/afk with Real Life

I started this blog with the best of intentions, hoping to publish three to four pieces of content each week. Some of it short, trivial and fun (like the Postcards series) and others a bit more reflective on gaming in general.

However, RL (real life) has a way of intruding.

The wife caught one of those nasty flu viruses and the bub decided she didn’t want to sleep much. Work was also incredibly busy, with numerous budget and staff issues to attend too. The life of middle management is never dull. Well, it is dull. Just busy. It was I’d like to call WFH (week from hell). As far as metaverse activities where concerned, the best I could do was hold my Wednesday 9.30 Naxx raid spot.

So, now that the worst of the virus and sleep issues have passed, back to blogging.

Real Life v Metaverse: which do you prefer?

The whole last week made me think about the artificial split between “real life” and the metaverse gamers such as myself inhabit. MMO gamers are part human, part game accessory (transhuman as the more trendy part of sociology would have it) . We’re plugged into a virtual reality via a game client, which most of us customise via add-on programs to handle a data rich environment.

Compound this with the head sets we wear to participate in game chat (i.e. Vent) and we look like day traders or fighter pilots. We’re mean, lean metaverse fighting machines… and yet at the same time we live in the world of jobs, spouses, children and families.

Both can be demanding.

Committing to raiding is almost a life style choice. It requires an understanding of your class, boss fights and how to best work in a group. Research outside the game world can take hours per week. At the same time, I’m a father, husband and senior professional. These aren’t light personal commitments. How does one do justice to the other? What comes first?

Obviously RL does. It’s part of the tacit, unspoken code of all gamers. Raids can wait. The boss will respawn every week, and you can go back and kill him/her/them next week. My guild explicity states that RL always comes first.

However, during the WFH experience I experienced a moment that I’m sure any gamer/raider has felt:

“Gosh, I wish all I had to worry about was raiding. To hell with everything and everyone else!”

That fantasy of living in a small, remote shack with a kick arse web connection danced across my mind. I could grow my own vegetables, live a simple life and raid, write and blog.

“Perchance to dream…”

/sigh

But of course such fantasy life is not possible. But it did make me ask the question: “Where would I live? In the real world, or by magic I could live in Azeroth/Middle Earth/Earth Sea/Generic Fantasy World?”

Part of the attraction, which I may have already mentioned in passing, is the escapism that MMO’s and the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre’s offer. Playing the part of the hero is very attractive. In RL most of don’t feel that we are in control of our lives. Bad jobs, bad marriages, the stress of maintaining a mortgage. The world itself seems too much to deal with: terrorism, global warming, the global financial crisis.

All of it seems too damn hard. Most of it can’t be controlled by the individual. Your choices seem so limited. What difference can you make anyway?

So why wouldn’t the chance to play the part of a hero in a small community (i.e your “Guild”) not appear to be more attractive.

Running a dungeon with guild mates, downing a boss and healing your friends offers instant gratification, recognition and respect. You can see the difference you make. People will thank you for the part you play. You feel far more in control of this part of the “world”.

So dear reader(s): which do you prefer?

RL or that corner of the metaverse you’ve managed to call home?

RL/Metaverse Dualism: time to end the dichotomy?

The conclusion that I’ve come to over the years is that for some of us both RL and our place in the metaverse are equally important. I like to think I’m committed to my career, friendships, family and relationships as  any “normal” person. But the guild I belong too in WoW, and the people associated with that guild are also important in ways those outside the MMO community can’t understand.

I’ve been in my guild, Mortal Wombat, just shy of four years now. I joined not too long after the launch of WoW. I was an officer from the start and have continued to hold that role. I helped recruit, build a new web site and have acted temporary Guild Leader on more than one occasion. The guild has experienced it’s fair share of “drama”, but I’ve stuck with both the game and the same guild. I’ve developed a couple of very good, genuine friendships over the years (/waves at my dear friend).

In early 2008 the guild went through a profound crises as the then guild leader went into melt down and drove away most of the membership. A couple of us stuck around and helped rebuild it. Now, the guild is the strongest it’s ever been with two raid teams, a permanent roster of raiders and a “Naxx 25 man” about to start up.

It takes a village to make a guild

The experience of early 2008 was intense, as intense as a crisis I’ve felt in RL. I lost many “friends” during that time, people I’d gamed with for almost two years simply vanished. I felt genuine grief. However both myself and the new guild leader threw ourselves into rebuilding the guild. We did so, and the reformed guild is the basis the thriving community that exists today. I feel intensely proud of that achievement. The hard work paid off. I look at Mortal Wombat and think “I helped build this”.

Myself and others put these peole together. We built this website. We run our raids. We’ve been going strong for four years now.

/smiles

Now that I’ve entered the world of raiding, the respect of my fellow guildies is important. I’m keen to show I have what it “takes” in terms of commitment and effectiveness in my role of damage dealer (Retribution Paladin). We have some increadible tanks, healers and damage dealers in our raid teams. Getting a private tell form one of them saying “Great job” or “Good job Aug” makes me feel proud.

The best analogy for a truly successful guild is that of the “village”.

A small community, whose members are known to each other. Some you know better than others. Others are new, but are welcomed with open arms. Some of them leave, and are truly missed. Some are “expelled” for disrupting the life of the community.

In last nights Naxxramas raid the effectiveness of the team really began to show it self. It’s only the second week, and we’re starting to one shot bosses (i.e. we kill the boss on the first attempt without everyone in the raid group dying). After the final boss went down we congradualted ourselves on how much we had improved, even in that short period of time.

You could feel the pride within the group, the sense that we were growing together.

So where would I live: RL or Metaverse?

I choose both worlds.

I don’t see the need to draw a distinction anymore.

Friendships and relationships in the real world can be as fleeting or as deep as those in the metaverse. I enjoy the feeling of respect from friends, professional peers and guild mates. If I make a commitment to raid a certain night, it’s not simply because I want to “chase the purples” or see end game content.

I come because I’ve told the people in my community I’ll be there, and that they can rely on me. I’ll come hoping to demonstrate my willingness to learn and become an effective member of the raid team.

Yep, I choose both worlds.

The challenge, or the art, is in balancing both of these.

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