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This is a difficult matter, and needs to be examined carefully. Guilds are not about numbers, one of the real reason why this is troublesome is because of prospective. This is an extremely long post, because it combines a few aspects of what you can expect of me. And that's as much of a warning as it is a boon.
Part 1 ----
The original statement
After my fourth can of Coca-Cola I had lost all track of time. I was captive to a new experience. Not even when I dabbled about in the depths of the hellish catacombs of Diablo, I was always disconnected from the game. But as day light broke over my shoulders from the window behind me, I had realized I had spent the entire night drawn into a game – forgetting I had a physical self, and thinking I was actually that character on the screen.
The year was 1997 and the game was Ultima Online. I understood then the power a well-crafted game could have over its users, and how it can consume the mind, the body, and the spirit. But ultimately I was alone. Though in a game-world populated full of people and a random encounter awaited me around every corner, it had not occurred to me that people banded together to form larger organizations. Call me naive if you will, but I really didn’t know people did that sort of thing.
The first time I really encountered the phenomenon was with the addition of The Abyss Shard. Created as a Halloween event for Ultima Online, the server turned then game complete on its head. Allowing players to transform into monsters via random portals scattered throughout the world and engage in brutal, pointless, and deliciously sadistic Player vs. Player madness. Now the server was only available for a few days, but those few days remain engraved in my memory to this day.
For it wasn’t the idea of player controlled monsters that excited me, it was the ultimate joke that the most powerful monsters in the game were humans. Special portals existed in key cities which transformed people into super-strong super-humans. Each character had highest stats physically possible, and was hand-given an infinite supply of regents. Other portals provided weapons and armor, but really no one used them. Everyone was just going around in death robes and helmets, filling the screen with numerous blips of “Corp Por”, the Energy Bolt spell; “In Vas Mani”, the Greater Healing spell; and “Rel Por”, the Teleport spell — and that was it.
A simple execution of infinite stats and supplies created a mad house of death and destruction. Yet in the madness the seed of order germinated. I found people banding together and forming factions on the fly, overnight entire cities fell under the control of organized player groups leading to mass battles on roof tops and in the churches as these warring factions fought to control the portals which birthed their outrageous powers. The streets literally ran red with blood, and bodies littered the roads. So much death filled the streets the death robes were stripped from bodies and used to create impassible walls to barricade doors and choke points.
Needless to say, it was fun — a LOT of fun. It was my first real taste of guild vs. guild style warfare on a massive scale, and since then it has been difficult to really find something to fill the void. So many games came close to it, so very-very close. Dark Age of Camelot was one of those games. The multiple factions did provide the numbers, but the onscreen lag I experienced and sheer amount of work I had to put into creating a character drew me away. Planetside was far better in its execution of putting people into the action much faster, and while I devoted myself to the military style massive PVP — in the end something was still missing.
Countless games followed, and I kept searching for that something that would fit my taste for large scale war and cooperation that didn’t require I sacrifice my life at the altar of fun. I’ve bounced around to many games, like an alcoholic visiting every bar in the city only to find they are all out of liquor, and it’s Sunday, and I’m in Salt Lake City for some reason. The itch hasn’t been scratched. I’ve not much of an FPS fan, and while the instant drop into brutal PVP is promising, it doesn’t have that kind of flavor I look for. I even tried AION, but that too required too much work to create a character, and half-way through raising that character I had to deal with murderous players gimping my process. Was it really too much to ask for a game to let me have fun, throwing around powerful spells and knocking heads with other fool-hardy, blood thirsty players only after a few minutes of turning it on? So far, it seems that way.
I’ve tried so many games. While they all seem to be so close, nothing really gives me that feeling that I don’t have to really break my neck to play with people who just want to have fun. So I suppose that’s why I’m here, writing this article in reflection. Because it unpacks my own inner desires of what it is I thirst for, and why it is I seem to have found myself captivated with Guild Wars 2. What it is that seems to scratch the itch, even when the very first Guild Wars failed so miserably to do so? All of these World vs. World videos being pumped out by the press of course!
