Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Horizons

This is an update to let you all know that I am no longer updating this site.  I am now teamed up with Yelling on the Internet for my services.  You can find me at http://theanxiousgamer.com.  I have a whole new professional looking layout and everything.  You should check it out.  I hope you continue to follow this blog, at its new location.  In a few weeks I will be making the transition more official.  Thanks for your following.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A word on... words.

The other day I was talking with the delightfully insightful Zaralynda, about what I don’t remember, when I said something that I had said a dozen, hundred, maybe a thousand times before.  I said something was “lame”.  Zara was blunt with me when I said that, replying “That’s ableism and gross.”  I wasn’t quite sure what I did, but I inferred by the speediness and tact of the reply that I had said something hurtful.  I felt an immense amount of pressure and my stomach started knotting.  I apologized first.  Then I did some research, and, frankly, I am glad I did.

Go Google ableism.  Go ahead.  Or if you like, I can give you the link to the Wikipedia page.  Read that page.  I had no clue what ableism was.  But if you read that whole page and some of the other Google links, maybe you will realize the immense amount of shame I felt after I said that.  I thought I was the biggest jerk ever.  And what’s worse, I was completely ignorant of that.  For years.  So I deleted my tweet, apologized to everyone, and hid in a corner for a while.  I could not deal with that in that moment, knowing that I could say something so innocent, and yet, simultaneously, so hurtful.

I was quickly forgiven, which I appreciate.  But it’s been nagging me, that I could be so insensitive to people less fortunate than myself, like it was no big deal.  The sad part is that I am not alone.  And while it’s not the most popular topic, it’s something that needs to be addressed, so here we go.

If you did not click on the Wikipedia link, then let me tell you what ableism is.  It’s discrimination against people with disabilities.  Any disability.  It’s against the law.  But more than that, it’s mean.  After last week’s outpouring against mean people and bullies, I thought this would kind of go a bit synonymously with that theme.  We have an opportunity to make positive change in our ever shifting war against bigotry and hate.  Why stop now?

The hardest part for me, in all of this, is its prevalent everywhere.  Guild chat.  Trade chat.  Chat chat.  Skype.  Twitter.  Facebook.  Television.  Internet.  Newsprint media.  Get it?  Literally, it’s practically everywhere.  And if you think that’s bad, try explaining to someone why saying something is retarded is bad.  I did.  At work.  Today.  Some guy said our fees were retarded.  I replied “that’s ableism, and not really cool.”  He asked what ableism was, and I was saddened when I explained it.  “Are you gay or something?” Then he drove off.

When did it become ok to talk like this?  What time and age did saying ableist terms become acceptable?  I wish I had the answer.  The bad part is, people would be more offended by using the word “gay” as a slur.  “Retarded” is just as hurtful.  No hurtful word is any less hurtful than another.  It’s like using the word “rape” like a joke.  Except it’s not funny.  These words are triggers for some people, triggers that could turn someone’s perfectly fine day into a spiraling nightmare.  That’s the last thing I would wish on anyone. 

And yet it’s prevalent in today’s culture.  It’s funny to some people.  Go play League of Legends.  Sorry LoL players, but I’ve seen this in more than one game.  If you know LoL, or know anyone that knows LoL, you will understand my analogy.  You may get it anyways, so if not just bear with me. 

You’re top lane; let’s say you go Udyr because you have Skarner jungling.  It’s just an example; this would not happen in reality.  So your enemy player has Kennen against you.  He makes a mistake and burns all of his cooldowns.  You think you have an advantage; minions are pushing him to his tower, so you don’t have to worry about tower agro.  You get aggressive, go bear form for the stun, shift to turtle in case Kennen tries to burst, then Tiger for the damage.  Except you forgot one thing.  You have no jungle vision because you forgot to ward.  The enemy Lee Sin comes in, Kennen gets all his cooldowns up, and you proceed to die.  Had you not forgotten to ward, maybe you would have lived.  If not, you could then at least argue that the enemy played that exchange well, and you and your team could discuss strategy going forward.

That almost never happens.  What usually happens in the above scenario is the enemy team would taunt you in chat, maybe saying that you got “gangbanged”, while your teammates say you must have “down’s syndrome”.   Why would anyone want to play a game with this kind of language, this kind of bullying?  Why would anyone saturate themselves in this kind of culture?

