Gaia Online Over the Years

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By: Angela Russo (@NerdGirlForever)

Gaia Online has been through a variety of ups and downs over the course of its 14-year lifespan. For those less familiar with the site, Gaia is an anime-inspired online community with customizable animal or human avatars, extensive discussion forums, an original manga, creative arenas, and interactive games ranging from simple classics to a full-fledged mmorpg: zOMG! The enjoyment factor of the site has been highly reliant on who is at the helm.

Golden Age of Lanzer (2003 – 2014)


Derek Liu (AKA Lanzer) founded Gaia in 2003 and remained in charge until 2014. Widely known to be benevolent and user-friendly, he strove to create the most positive interactive experience possible. If community members expressed a desire for a feature, game, or event, their requests were heard and implemented. During the golden age, Lanzer encouraged and celebrated the creativity and spirit of Gaia members with various art and video competitions, and even held contests for artists in the community to design special items that would be wearable by avatars. The site manga was updated regularly and was skillfully integrated into site-wide interactive community events where users could take part in the narrative via quests, forum postings, and gameplay.

Dark Age of Goldemort (2014 – 2016)


In 2014, Gary Schofield replaced Liu as CEO. His apparent goal was monetizing Gaia into a pay-to-play website. He is infamously known for flooding the virtual market with currency in an effort to herd users into shelling out more of their own money. Fortunately these efforts were not successful, and the vast majority of the site is still completely free. Regrettably, Goldemort was unresponsive to member input. Any complaints made about management of the site would result in getting a user banned. Thus his amusing monicker was born as Gaians reverted to calling him “he who shall not be named.” Within months of his reign, the beloved mmorpg zOMG! fell into disrepair and was deemed unsalvageable. Discouraged by the lack of community-focused efforts, many users let their accounts go dormant.

Return of Lanzer (2017)


One gloomy winter, day a new hope revived the spirits of Gaians everywhere when Liu suddenly reclaimed his rightful place at the head of the site. The hashtag #MakeGaiaGreatAgain started filtering through the forums as long-time loyal Gaians began trickling back to the community. As a welcome-back gift, an incentive has been offered granting free special chance items for each day of login. Lanzer’s priorities appear unchanged by his time away from Gaia as he remains extremely responsive to user feedback. In fact, it is welcomed with open arms. Lanzer immediately posted numerous polls, created a regularly scheduled ask the staff Q&A session, and provided forum threads for members to voice their concerns and give their input on what improvements they want to see. By a landslide vote, users clamored for the return of zOMG! Within three months of investigation and code-fixing, Liu restored zOMG! to life.

Gaians’ Favorite Features


When the golden age ended, original manga updates and the accompanying seasonal events quickly became a shadow of their former glory. Gaia’s original manga has been the basis for the expansion of map areas, npc story development, special chance items, and seasonal or holiday major events. These site-wide events are a long-time favorite feature that users are eager to see fully restored. The holiday manga updates were a community bonding ritual that provided a series of item-granting quests and activities spanning the forums, virtual shops, towns, and the mmorpg zOMG! Halloween has historically held the most highly anticipated and compelling manga storylines uniting users in the face of everything from vampires and dark elves, to zombies, and aliens. The return of these community-building experiences will be important to ensuring Gaia’s future success.

Future of the Site


Now that Liu is back at the helm, things are looking up for the community. The focus of the site is quickly shifting back to the users themselves. Despite only having a few short months to pre-pare, an Easter event was posted to positive reviews, as well as a revival of community art con-tests, with the most recent winners having their zOMG!-themed art prominently featured in the mmorpg. This gives Gaians hope for greater things moving forward. Furthermore, a weekly community magazine has been announced with content by Gaians for Gaians. The site still has a ways to go to be restored to its former glory, but the most important features are back up and running, and the community spirit is being renewed. Personally I feel the return of zOMG! has been the crown jewel of Lanzer’s triumphant return. The mmorpg is deeply embedded into eve-ry aspect of Gaia. Users have swiftly flocked back to the wildly popular mmorpg. Considering its continued popularity, I’m hoping that Lanzer will continue to expand the game as originally planned. As the most interactive feature of the site, I believe it is the key to Gaia’s future.


