Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘friends’

There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Yours

At the beginning of Firelands, I made a mistake. I’ve acknowledged it before, but let me go on the record here to re-iterate that it was a mistake. It wasn’t the first time I’ve made it, but it was definitely the last. I switched characters so that I could play what I thought the guild needed instead of what I wanted to play. I’m not going to belabor this point because I’ve discussed it here, but I think this is seldom a good idea. Unless someone is really and truly unattached to any character and willing to play whatever (and I know there are people who are this way), you should always play what you want to play. Except that I didn’t.

So I took myself out of the running for a Dragonwrath. I was thrilled for the very deserving Fsob who received it, but selfishly I was always a bit sad. I’d danced when the legendary staff announcement came up at Blizzcon. I wanted to see the accompanying lore, I wanted to carry a piece of Warcraft history, and by gosh I wanted to be a blue dragon with jewelery. But I had done it to myself, and I told myself I would just have to suck it up. Except that Blizzard changed Real ID to allow people to run raids. “It would take too much time,” I said. “Isn’t it selfish?” I told Voss. He said, “Maybe it is, but you deserve it, and I’ll be there every night if you decide to do it.”

So on February tenth I posted on our guild forums to say that I was going to organize a Firelands alt run, probably normals, just for kicks. Anyone who wanted to could attend, and I’d find Real ID friends to fill in where necessary. I had big ambitions at first because interest seemed high so I thought I could organize a 25-person run. That didn’t happen the first time (although I did organize one 25 during the course of things!) But that Saturday we headed out to Firelands and we killed some fiery things. I didn’t realize at the time just how fortunate I am. Over the following three months, at least three people never missed a single Firelands run. Several more missed perhaps one or two, but were there for the majority of the runs. Voss held true to his word, and he never failed to tank the Firelands bosses for me. On weeks when Saturday wasn’t possible, we did it on Wednesdays because it was the only day that worked with everyone’s raid schedule.

For twelve weeks, a mixture of close friends and acquaintances came to Firelands because they wanted to help me and because I asked them to. Our little Firelands raid went from a “let’s clear through here on normals” to “let’s clear this thing on heroic every week” to “why don’t we pull heroic Ragnaros?” over the course of that time. We got to know each other better. I’ve had the chance to raid with friends who might not be in the guild but who are really fun, great folks. I organized that 25-person raid and it was nerve wracking. I’ve never organized a 25 for anything before; the sheer amount of organization and coordination required made me admit that I gained new respect for 25s folks (not that I lacked respect, but walk a mile in someone’s shoes, etc.) Each week everyone got together to do this and I couldn’t articulate my feelings about it. I experienced a mixture of excitement, guilt, awkwardness. Part of me couldn’t believe that I had friends like these, who would devote so many hours of their time to get me some pixels in a video game – because they knew it mattered to me, and so it mattered to them.

I don’t want to sound at all pompous or overstate the importance of Dragonwrath itself, though I will cherish it forever and it is my most prized virtual possession. There are many Dragonwraths out there, and many casters wielding them. But this one was pieced together by Fsob’s fireballs, Voss’ shield slams. I imagine each piece to have healing powers from Nowell, Itanya, Karanina, and sometimes Yahwen. It has Shaen’s elements, and Tassager’s bear butt, Bittersteel’s howling blast and Sara’s daggers. It even has some fel magic courtesy of Supplicium and DarthRegis, but we’re going to pretend otherwise. Apple Cider and Kurnmogh DPSed for me one night when we were really stuck without a tenth person! Solard and Cutaia and Rooster helped to tank, Beru, Tikari and Jasyla all had a hand in it. Killskillz, Priggle and Nyxy all helped to DPS. When I did my 25-person run, Korixa, Cordella, Oathblade, Luthvian, Tsunomi, Maelinixi, Fyriat,┬áRhuanious and Pix all came along. That’s a total of 31 people who helped out with Dragonwrath. I tried to be comprehensive but unfortunately I didn’t keep a running tally so if I have forgotten you and you attended, please know that I am so grateful to you and didn’t mean to leave you out. (Incidentally, there is going to be a special surprise for you Wednesday, May 23rd. Just check From Draenor With Love).