Why?  Because it’s popular.  It’s considered cool to put people down after they make a bad play.  It’s completely acceptable to act like for a lack of a better word, an idiot, and spew garbage out of your mouth at anyone who crosses you.  It’s considered ok to taunt your enemies with sexual innuendo.  In some circles, it’s considered part of the culture, viewed as normal, to harass your opponents/allies (as witnessed in the recent twitch.tv reality show fiasco, Google it if you're curious).  And when there’s money involved, I believe that anyone will do anything they can to get any advantage possible, as large or small as it may be.

But I also feel its further stretching than that.  I grew up in a small country type town, up in the woods.  I hate to stereotype, but I feel like I have to here.  It could have happened anywhere, but I believe my upbringing had a lot to do with what I thought was and wasn’t acceptable behavior.  Up there, in those hills, if something was bad, it was “lame” or “gay”.  If you did something questionable, you were “a retard”.  If you were a boy and acted at all with any empathy, you were “queer” or a “fag”.  It’s upsetting even typing these words out.  I can’t imagine having to read them, let alone hear them, more so if they were directed at you. And they were directed at me.  And I directed some of them to other people.  I was young.  I was unaware, ignorant of my own insensitivity to people who were less fortunate than I was.  And so were many other people.  Some of us were just jackass kids.  Some of us, like me, honestly didn’t know any better.  I never directed “rape” or “fag” at anyone, but I used to call unfortunate situations “lame” or “gay”.  Even in my older age.  When I was 18 I stopped using “gay” after I had hurt a friend’s feelings.  He was, in fact, homosexual.  I felt like such an ass, I profusely apologized and swore I would not use that word in a derogatory way again.  Unfortunately, we didn’t speak much after that.  To this day I feel terrible about it, absolutely terrible.

“Lame”, though, I never once had that word cross my mind until last week, when I really took a good look at it.  In 30 years time I never one had anyone tell me why it might be even remotely bad to use that word in such a negative context.  I never even had the foresight to think of it on my own.  To think that I was so oblivious only makes me feel worse, but I have been trying to take it a day at a time since.

The thing I worry about is the lack of acknowledgement ableism receives, especially in our gaming world.  When confronted about negative behavior, I find that if a person does not agree with the sentiment, and has no desire to see anyone else’s viewpoint, then they will most often be unwilling to consider how their words have an effect on others.  And because of the prevalent use of these terms in these specific ways for such an extended period of time, it’s easy for others to assume that someone complaining about such a “silly or insignificant” thing is unjustified.  But the truth of the matter is that it’s hurtful, and illegal, and shouldn’t be tolerated.  The more this brand of hate speech goes unacknowledged and unnoticed, the worse it will be for generations to come.  If you’re not worried about that, think about all the times you may have heard these terms directed at you or someone you cared about, and how it made them feel.  No one deserves that.

We can stop this oppression, together.  It will take some effort, some patience, and probably some banging of the head on the desk, but I believe the effort to take a stand, as we all seem to have been doing more lately, will pay off for those yet to tread these murky waters of life.  First, we have to recognize the issue.  If that means someone flat out telling you that using “lame” in a negative context is wrong, please do what I did: consider that you may ACTUALLY be wrong.  Don’t get defensive; don’t jump to conclusions.  Be calm, and if you’re confused just say so.  It may be embarrassing, yes, but if you are being told by someone you trust, then TRUST them.   They probably care about you as a human being and want nothing but the best for you.  I understand how hard trust is; in this case it was well worth it and I don’t regret it, and was glad to be more the wiser.

Second, expect resistance.  Most people, in my experience, don’t like being told they’re doing something wrong.  This will go true IRL and in game.  Neither will be easier than the other, in my opinion.  I could argue that if you see someone regularly there’s a chance that daily reminders would be helpful.  You could counter by saying said person may end up getting annoyed by the daily reminders and want nothing to do with you anymore, while ignoring the ableism altogether.  You could argue that it’s easier to deal with confrontation online.  I could counter by saying how personal these online connections can be, and how tone and inflection is not always accurately or easily translated via text.  Both ways are hard and both are equally unpleasant.  But it’s for the best so don’t be afraid.

