The CLIQUE has existed in several forms over the years. I’ve been pondering the origins of the Marathon community’s (formerly) underground ruling body for some time now. Pondering and wondering. Let’s start with the Father of the CLIQUE himself, Ryoko.
In 2005, RyokoTK launched a network level that caused some stir among netgamers. It was part of a contest against future CLIQUE member W’rkncacnter to construct the worst possible netmap. Wrk’s Super Cool Kill Zone lost to the more experienced mapper’s Carnage Vila 46. The READ ME!!!!!!!!!!!!11 file contains the first glimpse at what the CLIQUE would later become (emphasis mine):
CARNAGE VILA 46!!
MAP BY RYOKOTK LOLOLLIN’
ALL U GOTTA DO IS PUT THE FILES IN THE FILE OTHER FILE AND PLAY LOL
EZ AS THAT.
IF U GOT PROBLMS THEN U GOTTA CALL GHOSTBUSTERS O MAYBE ME AT RKYOKOTK@GMLAIL.COM
I WILL PWN U ANY DAY IF U WANA PLAY ON CARNAGE VILA 46! OK?!
WELCOME TO LEET KREW.
LEET KREW PWN U!!!!
So there it was: a (then-fictional) group of people called the LEET KREW. While LEET KREW did not exist, it was clearly part of Ryoko’s fantasy to be part of a clique. But when did the CLIQUE come into existence?
I have in my hands a document by none other than Ryoko, sent to me during the summer of 2006, called [r].rtf. It was made to describe the people who were allowed on my site, ITO, back when it first began to host maps.
[R]elic is a clan exclusively for the highest echelon of members of the Marathon community, intended for people who are good in many fields — not just mapping, or playing, but an amalgam of skills. Joining [R] is a difficult process, and most people who ask if they can be in will be excluded. Hopeful members of [R] need to ask either RyokoTK or Irons — the two clan leaders — for consideration.
What does the [R] represent? Well, it represents that you have those four qualities listed above: experience, intelligence, skill, and activity in the community. As [R]elic gains a bit more renown, people will begin to recognize the tag and make the connection. If you are a member of [R]elic, you will be expected to uphold those four values and maintain the image that the tag represents. If you don’t, you’ll be summarily kicked out. And, believe me, retaining the tag and pretending to be a member wouldn’t be a very good idea.
The benefit you get from being a part of [R]elic is that you have this certain level of respect — both from your fellow [R] members, but also from other users. You’ll enjoy a group of players that know what they’re doing, and are great people to play with/against.
That was that. A Marathon clan called [R]elic, and everybody wanted to join. There was initially great hubbub about who should be allowed in, and how we should go about dominating the net scene with our high-echelon output. Is it fate or linguistic coincidence that “clan” and “clique” begin with the same sound? Either way, we still had much to learn about running a successful CLIQUE, and [R] soon shed its earthly form.
The era of mass-pseudonyms, kicked off by the enigmatic Godot (Irons) and continued by big names like Karuma (Ryoko), and JUICEMAN (W’rkncacnter) commenced its second generation in the unassuming form of Hotmodal. Hotmodal’s express purpose was to form a new clan called qoou. [qoou], always written in lower-case, derived its name from the simple mantra that it wished to “turn noobs upside-down“:
qoou built up much the same following as [R]elic once had, in spite of its self-mocking origins, but often with the added benefit of pseudonyms; hotmodal, Blaze, JUICEMAN, and others provided mysterious facades over familiar personas. In due time, hotmodal disappeared, leaving qoou in even greater ruin than it had begun.
It was at this critical juncture that the true structure of the CLIQUE appeared in the guise of the JUICE. JUICEMAN’s often nonsensical ramblings about this mysterious substance/quality/philosophy attracted little attention during their initial phase on the metaserver, but they spread to the Pfhorums and took root there, influencing more than a few innocent users. It was at this time that the CLIQUE showed its true potential as an unconscious collection of the greatest members of the community. Another clan, the Eight-Foot Tall Burtons, popped up, attempting to organize the concepts of the JUICE into something more. The organization and self-consciousness stunted any of the explosive growth that could have occurred, and [8FTB] dissolved as quickly and easily at it had crystallized.
The CLIQUE soon forgot itself, acting naturally (as it should have done since day one). It slowly coalesced until one special day, when The One (earnest poster, or clever pseudonym?) proclaimed that RyokoTK, acknowledged ringleader of anything resembling elitism, was single-handedly ruining the community. The term “clique” came alive, and at some unknown moment, it earned its final all-caps form, CLIQUE. Its power has grown since its self-recognition; this growth will most likely continue unabated for some time.