Tag Archives: community

That’s A Wrap

16 Jun

This afternoon I had a conversation with Ophelie that led to her admitting that she no is longer interested in recording our show, the Double O Podcast together.  It has nothing to do with me as a person.  It’s not that we do not get along or anything on a personal level.  There is no drama to be had or anything like that.  She has just lost a lot of interest in World of Warcraft and hasn’t been participating in the community like she used to (e.g. her blog, Twitter), so I kind of had a feeling that this was something that was going to start affecting the show and it has.

This leaves me with three options:

1)  I can try to find a new co-host – an honorary “O,” if you will, since it’s highly unlikely that I would meet someone whose name happens to start with “O” and that I mesh well with.  Preferably this person would have some knowledge or desire to learn how to handle the editing or the behind the scenes aspects of the podcast, whereas I would continue handling the more social aspects of the show (e.g. promotion, finding guests, coming up with topics).

2)  I can move on from the Double O Podcast and perhaps join another existing podcast that is looking for a guest host.  I really do enjoy podcasting and I admit that there are so many sides to it that I still have yet to see or to understand.  I think podcasting is a great way to get people talking and to expand your audience in a way that blogging can’t.

3)  I can stop podcasting altogether and focus on my blog and other community efforts (e.g. spend more time posting on forums like Elitist Jerks, MMO-Champion, or the official boards).

Without sounding too dramatic, I feel like my walls are caving in.  I have already been dealing with uncertainties regarding what I want to do in Mists of Pandaria, then this comes along, and now this.  I keep wondering who is next.  It seems like everyday someone else I know, someone I admire, or that I respect, or someone that I have some genuine history with decides to call it a day and stops playing World of Warcraft.  It’s like a demented game of Guess Who and I’m the one in front of the board just flipping faces down, one by one.  There aren’t many faces still standing anymore and that’s mighty depressing to me.

Am I next?

Thursday Thoughts

7 Jun

Over the last few weeks I have really struggled with coming up with cohesive, relevant blogs that I can publish.  For the first time ever I have more than one draft sitting in my Drafts folder and I regularly add more, only to delete them a short time later.  I haven’t encountered a feeling of writer’s block this strong in quite a while and it only makes me feel worse when I see how other bloggers are constantly posting and how they seem to have no such shortage of things to write about.

To be honest, it makes me feel jaded.  Washed up.  I see myself losing Followers because I’m not talking about things that people initially followed me to hear me talk about.  I see myself not being able to relate to conversations that other people are having, because I either don’t agree with them and can’t find a way to word it eloquently enough or because I do agree with them and they have already worded things better than I ever could.  I just feel like I’m watching people, like I’m watching the community pass me by.  I’m suddenly overcome with ennui and I don’t know what to do about it.

Instead of talking about what I haven’t been able to do or haven’t been doing lately, let’s talk about what I have been up to.

World of Warcraft

I haven’t raided in two weeks.  Last week I posted out because I had just broken up with my boyfriend and I was really in no mood to raid or do anything that felt competitive or like I would have to really push myself to do.  This week I had the chance to go out and do something to take my mind off said breakup and so I took the opportunity to do that and volunteered to sit on the bench for the night.

I don’t miss it.  Let me be more specific – I don’t miss Dragon Soul.  I’m excited about raid testing being made available in the Beta.  I’m excited at the thought of grinding the 5 man dungeons to gear up for new raid content in Mists of Pandaria and then doing said content.

The Beta, as it stands right now, doesn’t have much appeal to me, either.  I have no desire to level a toon from 85-90 and then have to do it all over again when the expansion hits.  I would much rather wait until the premade characters are made available and then go from there.  That’s really where things in the Beta will start getting interesting to me.

Diablo 3

I have an Annual Pass, so I didn’t actually have to “pay” for or go seriously out of my way to get my hands on a copy of Diablo 3.  It’s fun.  I haven’t played it as much as most people have.  My witch doctor hasn’t even cracked level 20 yet and I’m not in much of a hurry to change that.

I enjoy the slow pace.  I enjoy exploring every nook and cranny of the map and breaking every barrel, urn, and spider egg that I see.  I don’t feel like there is a clock ticking that tells me I have to be this level or I have to be this geared in order to do this instance within this timeframe.  It’s nice to just say to myself “I want to kill shit,” and then I log on and do it.  It’s very simple and very mindless, which I really appreciate at this point in time.

Magic the Gathering

I have been playing quite a bit of Magic the Gathering lately and it has brought me the most enjoyment these past few weeks.  I find Magic to be very refreshing and so different from World of Warcraft in many ways.  Here are just some of those reasons:

The community.  Since I started playing Magic again, I have been trying to get a feel for what websites are the best resources for me to go to and which forums seem to have the most decent people posting on them.  I have started to Follow certain writers that I enjoy reading the most on Twitter, striking up conversations with them when I can.  I’m slowly trying to get involved in a community that is unlike what I’m used to and it’s intimidating and yet strangely exciting, at the same time.

One thing that really stands out to me about the Magic community is the sense of meritocracy or the feeling that people who are seen as authorities or who are the most respected have genuinely done something to deserve that.  Something that has really frustrated me about the WoW community lately has been the recent surge in people who have obtained this bizarre form of celebrity for seemingly doing nothing at all.