I do want to mention especially the people who were most instrumental in this endeavour: First of all, Vosskah, without whom I probably wouldn’t have organized the runs at all. As always, anything I do is made more fun when you’re by my side.

Nowell/Walks: You said that you would heal for me and you meant it, and you never missed a single run or complained although I know you weren’t really interested in Firelands at all. That means you were there especially to help me. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a friend like you.

Karanina/Snack: You said that you’d heal for me and made it clear that you weren’t taking no for an answer! It’s been a blast to rediscover Firelands with you alongside. You are an outstanding healer and a great friend. I’m thankful to know you and I hope someday I can repay your generosity of spirit.

Fsob: You are an indispensable part of Firelands for us; despite the smallest stature you never shirk from the largest tasks. Thank you for driving Rhyolith, assigning Baleroc, dog wrangling and flying through all those hoops with me. There’s no mage I’d rather have by my side. Mage mage, my friend.

All of my guildies: I hope you won’t mind me lumping you together, but I happen to think we operate best that way. For coming to Firelands to help tirelessly for so many weeks, I can’t thank you enough. You kept it from ever feeling like a chore to me. You are a fantastic bunch of people who brings excellence to everything you do. Thank you.

Last night when I siphoned that last essence from Baleroc and the moment approached when I’d be reaching the end of this three month task, all the words flew right out of my head. As I said, this is more than pixels, it’s more than a Dragonwrath. To me, it’s like carrying something that is a piece of friendship, kindness, and team work. I think it’s going to make me smile whenever I think of it. I don’t care that it’s a tier late, or that there are many other people out there with one. Dragonwrath itself isn’t unique, but the experience was unique to me. I’m left with only gratitude to everyone who had a hand in it, and most of all for Blizzard: who made the world that allowed me to find all of the people who gave me this great gift. Some of you I’ve met in real life and some I hope to meet someday, but it’s not geography that determines friendship. Last night culminated in a Stormwind rooftop party including a bunch of off-server folks who had seen the Dragonwrath ceremony a million times but they wanted to see mine. You all helped to make it special, and we created enough of a rumpus that random people flew in and said, “What is this?”

This is my friends helping me celebrate something we made together. It’s the spirit of this game for me, and everyone who helped is an indispensable part of that.

Others’ Endings Are Not My Endings

I’m generally a very empathic person, and that’s true in my ‘real life’ as well as my gaming one. When it comes to board games, my friends know I’d rather play one where we all work together rather than compete. It’s a big reason why I took to MMOs so readily. Oh, I’ll PvP sometimes, but what I love about MMOs and what I love about WoW is working with a group of other people towards a common goal. It’s kept me engaged in this game for almost three years. When you laugh, I laugh with you. When you cry… sometimes it’s hard for me to recognize that the reason for your tears isn’t actually anything wrong in my life, I become so upset on your behalf.

Learning to recognize when the emotions and feelings of others are affecting me too much is probably going to be a lifetime thing for me. It comes and goes, and it depends on where I am in my life. As Voss and I have dealt with his father’s illness and the natural fears and feelings that arise from that, it’s been a bit harder for me to detach myself from the feeling of the WoW community fracturing, diminishing. For a few weeks, it felt to me like every time I opened my feed reader another blogger was closing their doors. It began to be draining. It makes a person wonder, “Is there something I’m missing? Am I still here only because I refuse to admit that I should be leaving?”

I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve been struggling to write here, not for lack of ideas – I’ve started at least six blog posts over the past week, each one that I think would make a great post! But I get distracted, and I don’t seem to be able to finish them. My writer’s block is not the same thing as being ready to leave or ready to stop, although I think it could have picked a better time. (Is there ever a good time for writer’s block?) I’m sure it’s especially difficult to be one of the ‘old guard,’ bloggers who have been at this for many years. It’s always tough to see your contemporaries leaving. That feeling of loss and uncertainty has threatened to drag me in, too, but I realized something today.