Third, don’t be afraid.  People may judge you differently or hold you in a different light after you bring ableism up.  They may want to make more unsavory assumptions about you.  But don’t back down for a minute; this is as important as any other hate speech and should be warranted as such.  If your peers are unwilling, then don’t be afraid to go above them.  If the managers or guild officers aren’t willing to comply, go above again.  In real life, I would suggest HR.  Remember, ableism is illegal, insofar as it is hate speech and can be construed as a form of discriminatory language.  In guild, this may be trickier.  The GL may be unaware of ableism or how discriminatory it can be.  Even after education, the GL may be unwilling to budge on the issue for whatever reason.  Realistically, at this point you can either ignore the offender as best you can, or leave the guild.  Note: it's important that you ignore the OFFENDER, not the OFFENSE.  Do not let your opinion be silenced, regardless of whether others feel it is valid or not.  I realized this more so this evening in guild chat; and just how important it is to know how your GL tolerates this kind of language BEFORE you join a guild.  Now I am possibly considering jumping ship, which will leave me feeling like I wasted $55 in what I thought was a good guild to start over with.  This isn’t realistic for everyone, though, which makes the thought of even playing your favorite game, or leaving it, so discouraging.

Fourth, and important for the third, is to know that you are not alone.  There are a few of us on twitter that are advocates against ableism, although I would consider myself more a junior advocate in training at this point.  There are other resources, though; websites, blogs, support groups/forums, etc; aiming at advancing the idea that calling someone “lame” is hurtful, discriminatory, illegal, and not necessary at all.  Remember, if we are going to end hate speech of all kind, we will have more success working together.

It will take some time, but I hope someday we can live in a world where derogatory language towards others subsides.  I’d like to log into WoW or LoL or whatever next gen game comes and not be flooded with tells about how some quest or play or item is “lame”.  Believe me, there are better ways to get the point across.

"Trust Me" w/super-late update

Inspired by @Applecidermage's blog post regarding issues she has had in the past, I wanted to reveal some of my own.  This is to let you know that this is more of a personal thing for myself.  There are some intense scenarios and may trigger anxiety or anger towards people, hopefully not myself.

I am not my father.

I have to remind myself of this daily.  When I wake up, before I go to bed.  Before I go to work, before I log in to WoW or League.  Before I go out in public, before I go driving.  Before I see my therapist.

I have been getting to know some of you recently, some in game, some out of game, and I mostly just ramble on twitter about random stuff late at night.  You've all shown me great support and I am so grateful to be getting to know some of you.  That said, I don't know much about you all, just bits and pieces.  And you probably don't know much about me, other than I try to be very complimentary and encouraging, while also relevant and witty.  Some times I feel like I am trying to hard, and I often wonder what kind of an impression am I leaving on people.  Do they think I'm nice, sweet, caring, honest?  Do they think I'm just trying to seek attention?  Do they respect my opinion?  Do they even know I have an opinion?

I question myself a lot.  I have no reason to question anything.  I am an adult, 30 years of age and feeling more like 25.  I have a mostly stable job, I can say I'm happily married, and I get to play games I enjoy in my spare time.  But that isn't everything.  Despite all of this, much to my therapist's disapproval, I doubt myself and others.  I want to be open with my wife, my colleagues, my peers in game and on the blogo-tweeto-sphere.  But I just don't bring myself to be outwardly so.  I don't trust you.

Don't feel bad.  I don't trust myself either.

Trust is earned, not given.  That's what my father used to tell me.  There are very few things I remember about my father, but he would try to inject words of wisdom and life lessons into me whenever he could.  "Don't trust the world, it will let you down."  "Friends are temporary, family is forever." And so on.  In many respects he is right.  When you're in a dungeon, battleground, or LFR scenario, you often don't know all of the players.  You are put into situations where you have to trust them to help you accomplish your goals, goals which all involved share: the end result.  Justice points.  Loot.  Honor.  Achievements.  Shiny things.  You can't do these things on your own (unless you outgear/outlevel the content), so you must work together.  What I often do, in these instances, is keep my mouth quiet and do my job.  That's easy for me to do as DPS, stay out of the fire and kill Skull/X/etc.  Achieve glory and etc.  Go back to guildies/Real ID friends and tell tales of how people are so eyebrow-raising in PuGs.  I think we've all been there.

