We recently clicked off another milestone here at the Unofficial Site. We hit an anniversary, and not just any old 3 or 5 years… this was our 17th anniversary, and wasn’t it nice of Blizzard to time the release of Reaper of Souls to coincide with our celebration? This site began back in 1997, when Elly started it up to provide sorely-needed information about Diablo I, initially just for the paying customers at her gaming and Internet shop, then out over the Internet as a whole, when such a thing was still a new and novel concept.
I was one of those first online viewers, seeking information on Diablo I and then on the Diablo I expansion, Hellfire. What about the official site, you ask? Hah. There was never a proper “official” Hellfire site, and for years Blizzard’s Diablo I site was a single page of general information plus some screenshots, and a link to their unmoderated, low-tech Battle.net forums. Fansites were where all the information was spread and all the community interaction took place, and it was fansites, especially Diabloii.net (as this site was once called) that sustained the community during the long Diablo Droughts between D1 and D2, and then especially between D2 and D3.
The site and the community that’s grown up around it has evolved tremendously over those many years, and every year when another anniversary rolls around (we turned 15 during the lead up to Diablo 3, if you prefer numbers divisible by 5 or 10), we can’t help but spend a bit of time wondering what it all means.
Real world anniversaries are occasions to commemorate the progress and change over time, and to celebrate how far you’ve come since the first days. We do that here, but it’s a bit different with a website, since it’s a virtual community. Not that you’re all just robots, at least I don’t think so (this isn’t Battle.net public chat, after all). There are real people running this site, and hundreds more people contributing to the site via forum moderation, wiki editing, podcast guesting, news contributing, essential financial support, and much more. Even the ever-splitting IncGamers Diablo 3 clans are part of this community.
But while all those things are made of people (like virtual Soylent Green), those things aren’t physical. They’re digital. Virtual. The site is information and images and forums and podcasts and all the rest. Those things exist as files on computers, but they’re real things, with as much weight as real life relationships and interactions. For many of us, this digital, online life is more real than much of real life, and this is where we relax and play and chat and interact with people who share our interests in ways that the soulless meat puppets who fill our real lives never can. *cough*
So it’s our anniversary, but it’s also your anniversary, since we wouldn’t exist without the readers and contributors and even the lurkers who occasionally decloak to say they feel a part of the community even though they’re mostly observing. Welcome to all, and best wishes to all for this next year of the Diablo 3 community.
It’s a good time to be us, after all. There were some rough stretches over the past couple of years, but Version 2 is a big improvement in the opinion of most fans, and with Reaper of Souls adding tons of delicious candy on top of all the D3v2 changes, it’s fair to call it eagerly-awaited… and that is not something we could have said about a Diablo 3 expansion pack… in the fairly recent past.
But now we can, so enjoy our anniversary, look forward to Reaper of Souls, and let’s have a great 18th year.
On our 15th Anniversary we wrote a potted history of the site, if you’re new to Diablo: IncGamers and wonder how the hell it all came about or fancy a trip down memory lane take a read, lots of old photos too.