Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Positively Chipper Casual

That's me, folksy folk. Chipper man in the flesh. At least, that's how I feel now that I am a true-blue casual player of not only WoW but all other games I roll every now and then. There is a tangible relief and sense of freedom every time I log in (which isn't as much the last few weeks due to how awful my back as been feeling). The fact that I can play which whichever of my 25 toons I wish, do anything with them when I do log on, and stop any time I like, even in the middle of an instance if the mood takes me (which is hasn't, I'm just saying it might), means the world to me.

On my main's realm, I intentionally keep multiple alts out of my main's guild so that I can experience gameplay on that server from different perspectives, either other guilds or guildless. I'll take freedom over all things, whether it's gold, gear, or honor, the freedom to be my own, on my own, helps to keep my batteries charged and going forward in an age of a new type of burnout.

I'm free to go back to raiding, or participate in rated BG's, but I choose not to. True, there are real life reasons why I don't raid, but I could ignore those and raid anyway. It wouldn't be smart, but nobody can stop me if I did.

Freedom of mind and soul is an unparalled joy in my little gaming world. To stop mid-way through a quest and literally stop and smell (or pick) the flowers, to fly high and take in the views of a new world that I have yet to see all of, even months after the Cataclysm. Casual play is my new best friend, (which means I'm sorry to my previous best friend, my invisible friend Frank who used to tickle me while trying to heal ICC - that led to more wipes than I care to admit).

Freedom is serene, it is strength, it is music and it flows through my fingertips endlessly as I press 2, 3, then 2, then 5, 6, oops, I got to interrupt, -, then 9, 2, 3, 5, 4, 4, 5! Sometimes, when I'm feeling really rebellious, I'll open with a 7, then a 3 then a 2. Sorry 2, you aren't always my first choice of spell, sometimes I need to 7 and you'll just have to get over it.

Ugh, all this burnout talk on the "internets", I need to stay away from it, I need to jump on my mount and fly above it into the far reaches of the cloudless skies towards the sun that frankly isn't all that hot. What? Forget it, I'm just walking while I'm talking.

What's my point? Well for me I've found great solace in my casual gametime, grace has given me the freedom that I've sought (whether I knew it or not) for a very long time. Gaming is supposed to be fun, and fun is what this chipper bloke is having right now.

On, on to victory! Freedom shall be ours!!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

There's No Crying in MMO's!

Thanks to actor Tom Hanks, we know that "There's no crying in baseball". I guess certain basketball players from the Miami Heat didn't get that memo, or at very least didn't watch that movie, as their coach threw them under the bus the other day saying during a press conference that there were a coupld players in their locker room crying after a particularly difficult loss.

But what about gaming? Is there crying in gaming? I'm not referring to complaining, but rather real emotional outpouring in the form of real tears, difficulty breathing, all out crying. Should I share anything that's ever happened to me where I allowed myself to cry or perhaps stopped myself? Maybe...I'll think about it.

What brings on that powerful manifestation of emotion anyway? Death? Joy? Pain (physical or mental, etc)? Certainly everyone has different thresholds, different breaking points for different situations. I just wonder how much crying in front of the monitor actually goes on in online gaming. What would cause you or me to flood our cheeks with the salty moisture of the entrance to our souls?

Crying in General
I just had this talk with my kids the other day, where they mentioned to me that "if you cry in school your life, your reputation, everything that you love and want out of school will be destroyed...forever...never to recover." A bit of an overreaction, I suppose, but what do you expect from an 8 and 10 year old boy? My basic stance on crying is this: There's a time and place for everything, usually, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with crying in general. It would be wise, like my kids say, to control yourself in public if you can. But there are definately circumstances where it's acceptable to cry in public, for example if you were told of a death in a public place, everyone would understand your emotional response, even mean little kids in elementary school.

Crying is natural, we were all born crying, or cried soon after birth and long into our first few years of life. It's a means of communication, it let's people know that we have a need, whether that's physical or emotional comfort, and let's others know that we deem some issue important. Frankly I despise the macho male society that I live in. Especially in sports. As a "MAN" I'm not supposed to cry, like ever. I'm supposed to, per some unwritten cultural rules, remain stone faced and play the role of the tough, good solier. THAT'S BULL CRAP! There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING WRONG WITH CRYING. Anyone who says any different is, in my sole-important opinion, mentally disturbed and example of a repressive household. How are humans supposed to make any lasting bonds if their not allowed to express their true emotions? We're NOT animals, we're above that, our capacity to think and feel make us so.

But I still teach my kids to be aware of your surroundings, and protect themselves from unnecessary ridicule by expressing themselves, ALL OF THEMSELVES, to the appropriate person at the appropriate time. This means they work hard not to cry at school, but when they get home, I let them and encourage them to pour out their hearts about the pain they suffer at school from bullies and other affects of really bad kids. So, if you want to cry I got nothing against you. The more the better I say.