They don’t play the game.  They don’t raid.  But yet they’re in a position where people look to them to tell them what to do or for advice.  They exist solely for entertainment value and while I can see the immediate benefits of such a thing, it still feels sort of wrong to me.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask that someone actually plays the game that they write or podcast about.  I don’t think it’s wrong to ask someone to share their level of experience with you when they try to give you advice on how to do something.

This doesn’t seem to be the case in the Magic community.  The people who are writing for these websites and that you see out and about can genuinely prove that they have been there, that they are successful, and that they have a reason to be doing what they are doing.  They are there to entertain you, but that comes second to the fact that they have some amount of credibility going for them and I really respect that and I miss that.

The social interactions.  I knew that I was starting to experience some burnout once we had downed Heroic Madness for the first time.  I knew that I wanted to take a break from WoW before Mists of Pandaria came out, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with all that free time.  The possibilities were endless.  I could go back to Rift.  I could try out Star Wars or TERA.  I could throw myself into Diablo 3.

But then I realized that I really missed social interaction with people and I mean face to face conversations.  I started to feel like everything I was doing involved hiding behind a computer screen and like I was becoming very isolated and possibly even socially awkward because of it.  It seemed really obvious to me, maybe even too obvious to choose another computer game to keep me occupied until the next expansion comes out.  That’s when I decided to start playing Magic more and to relish those moments when I’m not tied to a headset or to a keyboard and mouse.

To my surprise, I had become really awkward around groups of people.  I found that I had a hard time remembering the names of the people I had started to play with regularly at my local Friday Night Magic events.  I noticed that I had a hard time looking people in the eye when I was talking to them.  I had to remind myself that I don’t have a push to talk key in real life and that I have to keep some things to myself if I don’t want someone across the table from me to hear them.

I’m getting better at communicating and I’m still not perfect.  I do still rage when people stand over my shoulder and make comments about the game I’m playing or someone plays a card over and over again that I don’t like.  I have to get better at being a good sport, for both when I win and for win I lose.  I need to be able to say that I did a good job, even when I don’t feel like I did or when I feel like I could have done better.  Coming back to Magic has helped me identify all of these things (and more) about myself that I don’t think I would have done if I had just moved on to yet another computer game to pass the time.  I’m really grateful for that.

The freedom.  I don’t feel like I’m bound to a set schedule with Magic, the way that I am with WoW.  It’s not the end of the world if I don’t make it to Friday Night Magic, or if I have to leave early.  I can go to a tournament at this store on Tuesday, or that store on Thursday, or do both tournaments and even a third on Sunday.

I find being able to say what I want to do and what I don’t want to do, without any negative repercussions very exciting.  I don’t feel like I’m letting anyone down if I don’t make it to an event or like I am lagging behind, like I would if I missed a raid.  I don’t feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again, like when you farm the same instance for several months at a time.  It all feels fresh and new and dare I say it – like a game *should* feel.  It kind of makes me wonder why I have been settling for something else this whole time.

Reading

I got used to bringing a book with me when I used to ride the Amtrak to go visit my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend).  One of the books that I had picked up was the first book in the “Pretty Little Liars” series.  Needless to say I was hooked.  I’m currently on the third book and I just started watching the television show that goes along with it.  It’s been much easier to avoid spoilers of the books than it has been the television show, but it seems like the show is radically different from the books, so it’s not really hurting anything.

Like I said, I’m hooked.  I squeal like a teenage girl when the cute boy takes his shirt off or he says something close to romantic.  I gasp when something sort of scary happens.  I panic when one episode ends and I have to get up to turn the next one on from my computer.   Completely hooked.

I know this post kind of went all over the place, but I’m okay with that.  Life is good – even if it’s not giving me a lot of things to write about.  I still felt like I should say *something,* so hopefully I’ve accomplished that today.

Thanks for stopping by!

Why Women Are Seen Differently In Magic the Gathering Compared To World of Warcraft

5 Apr

Typically when I write a blog post it usually consists me of telling you how it is and then you comment to either expand on what I have just put out there or to say that you respectfully disagree and why.  In this case, I wanted to write a blog post because I don’t know why something is the way that it is and I am hoping to start some discussion to find out for myself.

About two months ago I started playing Magic the Gathering again.  I felt like I had the time and the interest in playing another game, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to play another computer game.  I really missed social interactions with people that didn’t involve sitting behind a computer screen and having to wear a headset.  I started to remember all the good times that I had playing the Magic the Gathering and I was curious to see if I could recreate that magic (no pun intended) all over again.

Back when I quit playing, which was around 1998, Magic was a very different game – especially for women.  I remember being the only girl at the card shop.  I remember reading Duelist magazine and seeing that all of the writers, all of the authorities on how to play the game were men.  I remember seeing special edition decks that would be released with the names of tournament winners and all of them were named after men, too.  There was nobody for me to look up to.  There was nobody around that I could relate to.  It was very frustrating for me, especially as I was starting to enter my early teenage years, I was extremely conflicted about my sexuality and my gender identity, and I already couldn’t relate to my peers for various reasons.

