Coming Back and Keeping it Fun

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Creeperella gets her groove thang on at the Shrine of Two Moons.

I went and took a break from WoW for a while, opting to hop among my free games and SW:TOR (which doesn’t run very well on my computer) and found that there was something missing — namely the familiarity, the setting I enjoyed, and the friends I had made.  This isn’t to say that WoW is perfect or that I’m going to be here forever, but that I never actually intended to permanently leave and that it was nice to get out into something else.

The problem that I find that I have with any game is this whole “keeping it fun” thing.  The good thing about games of WoW’s nature is that they tend to have a lot of other, little things for you to do beyond the main game — like pursuing achievements, gathering pretty gear sets, experimenting with different alts, or trying occasional challenges.  Roleplay, too, is near and dear to my heart.  Previous to taking a break from World of Warcraft, though, I had found it really difficult to step into RP — although I don’t find it an easy thing to do, I’ve been doing it more often and I’ve been enjoying myself.  That part, the feeling that I get after a round of roleplay, after having some fun?  That’s what keeps me going back to it.

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Ta-Kei and Mei-Tan.

When it comes to keeping WoW fun, I find that it comes down to the people that I’m surrounding myself with.  If not for the people I’ve met through the game, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly so much — even if I’m not playing with them, they’re still about.  I still chat with them.  Some of my most meaningful relationships are because of “that damn game” — I wouldn’t have met my boy if it wasn’t for World of Warcraft, even, and I wouldn’t keep coming back if it wasn’t for adventures.

Most recently, him and I have been occasionally playing a TankMonk/HealyShaman pair and a TankMonk/TankMonk pair (with me healing in both occasions, shock and horror).  It’s been fun.  Being on Skype at the same time means that communication is faster and easier (though I feel I know him well enough to have an idea of what sort of crap he’s going to pull), plus, if people are being bad we can vent about it and plan our rebellion.

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Alanada shows Creeperella some of the sights of Pandaria.

Along with that, Telystra and I have been running dungeons on our 70s druids, with her healing and me tanking.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love druid tanking?  No?  I love druid tanking.  To say that she puts up with a lot from me as a tank is an understatement, though she also knows her shit and is pretty damned good at making up for my “oh whoops that other group joined in LOLOL OKAY FACEROLL TIME” shenanigans.  Once I latch onto something it doesn’t go away — that’s pretty amazing for me.

Between that, roleplay with people I know and people I don’t, plus pursuing achievements and alts — while taking occasional breaks with other games — I think I’ve been managing to keep it fresh for myself.

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Pet-hunting has helped, too.

 

Gold, Games, and Guhwha.

In May, I started helping Alyzande of TheGoldQueen.com with e-mails — then, as now, she was having difficulty keeping up with the volume of e-mail she was getting and hired me on to help.  Since then, I’ve been sporadically working on helping people out with their gold-making woes.  It’s been a nice enough run that I’ve said that her being a business reference is more than enough payment for me and her friendship is an even better bonus.  ;)

If you do not read The Gold Queen, you should.  I enjoy her writing style and the fact that she combines making gold with ethics — and is even ethical about making gold — is something that’s fairly unusual to me, after spending so long reading The-Goblin-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (and who I no longer read).  Although kind folk among the WoW community are not as rare as we like to think, they are still a breath of fresh air since they’re so quiet that we sometime forget that they exist — so go visit her.

I’ve been poking at non-WoW games in what little spare time I have, too, and broke down to purchase Guild Wars 2 several days ago.  I enjoy it so far, even if I don’t really understand the combat system, and I am enjoying my Charr thief.  I’m waiting for Star Wars: The Old Republic to go F2P before I try playing it again, though I seriously prefer Star Trek Online.  I hop into Champions Online and Lord of the Rings Online sometimes, too, and I’ve even started completely from scratch in LOTRO because I… forgot how to play my hunter, so.