It's easy for us to not trust pugs any more than we trust Thrall to hurry up already.  Its easy for us to rely on our raid groups or arena groups or guildies or Real ID friends to be there when we need them.  But what do you do when you don't have those resources?  What do you do when your guildies leave for greener space-pastures?  What do you do when you have no friends, when you have different schedules than your spouse, when you don't get to see your loved ones?  Who do you talk to?

I think most anyone would do what I try to do, and probably with a fair bit more success: you go out and try to make friends.  And because of the nature of friendship, if you really want to be friends with someone, you have to put yourself out there, you have to be vulnerable.  Acquaintances, no big deal; just give them the old song and dance, pat on the back, log off cya round.  Friendship is more.  Friendship leads to deep care, love, or respect for one an other.  Friendship requires trust.

How can you make friends, in game or out, when you don't trust anyone, not even yourself?

If you have the secret formula for this I will pay you all of my monies.  Because the truth is I'm 30 and married for almost 5 years and I have a hard time trusting anyone.  I have a hard time opening up to guildies, and in fact, do not really know anyone in my current guild.  And that's just on my priest; my shaman is not guilded at all.  I haven't gone through the trouble of guilding him because at some point, I'd just like to group up based on my Real ID friends list, which is still quite small.  Getting an email address out of anyone these days requires a personal connection, unless it's a junk email account.  I know I don't like to give mine up unless I have to.  Again, it comes down to trust.  So, why not just trust people?  Why can't I trust anyone?

This is your last chance to get out before I go all apeshit emotional on all of you.  This isn't something I would normally discuss, but I've recently realized (last night on twitter) that because of the nature of twitter, and in some ways, the internet, there is a level of anonymity.  That anonymity can be breached, easily in fact.  But nonetheless, these blogs, tweets, avatars, and chats with each other about the game, politics, and so on, can make one feel liberated, free of worry of judgement or persecution.  That's not to say there aren't consequences; I am not sure how anyone will react to my post, but I am making it anyways because I want people to know me better.  I want friends again.  I don't have good friends now.  The friends I had are more like acquaintances now.  I need some freaking companionship for when my wife is asleep, and I need to quit being a chickenshit about it.  So here we go: the reason I don't trust myself or you.

I am not my father.  My father was a monster.  He is still a monster, but I have learned to tolerate him better.  My dad did some things that put my family in a lot of danger, and he didn't care.  When I was 2, someone cut him off on the freeway; he forced them off the road with my mom and I in the car, and beat this guy up within an inch of his life.  My dad was reckless and inconsiderate.  He beat me.  He beat my mom.  He abused us verbally, physically, and mentally.  Part of this I'm sure was related to his hobby: making and dealing meth.  I wish I were kidding.  He threw a fucking pillowcase full of kittens in a river because he couldn't sell them.  This man was to be my role model, and at my young age I was oblivious as to how much this would shape my life.

At age nine things were at their worst.  Something happened and the real abuse started.  He locked us into rooms.  He tortured my mother.  She tried to fight back, get help.  But she felt powerless.  She felt alone.  And she couldn't abandon her children.  So she put up with it.  We all did, in fear of our very lives.  One day he turned his back for a minute and we ran.  We fucking RAN like there was no tomorrow.  And he chased us.  He chased us down the street with a rifle.  I don't remember if he shot at us or not, I just thought it was over.  And yet, it was not.

An aside, my father did not get what he fully deserved out of this.  Drugs were not found because my mom did not want to get involved with the drug ring.  The police weren't going to do much of anything.  Had it not been for one of my uncles, he may not have done any time at all.  He ended up doing 18 months in county for a list of all the things he did to us over the years, but only after my mom convinced a female case worker to hear her out instead of the male she was assigned.  I say this as an aside because I do not trust many men.  In fact to date I only trust two, and whatever male twitter followers or fellow bloggers read this.  Men are evil.  Men do horrible things and can get away with them more so than women and it's bullshit.  For example, take the dad who shot his daughter's laptop; if that were a mom, people would question her ability to raise a child.  Dad?  He just is a dumb redneck who doesn't know any better.  I used to be guilty of this same exact thing, along with many other things I am not proud of.  But that's in the past and I am trying to move on.  The point of this is that women are equals and in most cases superior to men so just fucking deal with it.

