It was late August of 2013, my sophomore year of High School. Like many people my age, I listened to music while doing my homework, that music happened to be Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings soundtracks, but that’s a personal preference. My mother had recently made the mistake of getting me hooked on Pandora Internet Radio, which was more efficient than Youtube playlists, and gave me more variety than the soundtracks of JUST Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings. So there I was, listening to my soundtracks, doing my homework, or more accurately, kind of ignoring my homework because there’s this beautiful internet next to me, when I decided to start reading the comments on songs in Pandora. The music and my ears had already sent me to far off lands and fictional worlds, but it was another thing entirely when my eyes started doing the same, for it was there that I encountered a disturbance in the balance of the internet, TARP, The Annoying Role Players.
Yes, on Pandora Internet Radio, I found a bunch of nerdy writers, who combined fandoms and their own creativity into the ultimate piece of “real-time collaborative fiction.” I spent about a week reading over their old adventures, exploring this cyberspace anomaly, and before I knew it, on August 27th, 2013, I asked to join, and everything went downhill, or uphill depending on your perspective, from there.
After that, things started to get interesting. What started as a small organization of friends, TARP became a massive club of more than a hundred Pandora users, and after only a few months in it I had already started to be referred to as a “senior member.” But with the increase in population, also grew dissent between the members. Soon the sense of unity and desire for adventure became crushed by members who seemed to only want to create more powerful characters than each other, not to mention their participation in behaviors that I find distastefully common in other people my age. But when us older members tried to preserve the essence of TARP, it didn’t sit well with the newer members, and soon there were calls for revolution against these cruel, restrictive “leaders” who really don’t have any power and are just trying to make life more enjoyable for everyone.
But the conflicts increased, and in late November, one of the founding members of TARP decided that since the continued presence of us senior members would only bring more grief to Pandora, that we should leave. So we created new accounts, complete with code names so stupid internet teenagers would leave us alone, and made our own little haven in Pandora, which, being the creative teenagers that we are, we decided to name “PRAT”. In about a month, an online organization of more than a hundred members had collapsed into a little less than twenty.
But PRAT thrived! Our characters developed and grew, we created some new characters and enjoyed the peace of our haven. It was in early February that TARP had its second big development after the creation of PRAT, this one however, was the brainchild of yours truly. There were a few reasons for this development, one: I’m a show-off, two: my characters had reached extremely large levels of development and backstory that I needed to do something with, three: Nick ***** [A classmate from school] had put me in a little bit of a wiki-obsession, and last but not least: I was bored. So I created the TARP wiki, an ultimate collection of backstory and basically anything TARP-related you can imagine. One project I’m currently working on for the wiki was supposed to be just a short story about the death of my character, but has now evolved into a multi-chapter epic depicting the ultimate end of TARP, because once again, I was bored.
And so here we are, an internet anomaly, held together by friendship and plotlines, keeping our own against the html stereotypes, creating our own world, where all the others left off.