The Harbingers of War has their first major event in months last night.  We arched from Hillsbrad to Arathi Highlands, and at the end of the road the entire unit was stuck with a terribly nasty surprise — a trio of goons from the Undercity that arrested Matojo and declared the Harbingers to be dissolved.  With Teaghue now in the driver’s seat, what will happen?  Are the Harbingers doomed, or will they come back stronger than ever?  What will happen to Matojo?

“We’ve got company.”

(Special thanks to Sebrawyn and Pook for volunteering to play a pair of cronies for Kekoa.)

Once we get going a bit more, the Harbingers of War Brag ‘n Brawl will be starting up again, and we’ll be working on becoming stronger than ever as a guild and a group of friends.  I don’t know when we’ll be able to hold a proper meet-and-greet in real life again, but one day!

Thorium Brotherhood has also yielded several surprises for me, with a player asking for grudges to be dropped and another one being far friendlier than expected.  I am certainly not complaining and I enjoy the banter with people I couldn’t banter with before, I just hope it lasts!

If you’re interested in checking out the Harbingers, visit us on Enjin.  There may be a Wyrmrest Accord branch of us opening up sooner or later, with cross-realm events taking place, so keep your eyes peeled for that.  ;)

Real life, however, has been exceptionally busy.  I am not going back to school this year, and even if I could the first year of my program has changed so dramatically that I would almost want to just start over again.  I have been living with my parents and working at the grocery store that I worked at as a teenager!  It’s amazing how things never really change all that much.  One day I will be able to go back to living in my own home, or maybe just on my own in general, but that day is not today.

I hope you are all doing well and looking as forward to Mists as I am.  I cannot wait to have a lady Pandaren rogue, that’s for sure.  ;)

How Online Games Help Me Cope

Most that know me through World of Warcraft are aware that I have Depression — even one or two of my non-WoW readers are aware, as they have heard me talk about it.  Most know that I am not afraid to make mention of this illness since I feel very strongly that we should talk about these things.  If we remain silent, our illnesses will continue to be considered taboo topics and people will keep thinking stuff that isn’t actually true about them.

Depression is a mental illness that is characterized by long-term feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, a loss of interest in hobbies, excessive sleeping (or trouble getting any sleep), issues concentrating, and other related problems.  It can be treated with medication and/or therapy, and recovery time varies depending upon the individual.  PubMed Heath has an article about depression for those that would like to do some light reading (yes, I use adf.ly — I don’t have a lot of money coming in, so clicks help).

This has everything to do with the post.

I started into online gaming with Diablo 2, though I never formed any long-term friendships there (even though I joined a clan or two, I was too shy to really reach out), and before that, I was in online text-based roleplay.  None of the people I knew during my IRC days are still in contact with me, so I can’t say that’s really had a huge impact on the me of today — it taught me how not to roleplay, and it taught me that people are really bizarre, but that’s about it.  It wasn’t until Runescape that I met my first set of long-term online friends, and they set the stage for what would happen in World of Warcraft.

When I started playing World of Warcraft, I was in my second year of a college program that I wasn’t very impressed with, and I mainly started playing because a friend got me into the game.  I thought I would have the opportunity to play with him, but that did not actually happen.  I rolled my first official toon, a Troll rogue, and struggled with leveling her until I started reading up on and understanding the class.  I found a guild or two, but nobody really grabbed my attention.

An unfortunate instance of Eredar’s forums trolling Thorium Brotherhood’s forums led me to roll on the server.  I started with a Troll priest named Mamalana, and I jumped into the roleplay scene as best I could.  I was welcomed with open arms.  That was the time when I met the people that would have the biggest impact on me and who hooked me up with the guild I’ve been in for the past six years: The Harbingers of War.

I fell in love with the server and the people.  There were lots of other women playing there, the roleplay was fun (and I desperately needed fun at a time in my life when I was terribly unsatisfied with what I was doing), and it sparked creativity in me that I thought was lost.  When server transfers opened up, I moved Talasha — my rogue — from Eredar to Thorium Brotherhood and she eventually became the first of my characters to join the Harbies.