We moved after the divorce, because obviously we couldn't stay where we were.  We needed a fresh start.  So I got to start over making friends in a new place.  Only I was so full of rage and pre-teen angst that I was instantly labeled an outsider.  I was the brunt of most everyone's jokes, from popular kids to not-so-popular.  I was the key to anyone's popularity, a trend that followed me throughout grade and high school.  As I became more isolated, I gained weight and eventually glasses.  At my heaviest I was 230 at a height of 5 feet.  While not terrible, it got many people concerned for my health, which made me more anxious about myself and led to some other not-so-appropriate habits.  Mainly, smoking and drinking.  At 16.  Well the drinking at 16, the smoking at 13-14.  The stuff was provided by the myriad of men my mom would try to use to replace my father.  I don't blame her, she was lonely as well, and was working two jobs to support all four of us.  These men, though, would eventually leave, making it even harder to trust men.  An other aside, good men don't treat women like shit at all.  There are few good men on this planet.  Ladies, for that I am truly sorry.  For the gents, I am also sorry, because I may never know how close I can let you in.

At 8th grade I was contacted again by my father.  He wanted back into my life.  I regret doing so, but I was afraid he would find me, so I just let him in.  Things were ok at first, visits at first, then phone calls.  He had done his time, remarried, and founded a business for himself.  He became a catholic.  He was sorry for what happened, or so he claimed.  He hoped I could some day forgive him.  I never did answer.

By high school, things were not so bad.  My senior year, I became more sociable after I lost my weight and gained contact lenses.  I even had my first kiss.  My first girlfriend.  My first someone special.  Until she dumped me for God.  That hurt.  That made me mad at God, at the world.  And there, out of that vile hatred that simmered in my head about my lot in life, stemmed the idea of finality.  I started acting out on myself.  I started watching things on the internet I should never have seen, things to this day that still haunt me.  I cut myself.  Deep.  People were concerned and I told them that if they really cared they would stop me.  Only one did, a friend who to this day is one of the few decent men I know.  He led me to God, ironically enough.

This is where things kind of get weird.  I believe to this day in the power of Christ, and while disputable I have seen it first hand in my life.  That said, today's "Christians" and the church in general is not what I think it should be. The real Jesus is loving, caring, and respecting of all.  He does not judge, blame, criticize, or hurt people.  He does not care about your race, sex, preference, past, none of that.  Jesus loves everyone.  Many people today who try to claim that they follow Jesus come up short of His expectations, and I feel terrible having to live with being labeled as one of those guys every time I bring up my faith. That's something I didn't learn until recently, and for that I am truly sorry.

After I became a "christian" I thought things would get better (easier), but ultimately my father and his attitude would creep back into my life.  My mom had left me, moving to where I now live in pursuit of an other chance for love, which sadly did not work out.  My dad wanted me to move with him and go to school.  I decided to tell him off and live on my friends' couches for two years, playing music and having the life I wanted in high school.  That did not last long either.

Eventually my mom needed financial help to get out of an other abusive relationship, and I obliged to help her, as I swore I would protect her at all costs when my father left us to rot.  However, in transport I was left with no option but to call my father for help, after telling him off.  To this day he lords this over me.  8 years ago, and still, it's an issue for him.

After finding work in my current town, I found myself alone again.  I tried going to church and getting involved, and I ended up meeting my wife.  She has been so patient with me, anger issues, depression, and all.  Before I got married I got a government job.  I lost all anonymity because technically I am a public servant.  And serve I do.  What I do is not glamorous, and I get mostly backlash and complaints from the public and my peers. This was great for a while, but shortly after our marriage, her father, a man I was slowly learning to love, left her mom for an other woman.  This pissed me off to no end.  I was swirling around a sea of negativity, and feeling pressure to keep it up while putting my wife through college (she is currently getting credentialed to teach).  And worst of all, for me, was that I felt abandoned by the God that claimed to love me.  One day last year I popped.

I remember the day.  I was at work.  A customer had just laid into me for something that I had no control over.  I looked back at my lot in life, frustrated with the way things were going.  Despite everything I had, I was miserable.  I wanted out.  I wanted to quit.  So I punched myself in the face.  That same day after work I got into an argument with my wife over something so irrelevant I don't even remember.  I raged and shouted at her.  I lashed out towards her, cursing at her, raising my hand towards her.