I was quite surprised with how much things had changed in the course of 14 years.  Women were reaching the top 10 rankings in various high end tournaments and sometimes even winning them outright.  The Friday Night Magic event that I attend regularly is comprised of about 50% women – some of whom may happen to show up with their boyfriends or other male companions, but who are still extremely skilled and knowledgeable in their own right.  Women were contributing articles to various blogs and magazines at the same rate and at the same skill set as their male counterparts.  It was incredible to see and it made me even more motivated to come back to the game and to see what I could accomplish for myself.

Unfortunately, the examples listed above are still very much exceptions to the rule.  Magic the Gathering is still very much a men’s game.  This is something that most people in the community will freely admit to.  For as much as people might say that World of Warcraft still has a long way to go, with regards to how women are seen or are how they are treated, it is still leaps and bounds ahead of where Magic the Gathering is today.

What I want to know is why.

Here are my thoughts on this.

Internet anonymity.

It is no secret that people tend to feel more uninhibited or more comfortable with themselves when they are sitting behind a computer screen and not actually having to converse with someone in a face to face manner.  Some people choose to channel this in really positive ways, as in they feel like they can truly be themselves, while others choose to go in the opposite direction with this (e.g. The Internet Dickward Theory).  Regardless, there is something to be said for not having a total stranger sitting in front of you who you do not know and who you are expected to engage in conversation with.

Throw in an extremely competitive tournament setting, where you know well ahead of time that you are going to be one of the only women present, where you are seated very closely to people on either side of you who you do not know, where casual observers might approach you with unsolicited advice in the middle of a round, and where time restrictions are strictly  enforced, and you have all the makings for a potentially stressful situation that would deter most women from even making the effort to participate in such things.

Compared to a Magic the Gathering tournament, participating in a World of Warcraft raid or battleground may seem like a much safer option.  You can sit in your own chair and group up with people that you know and who you are comfortable with.  You can wear more comfortable attire, like your pajamas or your sweats, and bring a snack (or even a drink).  You are most likely playing in your home, your bedroom, your office – your sanctuary, of sorts.  There is a lot of comfort to be had from those trappings that being out in the open in a Magic the Gathering tournament can’t provide you with.

Tangible rewards.

Some would say that the reason why Magic the Gathering seems so much more competitive than World of Warcraft is because the stakes are higher.  People who become very good at Magic can win trips, money, endorsements, trophies, and other sorts of prizes.  These people actually have something tangible that they can gain (or lose) by taking part in these tournaments.  In World of Warcraft, the best guilds typically end up with bragging rights, achievements, special mounts or gear, but the rewards aren’t tangible.  You can’t actually touch these things or show most people what you have won for completing such feats.  On the other hand, cash prizes and actual physical trophies or plaques are things that everyone can understand the significance behind.

With that said, the World of Warcraft trading card game (which bears a lot in common with Magic the Gathering) also offers some tangible rewards, as well.  Yet that game is still considered to be rather casual and inviting towards all different kinds of players in a way that Magic the Gathering still is not.  So maybe it is something else.

The community.

World of Warcraft has one of the most vocal communities out there.  There are hundreds of blogs devoted to the game, from people who raid casually, to those who don’t raid at all, and everything in between.  Sites like Blog Azeroth and WoWInsider act as hubs, or ways to bring the community closer together, and as ways to spotlight voices in the community that may be worth paying attention to.  Podcasts also pop up from people with different takes on all things World of Warcraft, again some from people more experienced with such things and some from others who may not be.  At the end of the day, there is something for everybody.  You really can find something that represents you and that speaks to you.  We have just about every niche filled and if we don’t, there is always room for someone to come along and fill that niche themselves.

From the brief time that I have spent delving into the Magic the Gathering community the opposite seems to be true.  The only people blogging or doing so with any sort of visibility appear to be those at the upper echelons of the game.  The same decks are covered over and over, along with deck ideas that exist solely to beat said deck in a competitive setting.  You don’t see anyone at a more approachable level talking about their experiences and what they may have learned.  The barrier to entry is quite high for these activities.

The game isn’t sold in these formats in such a way where it makes you feel like you too could take part in the action.  It does contribute to the feeling that you need this many DCI points, or this win under your belt, or this deck in your box to be worthy of having a blog or a podcast worth listening to.  And that’s not to say that the authors or podcasters themselves are solely responsible for this.  The audience determines what makes it and what doesn’t.  And if the audience decides that they only want to see people who are successfully taking part in these endeavors, then those are the blogs that you are going to see more prominently.

So what do you think?  Why do you feel like Magic the Gathering is still behind, when it comes to how women are seen, compared to a game like World of Warcraft?  Maybe you feel the opposite.  Let’s talk about it!

Planning Stages

15 Mar

I have been doing quite a bit of planning lately for two different endeavors that I would really like to see get off the ground.  Unfortunately, I can’t make them happen all by myself, so this is where you all come in.

First, I would like to try setting up a 10m run that is interested in going back to the Tier 11 and possibly even Tier 12 hard modes to down Sinestra and then Ragnaros.  Sinestra is firmly at the top of my Bucket List of things to do before Mists of Pandaria comes out and I know there are other people who feel the same as I do about that. 

