately overwhelmed by the foreign landscape, the numerous new icons, and the amount of hit points I have (4300? I had 43 in 2006), I attempt to log off after a mere five minutes of gameplay. The red, door-shaped icon that indicated “log off here” in the days of yonder is gone now, though, so I am forced to jab the escape key a few times until I see my desktop.

    Desperate for something familiar, for some sort of reassurance, I hit up Facebook and feverishly send my sister a convoluted message informing her that what had once been virtual miles of uncharted wilderness was now a military principality named Burthorpe. And pets were now a thing? What were titles? What was RuneMetrics? And when exactly did electric blue armor become more fashionable than Fancy Boots?

    The reply comes in two bursts of text.
    “The world”
    I wait.
    “Moved on without you.”
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