I don’t know how many I’ve watched. I’ve lost track of time really. I know I’ve seen enough to have clocked in at the very least ten hours of solid gameplay in WvW alone. On top of that add another ten hours of watching basic gameplay. My experience with the game has not been hear-say forum posts or articles; I let the real McCoy speak for itself. And in the midst of it I find that I’m seeing a lot of what I experienced in Ultima Online, I’m seeing people shoot up in level quickly to jump right into the guttural fun of throwing abilities and spells at one another.
This is not the annoying FPS style of FURY; this is not the gun blasting, gunship peppered lands of Planetside; this is not the zerg infested frontiers of Dark Age of Camelot; this is Guild Wars 2 — a game which pretty much combines several formulas from several games and marries them rather expertly to create an extremely promising product. No, this does not mean that Guild Wars 2 is perfect and flawless; I am not saying that it is hands down everything I’ve ever wanted in a game; I am not saying that god is in his heaven and all is right with the world! I am saying that of all of the games I’ve played, this one looks like it has what I’ve been wanting, and that is why I’m going to buy it. I want to see with my own eyes, and determine then whether or not I should be overjoyed or disappointed.
Even if the game isn’t solid outside of the gate, who knows — maybe with a few patches it’ll be up-to-snuff, much like any other game out there. Now the only thing that remains is finding an organization that really speaks to me, you know, the kind of guy who plays casually but daily and still desires stern organization that isn’t like a job. You read that right. Maybe if it’s not the game that fails me, it’s the player base! With so many servers, so many worlds, so many peoples and a huge influx of new blood that comes and goes as the air is full of the lethal chemicals of new-game-smell — how do I find where I belong?
In some instances I’ve tried to make my own guilds, and make my own little pocket of players who have a good time. But let’s face it, I’m older now, I don’t have that kind of time and I really want to experience Guild Wars 2 in a way that really helps me experience the roles of warfare: the tactical stuff. Scouts, Squad Leaders, Spies, Commanders, etc: yeah, that stuff! Surely somewhere over the rainbow, someone-somewhere is putting together a guild for Guild Wars 2 that’ll kick off sometime in April. As the Open Beta Events begin and we’ve all dished out our $80 — we’re as hungry to sink our teeth into the game as the box of donuts we just bought to hold us over for the weekend.** Where are these people? Where can I find them? Where are those who are just like me, who thrive in the fun of a semi-serious gaming experience that requires so little time?
**Written prior to the first BWE.
I seek you out. And hopefully you seek me just as eagerly. For even if Guild Wars 2 fails and is an utter disappointment beyond all measure, all the world cracks in two, and the stars fall from the heavens — there will be other games, but I do not want there to be other guilds. I never really found a place where I belong. Hopefully this game will help me find a good group of people, for that is what really makes a game like Guild Wars 2 really worthwhile. Let me enjoy the game, and let me help you enjoy it too. Whatta-ya say?
Some additional details: US players, CST time zone, runs a business, working on MA degree, has microphone, uses profanity loosely and only when situations are pretty tense.
Part 2 ----
The Reflection Statement
This segment was written upon reflection after having difficulties with a Guild I've put a lot of effort into working with and still desire to be a part of and help build. I share this now because I want people to read it, not because I'm self centered -- but because I want people to have a very good grasp of just who I am and why it is I've spent 15-years looking for a Guild.
What is it I seek? What is it that drives me to do what it is I do? At present I find myself in an interesting position, one I haven’t exactly found myself in before. Currently I am in the blunt aftermath, having just been put on suspension from a dedicated gaming community that has been put together for Guild Wars 2. Now before your eyes turn away from this question of reflection and insight, I dare to interest you in the complexity of a mindset. This is not the first instance I’ve been asked to remove myself from a guild, but this is the first instance where I gave a damn.
Does this make me some sort of cynical bastard who is always eager to cause trouble? As much as I don’t think so, many others would likely beg to differ. For apparently what it is I share via the microphone is only prone to make many people uncomfortable. In the past I’ve opted to not talk much, even keep my microphone on low volume to blur out much what it is I say — in other instances I don’t talk at all. Does this resolve the problem? No. Because I find myself in the same position numerous times, and when it is this many times: there is little doubt I am the cause of the problem.