I tried setting up a run on the Twitterland Raiding site and didn’t get many responses – not because of lack of interest or anything, but mostly because of scheduling.  So if anyone is interested, and has a character on the Horde side that would like to participate, please leave me a comment, or reach out to me in some other way to let me know what toon you would like to bring and what days or times work best for you.

I would strongly prefer to take mains, as some of these hard modes are still nothing to sneeze at, but I would settle for a suitably geared alt that someone can play well, too. 

Second, I have decided that I want to attend GenCon in Indianapolis, in lieu of BlizzCon being cancelled this year.  Unfortunately, going alone would dramatically increase my expenses, so I’m looking for someone else (or mulitple someones) who may be interested in going and sharing a hotel room with me for the trip.  Or if someone happens to live in the area and wants to put me up for the duration of the convention, that could be a possibility, too. 

Even though the convention isn’t until August, I would like to get things fleshed out as soon as possible, as the cost of buying a badge for the convention goes up after June, and I would like to get a hotel room while they are still available.

If you think you can help with either of these things, please let me know.  Otherwise, have a great Thursday and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Lifetime Of O’s – Then And Now

13 Mar

Have you ever had one of those moments where you take a second to look around and you think to yourself  “How did I get here?”  I have those moments more often than most people do, but I felt compelled to answer the question a bit more seriously after some other bloggers started a trend of writing posts detailing where their characters came from compared to where they are now. 

I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to tackle this one.  The character that I play now is not the one I started out with, so I wasn’t sure if I should talk about the history that I have with my current main, or my previous one, or even the one before that.  This post could be as long or as short as I wanted to make it.  In the end, I decided that I wanted to go all the way back – back to the beginning.  How did I get here?  Let me show you.

It all started on a little realm called Thunderhorn, which is actually still around, and is considered to be one of the oldest realms in the game.  I was an Alliance healing priest named “Kemintiri,” in a guild called “Chosen of Valhalla,” which was run by Shoryl.  I was so green.  I didn’t know how guild politics worked.  I didn’t know anything about what it meant to be a raider and how to handle yourself as such.  I knew nothing. 

Thunderhorn was grossly overpopulated – so much so that before Burning Crusade was released Blizzard was thinking of either splitting the realm in two (so there would be a Thunderhorn 1 and a Thunderhorn 2), or they were going to offer free realm transfers to lower population realms.  The guild that I was in was part of an alliance of guilds and they all agreed that the free realm transfer was the better option, rather than staying on Thunderhorn and leaving fate to decide which half of the server we ended up on.  As it turns out, the split never took place, so we really had nothing to worry about.

Shortly after we arrived on Zangarmarsh, I was kicked out of the guild.  I was pretty distraught over what happened and what I perceived to be a betrayal from people that I thought I could trust or who I thought were my friends.  I really wanted nothing to do with the Alliance anymore at that point.  I decided to create a Horde character, but I couldn’t come up with a really good name for my character.  Codi was my roommate at the time and she had an encyclopedia of gods and goddesses that I used to borrow from her frequently. 

I remember browsing through the pages and the name “Ouranos” jumped out at me.  It was unlike anything I had ever heard of before.  Since I was thinking of making a Tauren druid anyway, the name seemed kind of appropriate.  Codi loved the idea and told me I should name my character that, so I did.  I had an issue with how the Tauren females looked, so I opted to make a Tauren male instead.  I thought it would be kind of neat to have such a masculine looking character and be someone seemingly so girly behind the screen.  I really got a kick out of that dichotomy. 

So I leveled Ouranos as a balance druid with some friends of mine and we even created our own little guild to call our own.  Once we hit level 70, the urge to raid came back strong.  We took the guild apart and joined a guild called “Resilience,” which was run by a rogue named Ricen.  Little did I know that the real person running the show was a warlock named “Raaziel,” who paid for the website, the Vent server, managed the DKP, ran the raids, etc.  I also didn’t know that Raaziel and I would eventually end up dating and that I would be part of the reason the guild fell apart.

Raaziel really didn’t want to be running the show.  I grew tired of hearing him complain about things that he really didn’t want to do and so I politely suggested that maybe he should do something that does make him happy for a change or maybe even take a break.  He went one step further – he quit the game completely.  Without having him on board to run the show, the guild slowly descended into chaos.  Raaziel and I broke up a short time later and the guild eventually split into two – half the guild chose to stay with “Resilience” to try and make the best of it and the other half formed a guild called “Ens Entium.”

One night, while partying in Halaa with some friends, I ran into a boisterious warlock named Joecmel, who was the de facto raid leader for a guild called “Big Tymers.”  Joe and I hit it off right away and he was amazed that I was guildless and not doing more with myself and my character.  Within days I had joined the ranks of “Big Tymers” as a raiding moonkin and he and I started to get to know one another.  Before we knew it we were dating and even making plans to move in together.  This of course didn’t sit too well with the guild.