Crying in Games
So I'm not raiding anymore. Like...ever. Unless I get a new back or something, it's done, I'm done. And for me that's a touchy subject. It's a recent decision, really. I tried to get strong for Cataclysm raiding, but when it came to it I just can't take sitting in a chair for 3-4 hours, it's too difficult on my body. I had to tell my guild leader, and that was difficult.

My wife tells me I take everything too seriously, and she's probably right. It's my personality to take ownership of my life's activities, to give them meaning. Even sitting in the park on a blanket with my kids, that's important because it's a time of bonding. Equally the last couple years I've come to bond with the people I raided with. We're not lovers or lifelong friends, but I internalize my contributions and view them as significant because I've had to suffer through some painful nights, nights which physically hurt me for days after in the real world, for the sake of contributing to the team and driving us to success. That success meant something to me, it meant that I had sacrificed physical comfort for an opportunity to achieve something with 9 other human beings, even if it was a game, it was done with other real people.

So when I had to tell my guild that my body was just too broken and I couldn't contribute any more, I do recall my eyes watering. So for me, I guess there is crying in MMO's. Who woulda thunk it? I'm not ashamed, I am proud that I feel, and more than that that I value human connections enough to allow myself to feel loss when I cannot enjoy those connections as much or in the same way that I used to. I have my breaking point, and for the first time ever playing a video game I reached it. In the end it's about the people. Because I helped form the guild, I'm allowed to stay and do whatever I can whenever I can, and I still help cut gems, make flasks, etc. I still run some fun things on the weekend when I don't have to give up too much time. It's nice.

Crying and You
There is a time and place for everything, for the most part. I still feel that while on vent or whatever, people should control their emotions, or at least control to whom they express them. It's ok to let it out to the right person at the right time, but I still think one should protect him/herself from general ridicule. What we do, what we play, because it's with other people who feel, I think in principle there is no feeling that needs to be repressed, nor any manifestion of those feelings. Just do it at the right time. Most circumstances in gaming really don't merit crying, but I think there are a few that do, and all of those deal with the relationships we forge with other sentient beings.

So, Tom Hanks, there may not be crying in baseball, but maybe there should private.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where Did I Come From? Contemplating Character Creation

I never thought about it much, even when taking my first steps into Azeroth, about where I came from, ya know, how did I actually come into being? Given that I never thought about it much means that, for me at least, it's not really that important. But something happened recently that made me think about it and whether it's important or not.

I gave RIFT a go.

While watching the opening cinematics for both Guardians and Defiants I noticed that I am told about my creators, about where I come from, whereas in WoW, I just appear out of nowhere and am supposed to have feelings all of a sudden. It's interesting, to me at least, how the Guardians have been risen by their gods as Ascended (I think I'm getting this right, I didn't take notes and am going off poor memory), super heros brought back to life to defeat the evil Regulos and do some other heroic stuff and stuff.

The Defiant built machines, and with those machines created a race of "Ascended", in other words, magical Frankensteins with a defined purpose. In either case the story makes a HUGE point of telling you where you come from. It also tells you why you're here, but that's a separate subject.

WoW just kind of apparates you into Northshire and gives you a stick without telling you where you came from. I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter. I mean, sooner or later you learn that you are not intended to be a hero anyway but a punching bag for elitist jerks who treat you like you're 3 years old...AND, LET'S NOT FORGET, TO GET MORE LOOT!!!!!!

All jesting aside, I don't know whether it's better to be created from "nowhere" or made by a machine. It seems like the Guardians in RIFT get the lucky draw, risen by the all powerful beings or whatnot, while Defiants or WoW players are either some rare cyborg meat suit or a nothingless creature brought from some alternate dimension by some dude in his mom's basement looking for some cheap weekend thrills.

No, I suppose none of it really matters. I was just thinking and all, you know how that goes. It's "just a game", who cares about story when you can pew pew all day long and get shiny purple shinies thingies. Aargh, I'm in a bad mood today, can you tell? I'm treating this issue as if it doesn't matter, which it doesn't, but in some weird way I'm supposed to think that it does? When it comes down to it, I appreciate that the creators of RIFT were thoughtful enough to tell me where I come from. I do enjoy WoW still, or I wouldn't play it, but now whenever I create a new toon I know I'm going to be thinking, somewhere in the back of my mind, that I drew the short straw when it came to character creation lore/background. /sigh.

I'll be alright, I'll get over this tragedy, and maybe, just maybe the reason I'm here (in Azeroth), will be compelling enough to make up for the fact that I have no idea where I come from.