No matter what anyone has said about me, no matter what I’ve said or done, no matter what has happened, these people have helped me to feel especially loved.  On top of that, upon entering the blogosphere and joining Twitter, I found another legion of amazing people that were all connected by their love of WoW and MMOs in general.  As someone that has a hard time making friends in a face-to-face capacity, the online world has been a boon.

Online gaming has saved my hide by giving me honest, genuine friendships that have survived my various internal issues (such as my temper and depressive episodes), and have proven to me that awesome people are out there, I just have to look.  If not for the people I have met through WoW, Twitter, and Livejournal as a result of my gaming habit, I would be in far worse shape than I am today — I thank you all for everything that you’ve done, even if you don’t think you have done anything.  You have.  You listen, you pick me up when I’m down, and you help me understand myself and just plain feel better about everything.

Every single one of you is awesome.  Thank you.

P.S.  My family helps me feel loved every day, but that extra that comes from my friends, fellow bloggers, Twitterati, guildies, etc., is just as strong and just as helpful.  I do not, ever, at any point, feel unloved by the people in my life — this little group of people that I have not met (well, for the most part: I met Kim in Toronto a couple years ago ;)   ) picks me up when others simply can’t, or don’t understand what I’m down about.

A Short Update on M-312

The blogosphere has been alight with activity surrounding Motion 312, and I’m happy to say that the petition against it has managed to break the 6k signatures mark.  The fight isn’t over yet, and it won’t be over for quite a while, so keep circulating the petition and don’t give up.

Check out other blog posts on the issue at DAMMIT JANET!, along with a list of Pro-Choice and Undecided MPs’ e-mail addresses (provided by Laura) in the comments.  Fire some e-mails off if you haven’t already and encourage those undecided MPs to vote NO to Motion 312!

I suggest watching DAMMIT JANET and the blogs on their list for further updates, as they will have a better idea of what’s going on than I will.

While you’re at it, give Irrational Humans by PZ Myers at Free Thought Blogs a read.  It’s a great article.

I will be going back to posting on stuff relating to WoW and Roleplay soon enough, though don’t be surprised if social justice issues like this show up more often.

Feminism is Important

[Trigger Warning for mentions of sexual assault, anti-feminist anything.]

Now, more than ever, Feminism is important.

In the WoW blogosphere, a lot of people have had some pretty terrible opinions about women in gaming and the Feminist movement.  I will not be linking to those terrible opinions here because I do not feel that they deserve the extra bandwidth, and I am quite happy to report that one of those dangerous (yes, dangerous) voices apparently decided to stop blogging because of the backlash that she received.

In the past one-hundred or so years, women in North America have gained the right to vote, own property, and not be treated as chattel by the men in their lives.  We are not out of the woods yet, and we may not be for some time.

I have been told before that I should stay silent, that there is nothing that I can do and that obviously means that I shouldn’t speak up or attempt to do anything at all.  The problem with this viewpoint is that if we remain silent, if we don’t say, “this is not appropriate” and “this is not true”, nothing will happen at all.  A little bit of progress is better than none, and the angrier we are about it, the more likely our voices will be heard.

Before the internet, before WoW and the WoW blogosphere and a certain livejournal community, I thought “Feminism” was a four-letter word.  I wasn’t a feminist!  I thought men and women were equal!  I knew that women were not treated equally to men, deep down, and didn’t start to understand that until high school.

You see, there were debates in one of my high school English classes and one of the subjects that was brought up was, “Are women better off now than in the past?”  I stood for the “No, not outside North America” camp where I wound up with two males defending that viewpoint – the other side was all women – and I did much of the research on the subject.  I learned about the situation women in the Middle East were in, the plight of women in Africa that are dying from AIDs because they can’t get access to condoms that would save their lives (it’s not their place), and on, and on.