I still have things to say. I still have people to talk to, and the WoW community brings me so much. You’re not even remotely done listening to me ramble, and I think that’s okay. In the wake of Tam leaving, and again with Larisa’s decision to stop blogging, I’ve heard people say things like “We can’t ever be the same without them,” or suggest that the end of their blogs is somehow a sign of the end. It’s bothered me that some comments seem to be that there will be nothing of quality left. In a way, people are right. The community can never be exactly the same as it was when Tam brought his philosophic ramblings to bear on it. We will miss Larisa’s cheerful hearth. It won’t be the same, because it’s going to be different, but not because it’s ending.

New bloggers are opening their doors all the time. Some of us are still going strong and nowhere near ready to quit blogging. There was a series of blogaversies that has stretched from December through January, and these are the people whose enthusiasm for blogging I have shared, contemporaries and colleagues, friends and friendly rivals. We haven’t gone anywhere, our voices are still here. Don’t miss reading an excellent blogger because he/she isn’t a blogger that’s come before. We can’t duplicate the exact approach or personality of those big names, but there are plenty of us still well-worth reading, and new ones joining our ranks all the time.

The unfortunate thing with being empathic is that it’s easy to read others with complaints or feeling tired about the game and to “catch” that feeling. Then you start to wonder if it’s you, too, if it’s just time to move on, if you’re finished. It’s okay to wonder that, and it’s okay to stop blogging too. But make sure if you do that it’s actually your feeling you are addressing, and not just a reaction to change. I hate change, myself. I hate when voices I’ve come to expect are no longer here for me. But I also feel that there are many voices left that I love listening to; many of us with a passion for the game and the words we write about it.

I have a challenge for you, whether you are a blogger or just someone who enjoys reading blogs.

If you’re a blogger: Find a new blog today that looks promising, that you enjoy. Link to it on your blog. Leave an encouraging comment! The Blog Azeroth author introduction forums are a place where new bloggers can introduce themselves, and you can surely find a gem there. What I’m talking about doesn’t even have to be a new blog, though, even just ‘new to you!’. You can find great treasures in people’s blogrolls if you browse around. Link love, recognition, and feedback are what make us more than just a random grouping of people talking to nobody in particular. They keep us together, they make us a community. Instead of being upset that some of the paragons of the community have moved on (although of course, pay them a respectful, loving, or tearful farewell) – today I intend to focus on people that are still here. It’s our attitude and recognition of each other that will ensure we continue to be engaged and enthusiastic about blogging.

For my part, I’ve started reading Stubborn over at Sheep The Diamond recently, and I’ve found his words funny and insightful. His is a new voice I’ve been quite glad to hear!

Here’s my second challenge, for non-bloggers. If you have found a blog recently that you enjoy reading, if you appreciate the content there – whether it’s guides, points of view, or just something to make you laugh – leave a comment. It doesn’t have to be a LONG comment, and you don’t have to leave twenty comments a day on various blogs. But taking the time to comment is a huge part of what encourages bloggers to keep going. Knowing that people are reading but not saying anything can be worse than knowing that nobody is reading. Even if it’s just a comment saying, “Thanks for taking the time to compile this information, it’s been really helpful.” Knowing that I’ve helped someone, or made them think or even just brought a smile to their face makes my day. It’s part of what has kept me blogging for over a year, and why I see myself continuing to blog in the future. I don’t know any bloggers that don’t love to receive a comment. We thrive on it, because it lets us know that people care about what we have to say.

So leave a comment, link a blog, read a blog, and remember that there is a vast community of players of all stripes writing about a multitude of topics – and that’s what makes our community so awesome and will keep us strong for a long time to come.

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