    9 Comments

  1. AJune 6th, 2017 at 11:05 am

    This was a great quick read!
    I’m excited to see what Lanzer has in store for all of us 🙂

  2. Malicesu ( also my name @ Gaia)June 6th, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I’m so glad Lanzer came back to reclaim Gaia Online! I had no idea about his return until just now. This is a huge relief to me. As a loyal user since 2007, I stuck with Gaia even through the hard times when Lanzer wasn’t around and Gaia went to hell in a handbasket. Now that Lanzer is back I hope to see Gaia’s community become user-friendly again. And for the economy inflation to go down and marketplace prices drop to fair once more.

  3. JezJune 6th, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I been playing gaia since 2010. Im honored to be part of the golden age. As the time goes by, im getting older but never forgot to visit gaia, my 1st online game where i found my virtual online friends

  4. TravisJune 6th, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    That was an excellent read. I strongly believe Gaia Online will thrive under Lanzer’s guidance. I was not happy with the way things were in the dark ages but I had faith it would turn around. Cheers to more years!

  5. Seraphim of JudgementJune 6th, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I miss Gaia Online. I have no more real life friends playing it especially when the inflation started. I hope we can restore it to its former glory.

    P.S. LOL Lord Goldemort

  6. BJune 6th, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    this has gone sIightIy downhiII since then. I just hope these “GET EM ALL” gatchas aren’t here to stay and that the subscription option stays OPTIONAL. and I’m hoping the new site currency isn’t crap and that it actuaIIy defIates the economy as promised. it’s Iooking Iike Lanzer couId be doing 1 of two things, trying to bump the economy, or continuing the idea of Goldymort. And don’t forget the favoritism of certain users regarding their tickets, over others who submitted BEFORE these peopIe did. And somehow we’re stiII expected to wait in Iine whiIe richer gaians are aIIowed to Iine hop and get their items made faster. you heard me, FASTER. took one guy 3 months just because he was a forum assistant. (for a 6 month minimum average platinum ticket) and he submitted AFTER peopIe who are STILL waiting on theirs. Yeah. gaia certainIy puts it’s USERS in mind.

  7. the blue ninja bijuuJune 7th, 2017 at 9:56 am

    I’ve always loved Gaiaonline and still do. I’ve been on the site since I believe it was 2008. I’ve never played zOMG! I know that most gaians love it however and maybe someday I’ll give it a try. Personally, this site has been what keeps me sane when all else in the world could be crazy I was able to go on gaiaonline. I love what Lanzer is doing, but I also hold nothing against those who were in control of the site while he was gone. I rely on gaia to be my rock, my source of creativity and the place where I can be myself. I visit the site almost every single day and have done so for years. I’m a loyal gaian and a shy artist – when I entered an art contest a while back on gaia and actually won I was in shock and it brought tears to my eyes because the gaian community was so nice to me and what they said about my artwork means a lot.

  8. AmberJune 17th, 2017 at 12:02 am

    All hail Lanzer! The rightful ruler of Gaia!

  9. The_True_ProtectorJune 18th, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Ive been on gaia since the first or second year. Since 2005 I believe. Only in tje past 6 months have o come back. I left it 2009 due to getting married and having a little girl. Only in tje past bit have a discovered a movil app for it allowing me access to this sote easier then before. Sadly nobe of my friends from back then are online anymore. Ive been trying to continue my RP characters since then. Ive only ever used that particular group. And i wish to give them the proper send off they deserve. After 13 years on gaia. My main character from the old Vampire haven forum needs to be put to rest…. but in a proper way. If anyone wants to help me finish my RP with my character. Please message me. My account is the same as my name here. I will let you know where Im at amd how I want him to go so we can do it together… lets lay to rest an iconic RP character that has been around since the beginning.

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