I did most of the debating for my side.  I think the males were hoping for an easy mark, but I didn’t care because I had this knowledge and I wanted everyone in class to understand.

I didn’t really start to “get it” until after starting into WoW and discovering WoW communities on Livejournal, which then lead to me finding various social justice communities and bloggers that made me understand that the opinions I had were shitty and dismissive of other people.  In the past three years, I have changed a lot — for the better.  I have a lot more growing to do, a lot of myself to learn to understand and accept.  I still have a ton of baggage from growing up in a society that says that women must fit in this one box and they are not allowed in other boxes, that women are at fault for their own assault if they don’t follow a certain set of rules, and many other troubling things that eat away at you and cause you to lash out at other women because that is what society has trained you to do.

In some ways, I guess I understood that this idea of women only doing certain things was Wrong.  I wanted to be a Paleontologist (until I learned they only made $35,000 per year, and at that time I was made to believe that I had to make $100,000 per year to be able to survive — bullshit), I played with “boy toys” (I was derided constantly as a kid for wanting to play in the sandbox and play with toy cars, Transformers and Ninja Turtles “like a boy”) and constantly tried to tell other kids that there was no such thing.  I only wanted children ’til I was 14 because I didn’t understand what was involved and I thought that was what I was supposed to do.  Once I went through sex education (thank goodness) I realized it was not something I actually wanted, no way, no how, and developed a very strong “DO NOT WANT” feeling in regard to child-rearing, pregnancy and childbirth.  I also understood, vaguely, that sexual assault isn’t the victim’s fault – but it still took me over twenty years to realize that I had been assaulted, myself, regardless of the age of the person that touched me.

Perhaps the groundwork for those changes in view had been laid long ago, subconsciously, and I just didn’t realize it.

The Feminist movement isn’t perfect.  In its current form, its erasure of women of colour is extremely troubling, extremely problematic, extremely wrong; its treatment of trans* individuals as not one of us is extremely wrong.  White women talk over black women when we should be stepping back and letting them talk, because they go through shit we can’t possibly understand because we are white and our capacity for understanding the plight of women of colour is not… quite there, so we have to learn to listen, too.

Even with its imperfections, it is important.

By the way? A trans woman is a woman.  There are no exceptions.  If you identify as a woman, you are a woman, that’s it, case closed.

Apple Cider posted a very important article on the subject of Feminism in light of discussions this week (I use the term “discussion” loosely) that I implore everyone to read.  Do it.  Read it.

Decoding Dragons has a post on Sexism & WoW that’s collected interesting, pro-feminist articles in one spot for easy reading.  Check that out, too, and add Decoding Dragons to your blog roll.

Bullying: It’s a Thing, Even in WoW

Lodur over at Way of the Totem posted about (Trigger Warning for mention of suicide and other related things) his experiences with bullying and an instance run this evening brought the topic to mind again.

I’m a fat chick.  I was bullied as a kid because of my weight and because of my interest in “boy’s toys” (hint: toys are toys they are not meant for one gender at a time), so the subject of bullying is one that hits close to home.  Any one of us that doesn’t fit societal “norms” is bullied every day by the media and the idea that what we are isn’t “normal”, but that’s another topic for another day.

Over the past decade or so, online bullying has stepped into the spotlight, and rightfully so – anonymity of the internet makes it so much easier for people to say nasty shit and not suffer the consequences.  The concentration tends to be on getting the victim to “buck up”, to not be so “weak”, and it’s rarely on the bully to … fix their shit and stop being a dick.

As a result, it is considered acceptable to be a jerk on the internet and that just isn’t right.  It’s a set of behaviours that the gaming community seems to support by virtue of not stepping up and saying “that is not okay”, or by turning the complaint around to hurt the victim of the behaviour.  When a woman says “I did not like the behaviour of this major gamer toward me”, the proper response is to call him out on his shit, not to tell the woman, “Well, you came into this hobby knowing what to expect so you should just deal”.