I was constantly fighting off accusations that I was being carried or that I was using  Joe for status, or gold, or a raid spot.  He was coming off winning the Gladiator title during the first ever Arena season, so everyone on the realm and even some people outside of our realm knew who he was.  He was this sort of celebrity and I was a total nobody.  We became affectionately known as “O and Joe,” and before we knew it everybody seemed to be involved in our business.  It got worse when I actually did move out of state to be with him.

We decided to leave “Big Tymers” together and threw our lot in with a guild called “Scurvy Dogs,” a pirate themed raiding guild, where you would literally get greeted with a “Yarr” every time you logged in.  This is where I got my first real taste of serious raiding and I loved every minute of it, with the exception of one little thing.  It was a labor of love to be a moonkin back then and you either played one because you truly loved to do it or because you were a masochist.  

I felt like I had taken being a moonkin as far as I could go, or like I was starting to plateau in that role.  We had just started to break into Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep when a couple of resto druids on our roster had decided to take an indefinite break from the game.  This left a huge gap in our healing line up that was going to need to be filled.  I felt like I needed a challenge, so I offered to respec and try out resto, to see if I could potentially fill that void.  My guild master, who was also named Void, took me on a Karazhan run to sort of test my mettle.  I two healed it with a holy paladin and I had never been more scared in my entire life.  Did I forget to mention that Void was wearing a wedding dress the entire time?  Petrified.

From that point on I was a raiding resto druid and things continued to progress nicely until Joe and I fell apart.  I used to say that we were the Ben and J-Lo of our realm and everyone wanted to know what happened and had started to choose sides.  I was miserable – crying on Void’s shoulder on Vent because I had nobody else to talk to and it all got to be too much.  I decided that Joe could have custody of the guild, while I went looking for more elsewhere.  Shortly before Wrath of the Lich King came out, I joined a guild called “Invalid Target” back on Thunderhorn.

Things with “Invalid Target” started out well enough.  I was able to finally clear Zul’aman (which was a very difficult 10m back then) and get an Amani War Bear.  I was able to see progression fights at a steady pace.  I was happy.  At least until Ulduar came out and the controversy over who was going to be awarded the legendary healing mace began.  There had been a lot of talk on our forums about who was going to get Val’anyr and the officers still hadn’t made a decision by the time we pulled Flame Leviathan for the first time.  I guess they thought that the odds of getting a fragment our first night on the first boss on Normal mode were rather slim.  They were wrong.

The officers were frantically trying to figure out what to do, and so they just decided to have all of the healers roll on it.  I rolled a 98 and was to become the first recipient of Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings.  Needless to say the other healers were not pleased at this and things only got worse from there.  One healer, in particular, felt very slighted and it didn’t help that she was friends in real life with most of the guild.  Things got ugly fast.  People were making comics about me on the boards.  I was being goaded into fights in guild chat.  It was not pleasant.

I decided to leave and joined the top guild on our server (Horde side, at least), a guild called “Lobster Brood.”  This guild had a great reputation and they really believed in me as a healer and as a person and I was very excited to be a part of their ranks.  It wasn’t until after I joined that I got to see the inner workings of the guild and I didn’t really like what I saw. 

The guild had an unusually high turnover rate and I felt like we were in this endless cycle of gearing up people, losing them, and then having to recruit more people that we would have to gear and train.  We could have gone a lot further, progression wise if we weren’t constantly losing people and then replacing them.  I started to resent having to repeatedly sit for new people again and again, just because we either couldn’t keep people on board, or because of a string of bad luck with recruitment. 

After that, I moved the now female “Oestrus” (who had her name and gender changed shortly after Naxxramas was released) to Khaz Modan, and joined a guild called “Retribution.”  The guild was serious about progression, but still home to a likeable cast of characters, including an openly gay GM, and a fantastic resto shaman named Natoro.  Seeing as how Natoro was also our healing lead, he was the one that I had the most contact with during my trial period, and he and I hit it off right away.  He began to court me and the feelings became mutual.  Before I knew it we were dating and he was flying in to see me over Labor Day weekend of that year.

Natoro and I didn’t make it much past that weekend, and so I left “Retribution” for a brief stint on the Hydraxis realm, only to return to Zangarmarsh.  Joecmel and I had long since made amends after our relationship ended and he was now running a guild called “Cause for Concern.”  Although the 25m raids weren’t very successful, he had his own 10m group and asked if I wouldn’t mind being a part of it.  I got most of my Heroic experience in Icecrown Citadel with these folks and it was a very enjoyable experience for me.  I had started to take on some recruitment duties for the main raid and I was happy.  Or at least I thought I was.

The truth is that I missed a certain standard of raiding that just doesn’t exist on Zangarmarsh.  It never has and it probably never will.  Zangarmarsh tends to exist in a bubble and what they consider raiding is very different from what I consider it to be.  I had tried to take more of a hands on approach to replace the bad players by handling the recruitment myself and it just wasn’t working.  I started to really resent the people I was raiding with who weren’t trying as hard to do well and I also started to resent the officers and Joe, who seemed to stand by and let it all happen.  The guild had literally become a cause for concern. 