I can feel the shock easing, I can feel the blood settling, and I can feel the skin no longer flushed with heat. Does this mean that I’m over it? Of course not, for if I was I would not be taking time to look upon myself in reflection. To say that I’m a flawed character may be something of a cop out, an easy way to explain what is beyond any doubt difficult to grasp even for myself — much less anyone else. A flawed character suggests that there is an abnormality, something that isn’t normal, something that says I’m imperfect. Last I checked, all humans had some sort of imperfection.
Personality is difficult enough to map as it stands, and already I find myself striving to try and remap what has already been long established. I know what it is I like and I know what it is I don’t like, and many times I’m judged based on what it is I don’t like and ignored for what it is I strive for most. Despite having patience that is bordering on infinity in some respects, it is the fact that I have a dramatic lack of it in other respects that is prone to harm people’s opinion of me. This even leads people to believe I “lack patience”.
For instance, there are few people who could sit down and repeatedly coach someone for hours on end, answering questions, and making an effort to demonstrate much needed elements and fundamentals of a subject matter. In this matter, we speak of games, and the mechanics which go along with them. With so many people eager to achieve great things, so many people focusing on making themselves better — there is a rift created between people who have achieved and others who have not. As the game progresses that rift can quickly become wider, as those who have worked a while to perfect and practice their skills may quickly dominate a situation.
Those who have little-to-no experience may find themselves facing the great tidal waves of vicious players before them eager to grind them into naked rock. Only when the game begins and is young, there is a time when all the waves are subtle and small. There is a window when anyone can jump into the water and learn to swim. But after a time that water becomes violent and the experience of joining in may be a drastically different experience than people recall or know. I sympathize with these people, I do not like to see people having to sit on the beach and watch everyone in the water.
Without any doubt they want to ride the waves too, they want to jump in and have fun with the best of them. But that journey is very difficult alone. They need someone to come in and show them where to move and how to wade through the currents to find the right flow. I can spend hours and hours discussing what to do and how to achieve, freely and happily answering questions to try and really help someone meet the same skill level as myself to quickly move on and surpass me as I continue to show others the way. One of my greatest strengths is this ability to listen, talk, and coach. Yet why do people find me difficult to be around?
People who are taught by me to not find difficulty in my behavior, it is only those who see me doing things in which I am weakest at who really seem to catch wind of my personal frustrations and struggles to try and fit in. I like to build things and watch things grow, I like to be a part of that growth and see things develop. Guilds in particular are things I do enjoy watching develop and become established. These online “communities” connect people together and allow them to play with one another. A concept I adore, because in all my years I’ve always played alone and have longed to really be part of some sort of community effort that shares a familiar goal.
But each time I try to take part, it seems the Guilds don’t want me as much as I want them. I love to play with people, but people just don’t like what I say or how I act. But they NEVER take the time to tell me what it is about how I act or what I say that seems to anger them. They keep saying that I am supposed to better myself, that I am supposed to adjust my attitude, and that I am supposed to figure out how to be a better team player. According to me, I am… but that doesn’t mean anything because my point of view is clearly flawed. I just don’t know the exact things which set people off.
Furthermore, even if I did make an effort to improve — try to wash away years and years and years of mental instability, loneliness, isolation, anger, and frustration as if it were a stain I could just toss into the washer and be rid of after a double spin cycle. I get no credit for even little strides in behavioral improvement, I see no positive reinforcement. How am I supposed to gauge myself? How am I supposed to improve when others do not recognize my efforts?
I suppose what I seek is personal improvement. But just when I feel like I’m making some effort to really improve, I am pelted with previous instances where I’ve stepped out of line and held accountable for actions in the past. Three Strikes and you’re out. A flawed mentality and approach to bettering ones behavior and action, we do see how much that is working for our incarceration system. More people are in prison now than ever before, so that system is clearly working just fine. Now I find myself without purpose to improve or better myself, without real motivation.
