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.

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.