This post about MMO culture and how it shifted in Ultima Online reminded me of my time playing UO, specifically my very first day in the game. This was before the Trammel/Felucca split, when you couldn't play UO without being at risk of attack by PKs at pretty much any moment. The Ultima series had been one of my all-time favorites for years, so the idea of playing a new online game set in Britannia was amazing to me. A friend of mine had played previously and already had an account, but didn't have a computer capable of running it at the time, so he ended up installing it on my PC. I played way more than him, and ended up taking over the account before very long. But I digress.
I started out in Ultima Online in the town of Moonglow. I ran around a bit, killed some rabbits, harvested some reagents and so forth. Eventually, my character started getting hungry. Okay, I thought, I have rabbit meat, I have wood. I will build a campfire and cook the meat so I can eat. I sat down to cook my meat, and a few seconds later another player rode up and killed me. I found at later that campfires exercised the camping skill of anyone near them, which meant their camping skill would go up, removing points from the skills they had maxed. So build campfires was a common griefing tactic. I didn't know this, though. I was a total noob just trying to cook some dinner.
Despite that, I kept playing. When the Trammel/Felucca split happened, not too long later, I got out of PvP land immediately and never came back. Not only did I no longer have to worry about PKs, all the new land opened up in the new world meant I could find a decent place to put a house. If the split hadn't happened when it did, I probably wouldn't have played much longer. Instead I stuck around for about a year.
Thinking back, I found myself wondering if I would keep playing now in the same situation of getting murdered so early in a game. I'm not sure if I would. Back then, UO was this amazing new thing, and pretty much the only game in town. Now, I have more games available than I know what to do with. I'm not likely to invest much time in a game that unfriendly to new players. Better to find a place where I can learn and grow as a player without someone waiting to kill me and take my stuff at any moment.