I left “Cause for Concern” for a guild called “Scientific Method” on Maelstrom.  With their help, I was able to finally complete my Val’anyr and clear up to Heroic LK 25.  I didn’t really have much in common with them on a personal level, but I certainly enjoyed them on a professional level.  They got shit done.  That’s all I really wanted at the time.  Around this time I had gotten my hands on a Beta key for Cataclysm and I was very unhappy with the direction that Blizzard seemed to be taking resto druids.  I was pretty sure that I wanted to re-roll for the next expansion, but I wasn’t sure if “Scientific Method” would have room for me as the class that I wanted to play next.

I had begun to get to know Kurnmogh through my early adventures in the blogosphere and she was attempting to breathe new life into her former guild, called “Apotheosis.”  This guild sounded like a dream come true to me.  I really wanted to be in a guild that would allow me to see progression, but with people that I could genuinely like, and not just have to stomach in order to get what I want.  I moved my former alt priest (now my new main, Obscene) to Eldre’thalas, turned her into a Dwarf female, and spent the rest of Wrath and my time in the Cataclysm Beta trying to master my new class. 

I enjoyed being in “Apotheosis” immensely – from the leveling process, to the process of gearing up through Heroics, and then our first raids together.  Where I started to take issue with certain things was on a social or administrative level.  I felt like there were certain situations that I was bringing to people’s attention or that others were creating for themselves that could have been handled proactively and wouldn’t have turned into the firestorms that they had become.  They were molehills that were allowed to become mountains, so to speak.  There were situations that I felt I had to handle myself, because Kurn or the other officers weren’t doing anything about them.  This ended up being my downfall.

Eventually I had gone too far and I had received word that the officers basically didn’t know what to do with me, that they didn’t know if I really wanted to even be in the guild anymore (based on my behavior), and that they would need to sort of deliberate on what to do next.  I felt like I had been backed into a corner and I didn’t like the prospect of waiting for other people to decide my fate.  I felt like I needed to take the power back and that if I was going to be made to leave a guild that I was going to do it on my terms.  Before the officers could make their decision, I told Kurn that I was going to leave. 

I definitely could have handled that situation better.  I don’t know what the officers would have decided, had I stuck around to see the final outcome.  What I do know is that I still consider “Apotheosis” to be the guild equivalent of “the one that got away.”  I was never happier than when I was raiding with my two best friends, Dahrla and Hestiah.  I enjoyed Kurn’s long winded and yet necessary explanations and posts on the forums.  Those things became a distant second to the burnout that I was starting to feel, which would lead to my most dramatic outburst ever.

I had been in “Occasional Excellence” on Quel’dorei (now the home of both Dahrla and Ophelie) for about two months when we came up against the wall known as Heroic Nefarian.  I was tired of caring more about the fight than other people did.  I was tired of wiping due to human error – not even due to Nefarian himself.  I felt like there was a lot of fuckery going on in the raid and like that focus should have been put into our performance, not on Heavy Leather Balls and the like.  A couple people thought they were being funny and amusing and I wasn’t having it.  So I left the raid. 

I was given the opportunity to stay in the guild, if I would offer up some form of apology, and I refused to do such a thing.  I felt like I was owed an apology for the poor performances of others and that this was again a situation where people saw something like this coming and they did nothing to prevent it.  I made it clear that I was annoyed, that I didn’t enjoy the Leather Balls, and people still kept throwing them.  I told them they would be sorry and I wanted to make very sure that I stuck to my guns on that.  Was it the right thing to do?  Of course not.  Would I do it again?  No.  At the time I wasn’t thinking about all of that.

Somehow my priest (now known as “Oenomel”) made her way into “Serious Casual” on Mal’ganis, which marked my return to the Horde side of things.  Firelands had just been released and things were not looking good for holy priests.  I was very clear during the application process about the fact that I was predominantly holy and I assumed that the raid knew what they were in for.  I remember being told my first night there to “Go disc or go home.”  Eventually I was given an ultimatum by the healing lead at the time that if I didn’t go discipline when asked that I could be benched – possibly even permanently.  To me this was the final straw.

It was never being discipline, in and of itself that I had an issue with.  I took issue with the fact that I wasn’t given a say in when I got to go discipline.  I was never trusted to make that call for myself.  It was basically “You’re going to do this and you’re going to like it,” and I wanted no part of it.  After certain people in the raid found out that I had blogged about this there was a heap of drama and it all became too much to bear.  I was pretty sure that I was done with World of Warcraft for good and threw my lot in with some friends who were playing Rift.  This lasted for about four months, or until shortly after BlizzCon.

BlizzCon made me realize how much I missed the community and how much I missed having people with a similar interest to discuss said interest with.  I met a few folks from “Big Crits” there and was encouraged to apply for their more casual run, known as the “Da Crew” run.  I was told that they already had 2 10m runs under the “Da Crew” banner and that they were looking to recruit for a third one.  This sounded like a good fit to me.  I had been gone long enough where I didn’t have the history or experience to get back in with a more serious group and I wasn’t even sure I wanted something that serious to begin with.  I figured this would give me an opportunity to sort of get my feet wet again and to figure out where I wanted to go from here.