Several weeks ago, I wound up in a Wailing Caverns with a bunch of people including a low-level druid.  The druid decided to go bear form, and I was annoyed at first because he wasn’t the tank, so I expressed my annoyance and received no response.  It wasn’t until he got lost by running off to kill raptors on his own that I realized he was new to the game and my attitude changed entirely – I ran off after him and got him to follow me to where the rest of the party was, and I started giving him advice alongside the tank.  He seemed to warm up to us, and the guy that wanted to call him names was shot down relatively quickly.  The run was pleasant, despite the silly stuff that was happening, and I learned a valuable lesson.

A lot of us are far too quick to jump on somebody for being “bad” at this game, when we’ve had years to get used to how it works, years to understand its mechanics and the resources available to get better.  A lot of people immediately jump to insulting someone’s intelligence, their home life, their sexuality, and everything under the sun over their performance in a video game.  This is not acceptable.  I do not care if you are in a high-end raiding guild that’s pushing progression content, it does not give you license to be an asshole to your fellow humans.

Last night, I ran into an individual who felt that “retard” was a totally cool thing to call somebody that didn’t seem to understand the game.  Another low-level druid was not doing very well when it came to dealing damage (people actually pay attention to damage meters in Stockades, really?) and seemed to be utterly clueless about what they were doing.  The shaman in the group decided it was a great idea to be an asshole to this person and call them a “retard”, I reported them, and both times a vote -kick was initiated I turned it down (I’m assuming the healer did, too, as I think he was of a similar mindset to me).  At the end of the run, I told the druid where he could find guides on balance druidry and wished him better luck with other runs.

There’s a real person on the other side of that computer monitor.  You don’t know what their life is like, you don’t know if they’re using the game to escape from a shitty home life or anything about them, really, and assuming the worst – getting on the offensive right from the get-go – isn’t awesome at all, it’s just plain shitty.

Bullying is a problem, online and off, and it will continue to be a problem as long as we, as a community and as a species, continue to support the bully’s right to say whatever they want to without consequences … and as long as we continue to just let the victims flap in the wind.

Born on Thorium Brotherhood, Refuse to Die There

I am the Warcaller of the Harbingers of War.

That is to say, Matojo is the Warcaller of the Harbingers of War and I am the person that people look to to make decisions about the guild and its future.

HoW is the thing that brings me back to WoW over and over again. The people in that guild have helped keep me relatively sane over the past five years, and I guess it was inevitable that I’d wind up as the figurehead, so to speak, of the guild – if all those people disappeared entirely from my world I don’t know what I would do, it makes sense that I’m also now in a position where people think I’m in charge.

The guild is a strange beast in that the Warcaller isn’t, on an OOC level, actually the boss. Yeah, they make the final decisions on things and their word is the word of God, so to speak, but the entire guild is the sort of environment where everybody listens to one another and we’re all huge perverts. I’m not treated like a boss, I’m treated like a friend, and that’s pretty cool. It also helps that we haven’t had drama since we had to kick somebody out for being a terrible stalker and not understanding the IC/OOC divide, so none of us have really had to put on our Office Faces.

So, when members speak up on how Thorium Brotherhood no longer feels like a roleplay server, and that being on Wyrmrest Accord has really made them miss their TB characters – I’m listening, because I feel the same way.

Up until last year, I believed that the only reason people couldn’t find roleplay on Thorium Brotherhood and other old roleplay servers was because they weren’t looking hard enough, or they had developed such a horrible reputation that nobody wanted to roleplay with them. In some cases, this is still true – but there are, I realize, situations where the roleplay has gone so far underground that the environment is no longer a good one for public roleplay.

Things on TB were great until Cataclysm burn-out took place, and then a lot of people wandered off – even myself. I’m still toying with some free-to-play games, SW:TOR (though it doesn’t play nice with my system), and poking at WoW when the feeling hits me.