Instantly I stopped.  I was paralyzed by the fear that I was my father, something I swore I would never become.  Shamed, I locked myself in the bathroom and contemplated ending my life, only this time for good.  But I knew there was an other way.  So instead, I got help.  I sought out a therapist.

I will never forget the first session.  We talked and talked and talked for what seemed like ages.  And by we I meant me.  At the end of the session she looked me in the eyes and told me something I needed to hear but could never understand.

I am not my father.

After more sessions I started to calm down.  I was also diagnosed with high anxiety and depression, which I am getting treatment for currently.  I was asked to read more, to help me relax.  I read a book titled "Searching for God Knows What".  That book allowed me to really understand the gentle love of Jesus without the bullshit hypocrisy and politics that mar today's churches and religious leaders.  It allowed me to be more conscious of what I say, do, and think; how I treat people, even those who I don't quite understand.  It allowed me to desire relationships with people, relationships that weren't just fickle, but meaningful, caring, and healthy.

Relationships, however, require trust.  Relationships require me to make myself available, to make me be compassionate and patient with people, to make me willing to be vulnerable.

So, readers, I hope that this inspires you to learn that in the darkest of times, you are never alone.  I have seen the darkest places, and come out better and a bit healthier.  I am not a perfect person, and I never will be.  I will do my best, though, to be better than I was yesterday.  I can look back and dwell on the shit that may have made me fucked up, or I can move on and be happy.  I am choosing the latter.

If you would have me, I would someday like to call you a friend.  I would like to talk about things I may have left about, about the games we play and world we live in, about the sunny beaches of California which I see almost daily, about the things I believe in, music, food, whatever. If you can trust me, I can try to trust you. I promise I am not my father.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, or you suspect they are harming themselves, or you are harming yourself, please get help.  You may not see it yourself, but you are a valuable person and are deeply loved and cherished.  You can visit Helpguide.org or seek out other resources locally.  Do not let your life go to waste on a whim.  You are not alone, and you never will be.

Update: The awesomely awesome Nymphy at D/E the Tank! and Famous Shaman blogger Lodur of Way of the Totem, as well as many others, responded to Apple's post.  Apple herself made some updates as well.  This should be a reminder to all of us that we are not alone, even when we feel despondent, isolated, or broken.  This is also a reminder to all the oppressors that we will overcome any obstacle thrown in our path, that we won't give up the fight for OUR rights.  Further awareness and openness can only strengthen the bonds between us, not only as gamers, but as humans, colleagues, family, and friends.  And while I fear these stories may continue to come out of the woodwork, it is good to know that there are more shoulders to lean on.  Again, I encourage you to seek a friend, a guildie, anyone, before contemplating taking your life, before giving up on yourself.  You ARE worth fighting for!

Monday, March 5, 2012

An Interesting Scenario...

After my last post about my positive experience with the LFR tool, some of my twitter friends had a discussion about the LFR tool and issues that tend to arise with being grouped with random people.  Random people, mind you, who may not have your intentions in mind, who may not care about you or your feelings or needs, who is only looking to satisfy their own desires for E-Glory, loot, etc.  People, as fortune usually would tell us, who can be downright mean, rude, demanding, or any other myriad of undesirable personalities, and who aren't afraid to let us know where we mess up.

Without giving too many details away in respect to their privacy, this friend had an incident in a Well of Eternity group, and since then is unable to go back into said group for many reasons.  This inability to do the instance could prevent my friend from being able to do LFR.  This would prevent my friend from seeing the end of the game that I talked about a bit in my last post.  Eventually, as we discussed, my friend will get to see the final battle with Deathwing, in all it's fiery glory.  But it may not be until Pandaria is being explored, or if that item squish thing happens, maybe further depending on what happens with the older raids.  I told my friend that I would be there for them if they needed help with grouping, but after our conversation, I got to thinking.

My wife is the same way as my friend in some respects.  She doesn't like getting yelled at, doesn't like being told what she is doing is wrong, that sort of thing.  My wife isn't dumb, she knows what she needs to do.  She just has no desire to do research for a video game (I think I talked about that a few posts ago).  In all likelihood, my wife will not get to experience the final battle with Deathwing either.  So that's two people in my circle who may not see the dragon beastly thing fall.  How many more could be out there, unable to participate in LFR, and for whatever reason, is unable to participate in the final act in a meaningful way?