“Big Crits” ended up being nothing like I imagined.  If I had to describe my time in “Big Crits,” I would probably compare it to sitting at the dinner table with a really dysfunctional family.  You know – one of those families where everything looks perfect, but dad’s really an alcoholic, and mom’s having an affair with the tennis instructor, the daughter is secretly a lesbian, and the son is a pyromaniac.  But nobody talks about it – and as long as you don’t talk about certain things, and you don’t acknowledge that they’re actually happening you will get along just fine.  So there were a lot of issues that kept coming up that nobody wanted to deal with and because I did (although maybe not in the best way possible) I got a lot of flak for it. 

There were other issues, with regards to personality conflicts and such, but it all led to the same conclusion.  It just didn’t work out.  I took about two weeks off from raiding after I left “Big Crits” and had a one week stint in a guild that a friend recommended, which then led me to my current guild.  I enjoy the people I raid with now.  I enjoy the progression that I’m seeing.  I like that they trust me to make my own decisions, with regards to my character and my class.  I feel good.  I can’t say that I’ll be here forever, but I also can’t say that I’m looking to leave them anytime soon.  I’m just taking it one day at a time.

I have certainly come a long way and I have learned a lot in the five years or so that I have been playing this game.  There are things that I would do differently, if I could, and there are things that I would probably have never done – if I knew then what I know now.  It’s been a wild ride and I am proud to say that I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. 

I really do believe that you can’t know where you are going until you have known where you have been, and so I encourage anyone reading this to really take a good look at what brought you to where you are now.  Relive the highs and the lows.  Remember the friends (and the enemies) that you have made along the way.  They helped make everything you are today possible.  Don’t ever forget that.  I know I sure won’t.

Shameless

27 Feb

Somewhere down the line I developed a reputation as being someone who will say and do nearly anything.  While this is true, there is one thing that I won’t do.

I don’t kiss and tell.

No, I don’t mean when you immediately run to your girlfriends and dish about that fantastic date that you just came back from, or when you write on your Facebook wall about just how much fun the conception of your first child was.  I mean the practice of bragging about or being fairly candid about the number of page views that your blog attracts or the number of Followers that you have acquired on Twitter.

Recently, a couple of posts sprang up in the blogosphere, which admittedly were very gracious and not immediately harmless.  I just want to stress that I have no personal issue with the people who decided to write these posts and so I’m not going to name names or anything.  What I do take issue with is the principle behind it, which whether they meant it or not, does reinforce the idea that on some level your page views matter.

I have met a number of people who have a very strong interest in starting a blog, but won’t, because they are afraid that nobody will be interested in what they have to say, or that nobody will read what they write.  I have also seen a number of bloggers who made a solid attempt at blogging, but gave up when they didn’t get the traffic that they were hoping for, or when they felt like nobody was listening.

Now you could argue that these people were blogging for all of the wrong reasons and so they were doomed to fail anyway.  I have gone on record a number of times to say that if you are looking for a reason to blog and you are doing it for the page views that you are doing it wrong.  That is not the reason to start a blog.  It is not worth getting wrapped up over and it really can turn into an endless spiral of shame and self-loathing if you let it.  But one could also say that you can’t blame people for being concerned about their numbers when they see posts celebrating these near impossible landmarks and the amount of admiration and praise that is showered upon people who do reach these heights.  You can’t blame someone for wanting to be a part of that and for wanting to feel that way, too.

I compare advertising your page views or how many Followers you have to boasting about the number of people that you slept with.  You may have slept with 25 people, but that doesn’t make you better in bed than the person who only slept with 2 people.  We should be judging ourselves and each other on the quality of our work rather than the number of people that it attracts.  I know quite a few up and coming bloggers that I have seen mentioned on Blog Azeroth that have written some truly riveting posts within weeks of starting their blog, which I can’t always say for people who may be more well established and who have been going at this for a while.  That blogger may have only gotten 100 page views or so, but I would much rather read what they have to say than that powerhouse blogger who gets thousands of views a day.

It really is not about that.  I have been blogging for a long time and I can honestly say that I was never happier than when I was blogging away on Livejournal, when nobody knew who I was, and when I was talking about how excited I was that the first season of “The Golden Girls” was coming out on DVD.  I wasn’t writing for anyone but me and it showed.  I didn’t obsess over who was going to take something the wrong way, or whether or not my facts were straight.  I wrote because I loved to do it and because it helped me clear my head and get a lot of things out of in the open that I didn’t think I could say to anyone else directly.

Somewhere down the line it gets muddled and you do feel obligated to keep going.  It’s hard not to feel that way when you realize that people are looking forward to your next post or when they do get emotionally invested in the things that you write about.  Blogging starts to feel less carefree, less effortless once you develop some semblance of a following.  I can take a look at the posts that I wrote when I had no Followers and nobody subscribed to my blog and see a huge difference in the tone or the quality of the posts from where I am now.  It really does change everything.

On a similar note, we say that we like Looking For Raid because it gets people interested in raiding, but then we criticize other players when they don’t perform to the standards that we are used to in our everyday raiding guilds.  We wonder how people could be so incompetent or how they could have gotten this far without asking for help.  I see elements of this in the blogosphere, too.  We make comments on Twitter that we have nothing new to read and that there are no blogs out there that pertain to a certain topic, but then we hesitate to click on a Retweet from a friend that just may have an article from a new and interesting voice that has yet to be heard.  Or we don’t think to write back to someone who sends us a Tweet or leaves us a comment to tell us that we did a good job on our most recent post, simply because we have never heard of them, or because they may have less of a following than we do.