I’m simply left out of the guild, out of the environment. When I’m out of the environment I return that which I’ve always known before, and seem to have all my efforts reset right back to zero again. Of course this is not how people within a Guild think. They are mainly worried about ensuring they have a good community for gaming. I understand that, and perhaps I may not be perfect for such an environment. Maybe I’m just the type of guy who is always pushing the rock up the hill, always about to reach the top before I stumble and am crushed by that bloody bolder once again. Left beneath the crushing weight of my own inability to overcome the bolder, I turn to resenting those who did not help ease the burden of it.
Of course it is not their responsibility to do that, now is it? “This is a not a behavioral improvement program” I was told. Those words cut like a knife. Because it is a behavioral improvement program, because people keep insisting I improve my behavior! What do they want me to do? Change over-night? The whole idea and concept of conforming my behavior is absurd in the first place, and it seems they insist I do it with a flip of the switch. It is a struggle at the very least, and I have yet to really meet anyone who has vastly changed their overall personality overnight — unless they suffered a serious head injury that is.
But I suppose the salt that smothers the wound, is that these behavioral missteps often occur when doing things I don’t like. We all want to enjoy ourselves and play games happily with one another. I don’t like many games, and In fact really can only count three of which I actually deeply enjoy and feel at peace while playing. When playing such games, I’ve not heard anyone complain about my personality, attitude, or express any words that may anger people. So this leads me to reflect even further. I recall now, all of those guilds I played with before were in games I didn’t even like — I just hoped playing with people would improve the experience… it didn’t.
So I suppose the difference is that I find myself looking at myself in a situation where I’ve been removed from a Guild for a game that I have only played briefly, Guild Wars 2. In that time I played, I was pleased and delighted — truly it was a game I will come to love and adore. But it seems my infractions within the guild itself were of games I didn’t actually like playing, and just played out of boredom, mild frustration, and hope to try and connect with people in a game environment. Did I make an effort to ruin someone else’s game experience? No. May I have inadvertently done something to upset them? Clearly.
So it would seem that I’ve been judged based on games I don’t like. They’ve assumed my behavior will overlap into Guild Wars 2, which is not going to be the case. Yet they do not know me deeply or intimately, they cannot take such great risks and go by what it is they see of me. I understand this. But it does reveal the flaw in the idea of making a Guild a community, or trying to pass it off as being one. For if it was a community, they’d make an effort to help one another — especially those who are struggling in other games. Again, no one seems to want to step aside and show me the path through the violent waters.
I suppose that’s why I’m so eager to help people. No one ever takes the time to help me. They make demands of me, but do little to help to see them through. I’m as disposable and replaceable as an employee on the job. “There is always someone else eager to fill your position, please step out of line again.” Who I am, what efforts I want to provide for the Guild, and how I want to spend my precious time to help it doesn’t come into account. Because it would see, Guilds are not communities at all, and they never will be. Communities help each other, and as much effort as I put forth to help others… no one ever helps me. And so my bitter outlook only grows.
For I continue to believe that what I seek, which is a group of people who can help me as much as I want to help them, is something I will never, ever find.
Part 3 ----
Tired of Hiding
I want there to be no question about who I am and what it is I seek. I don't have a lot of people in my life whom I can connect with, and this is not some sort of bleeding heart tale to gain the sympathy of others. I am human and I am making efforts to change who I am, but it is something that cannot be done alone. My great pleasure and join in life and in game is to help people and to coach them.
I find pleasure it tumbling about PVP with team mates and I enjoy hours and hours of planning for battles, drawing out maps, making diagrams and various other things. Structure and stability and the busy work of providing an rich experience is where I work best. I may not be the kind of guy who likes to joke around and talk BS in the wind.
More than anything, I want to help and benefit others --- trying to make them look good. I struggle to find people who really want to talk about those deep subjects I enjoy. People just want to play games, which is no surprise. Pardon me, for I admit, I do tend to take things pretty seriously.
I want to be an asset, and I'm a tough, tough cookie to win over. Trust me, not just any guild will do. That fact I've crafted a mile long thread like this is proof enough of that.
Temper Hoof ---