There does come a point in a server’s life where roleplayers are pushed out by those who do not understand the server classification system, by those who grief whatever roleplay they find (thinking it to be a terrible, terrible crime), and similar issues. It starts small, when people give up on reporting anti-RP behaviour because Blizzard’s reliance on communities to police themselves and report until their fingers hurt is not particularly effective. Then, gradually, that behaviour pushes people underground until they’re afraid to roleplay out in the open (because the griefing is that painful) or, in this expansion’s case, the roleplay trails off as people become tired of the game. When people were trying to tell us that the server was dead oh, at the launch of Cataclysm, they were incorrect. If someone told me that roleplay was, for the most part, dead now I would have to agree.

Bringing roleplay out into the open and cultivating an environment that’s friendly to roleplay and supportive of those that choose to engage in it is a lot of work. It requires patience, it requires time, it requires resources – things that most of us, right now, don’t have. If someone took it upon themselves, right now, to say, “I’m going to do my best to help cultivate a positive environment for roleplay on Thorium Brotherhood,” I would support them. I would be more supportive of someone new doing it because, chances are, they would not deny me the chance to offer said support – but if someone current was doing it I’d support them, too, if they’d let me. ;)

Right now, most of us just do not have the time, energy, spoons or fucks to give to do this. I spent several years attempting to contribute, even if I wasn’t in a very good mental place to contribute much, and I am not in a place where I can do it anymore.

I am not going to tell people not to roll on Thorium Brotherhood. There are still some good people there, and the server will gain new people as time goes on that are also decent. If you roll there for roleplay, be prepared to put a lot of work into the community and be prepared to do a lot of reporting and a lot of fighting for your space.

We do not have the energy to do that fighting anymore.

There’s the hope that Mists of Pandaria will bring some life back as roleplayers that left for other games will return to see the new content, but a lot of us aren’t holding our breath. I’m hoping. MoP is going to change a lot of stuff, after all!

It may not be enough.

I am looking for a new home for the Harbingers of War in the hopes that we can continue our stories in a more roleplay-friendly environment. This week, I will start poking at servers that have been recommended to me by dear_gnome on Livejournal, testing the waters and  getting information that I can then pass on to my harbies. I’m also working on amassing a small fortune so that any Harbingers that decide to re-roll instead of transferring will have some gold and bags waiting for them in the freshly-transferred guild.

With any luck, if we decide to move, we’ll be continuing our adventures and going back to doing what we do best – yelling drunkenly at passers-by.

The Drawing of Winter’s Veil

That made more sense as a title in my head.

Winter holidays are still on for students such as myself, while some are drawing to a close for many. My classes start again in January – I have mixed feelings about this! – and with that, I go back to my small job. That I’m looking forward to!

Night-time starts early, with the sun going down around 4:30pm every day, and there’s a thin sheet of snow on the ground. The gifts have been opened (socks! I was excited about SOCKS! I must be an adult), the food has been eaten (mostly), and other people are doing more shopping.

I received a surprise gift from a beloved friend today, which I’ll be digging into later in the week when I’m at home and have some time to myself to enjoy the voice acting. Thank you, Kar! <3

All-in-all, the winter holiday has been fairly nice to me this year. I’m still looking forward to going home and getting back to the city (especially considering I have a poor Bettafish that’s in need of a tank cleaning), but, no complaints!

I hope all of you have had a pleasant winter holiday, as well as the opportunity to enjoy whatever winter presents to you. As much as I dislike the cold, winter is still a magical time of year – the land goes to sleep for the season, winter birds come out of hiding (and they’re so freaking adorable), everything transforms and the province’s not-so-rare Terrible Winter Drivers show up on the scene.

In World of Warcraft news, don’t forget to nab your winter gifts: there’s a special, brand new gift this year that you… ought to at least see, even if you don’t grab one for yourself.

Merry Yule, Happy Winter Veil, and have a wonderful New Year.