Whether you mean it or not, that new blogger is going to read a post like the one mentioned above and it may deter from them even getting started, or it may convince them that they aren’t cut out to maintain a blog because they can never pull in numbers like that.  I think we should be doing everything we can to remove any sort of “Why bother?” element from people interested in getting involved in the community and be more inclusive, overall.  We all remember what it was like when we were first starting out and I think it’s important that we never forget that, no matter how successful we might become.  There really is enough room for everyone at the table, regardless of the amount of page views that you generate.  Let’s do a better job of communicating that, shall we?

Choice

5 Sep

Whenever I read something, I try to imagine the author’s voice in my head and what it would sound like if they were reading the story directly to me.  If they’re angry, I imagine their voice rising and falling and maybe even that they’re pacing back and forth.  If they’re happy, I imagine them smiling broadly and expressively talking to me with their hands as they’re sharing their good fortune with me.

For anyone reading this post, I would like you to imagine that I’m speaking to you in a very level headed, professional tone.  I’m not angry.  I’m not upset.  Imagine that I’m speaking to you in the same tone of voice that I would if you were listening to my podcast or if you were listening to me discuss strategies with you during a raid on Vent.  What I’m about to write has nothing to do with being spiteful or malicious, but with the feeling of maybe being a bit misunderstood.

It’s recently been brought to my attention that certain bloggers or personalities have expressed concern or frustration with the fact that many of us in the blogosphere have been highly critical of World of Warcraft and Blizzard for certain decisions that they have made and continue to make towards the game.  Certain people feel that we have become overly negative and that we are fostering a sort of bitter rivalry between those of us who still enjoy World of Warcraft and those of us who may have moved on to greener pastures (i.e. Rift).

While I can certainly see where people are coming from and I respect that most people that are coming forward with this opinion have been extremely respectful about it, I can’t help but feel a bit confused by all of this.

At the end of the day, we are responsible for the choices that we make.  Personally, I write about what I want to write about.  I support who I want to support.  I don’t do things for the greater good or because I feel it’s going to get me somewhere by doing a certain something.  I have never felt that pressure as a blogger and I hope that I never do.  If I see that someone is writing about something that I can’t relate to or if I don’t enjoy their writing style anymore, I stop reading their posts.  I choose not to download their podcasts.  I may not Follow them on Twitter anymore.  I may even block them on Twitter.

Nobody is making me be exposed to things or opinions that I don’t want to be exposed to.  I make that choice to listen to them and to follow them in their endeavors.  I knew that by even admitting that I played Rift that I was going to be isolating many of my readers.  I knew that things would only get worse once I left World of Warcraft for Rift.  I was prepared to lose readers, Followers, and subscribers once all of the changes on my blog took place.  I knew that support that I had come to rely on for page views wasn’t going to be there anymore and I would be foolish to expect everything to stay the same.

I understand if people who Followed me for one reason can’t find that reason anymore and they have to remove me from their blog or Twitter feeds.  I would never fault anyone for doing that.  It’s ultimately your choice and I respect that.  But I feel like some of that respect is not being returned, in that we are being criticized for sharing our opinions and being asked to sort of censor what we say for the sake of other people.  If you’re allowed to gush over things that you enjoy in your personal space, why shouldn’t I be allowed to talk about things that I find upsetting or frustrating in mine?  To me, that seems like a bit of a double standard.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if people have such a problem with what others choose to talk about or how they choose to portray themselves, they’re under no obligation to stick around and to keep following us.  While that’s not something I think anyone aspires to have happen, we understand if it has to happen.  I think it’s only natural for people to want to be around those with similar interest and opinions and to want to seek out other avenues if those opinions don’t really mesh anymore.

When people say that they don’t understand why we keep bashing a game that we don’t play anymore, my response to that would be “Why do you keep listening to it?”  If it bothers you that much, you can choose to divert your attention away from such things.  Take that person off of your feed reader.  Remove them from your Twitter feed.  I’ve had people that I Follow that may have rubbed me the wrong way and I’ve chosen to distance myself from them for brief periods of time.  Once I’ve gotten over whatever bothered me about them, I go right back to supporting them, like nothing ever happened.  It’s not personal and it doesn’t have to be permanent, either.  Those options are there for a reason.

I don’t think this is a situation that has to lead to someone being right and someone inevitably being wrong.  I just think that people can exercise their freedoms a bit better, in all aspects, and that any conflict that comes out of something like this is really quite unnecessary.  It shouldn’t have to come to this.  We should all be able to say what we want to say and give people the choice of who they want to speak for them or to represent them.  I think the blogosphere would be a mighty boring place if everyone agreed with each other and had the same views on things.  I like that we all don’t get along sometimes and that we all want different things for ourselves and for other people.  To me, that’s a beautiful thing and I would never want that to change.  I would like to think that others feel the same and if they don’t, that’s OK.

That’s their choice.