The truth is, we don't know.  We may never know.  I assume that there are a good amount of people that ARE doing LFR.  I don't have numbers to back that up, however.  But beyond them, you have the 85s that aren't interested in raiding at all, and only want to beat each other up in Arena's or Battlegrounds.  I assume that leaves a fair amount of max level characters that could participate in LFR, but for whatever reason, they just can't or don't.  So how do we include them in the story?

There's a couple of things WoW has done in the past to accomplish this.  In Vanilla, you had the AQ events to unlock that place, and I'm not sure if there was an event to lead up to Naxxramas.  In Burning Crusade, you had the Isle of Quel'danas dailies, as well as Magister's Terrace, that gave a slight level of involvement. But Magister's Terrace was a heroic, and a hard one at that, that had little to do with Sunwell in my opinion.  Wrath had a fairly decent lead-up to ICC, again, in my opinion, with the three dungeons with the nice gear upgrades.  The final boss of the final dungeon had you running from the main antagonist, however.  Not very heroic of our heroes to be running alongside Jaina or Sylvanas for our very lives.  Still, we got to see Arthas at least.  But again, these were heroics with potentially complicating mechanics and moderate risk encounters.  And while, yes, both the Terrace and ICC heroics also had normal modes, nobody ran them, because everyone wanted the higher gear upgrades.  Those that did run the normal versions dropped group if their one item upgrade didn't drop.

Cataclysm took a step back here, surprise, in my opinion.  The gear gap from the heroics gives you a better chance to participate in raids, however the final story doesn't really feature the main antagonist in any way.  Rather, it has you jumping through hoops to acquire the only thing that could destroy Deathwing.  This is similar to the Magister's Terrace encounter, which featured a reborn Kael'Thas as the end boss (which led to a phenomenon I shan't reconstruct).  While interesting, I think Blizzard missed an opportunity to have Deathwing pop in and try to stop our heroes, or something.  Not only that, but Cataclysm end game heroics don't have a normal option, a shift that Blizzard intends to take with them in Pandaria; why run normals when you can run heroics instead?  Well, because not everyone can handle heroics.  Some people couldn't even handle normals in Wrath or BC.

All of these end game encounters share something, though.  Despite their differences, they all featured boss mechanics that asked much of the players compared to heroics from earlier in the expansion.  This is also becoming a trend in the game in general, where players adapt to mechanics and don't feel challenged.  In return, Blizzard has to step up the difficulty, often by throwing stuff on the ground, adding AoE packs, making us move, avoiding moving walls, etc, and while they have said before they would never do an other Oculus type encounter, I'm sure they could improve upon the mechanic and implement it in a different way.  This does nothing to ease the fears of a gun-shy healer, like myself, or a pull-shy tank such as my spouse.  This creates more stress, and stress isn't very fun.  I play this game to avoid stress, not experience it.

Can Blizzard realistically implement something for non-raiders, or for that matter, non-dungeoneers, that gives us a feeling of immersion?  Can they give us a taste; a real, honestly, good sized portion of the final act?  Could Blizzard implement a way for every player to experience the story while it's still current, in a low stress/decent reward scenario?  I believe they can, and if you saw the Blizzcon coverage a while back, I bet you know where I'm going with this.

Scenarios!  Remember them?  Remember when they said that they would implement a way for us to group up and take on story lines without necessarily needing a dedicated 5 man group?  Remember the speculation that came with this announcement? It's still there, on the Pandaria  features page.  It's not filled in yet, but it's there, and with it lay infinite possibilities.  I know that at Blizzcon they had a picture of a Kobold and something about the Jangolode Mine or something like that.  But what's to stop them from keeping them away from end game content?  Imagine, if you will, a scenario like this for current time.  Deathwing, in human form, is torturing Thrall while imbedded in the earth, as in The Charge of the Aspects short story from a while back.  Imagine that we heroes are trying to distract Human form Deathwing while Thrall is trying to free himself.  Yes, you'd have to change that story up a bit, but the possibility is there.  While I'm sure Blizzard could come up with something cooler, they can do it in a more friendly, welcoming, relaxed way.  A way that everyone could experience.  However, it's never that easy with Blizzard is it?

Look on that page I linked about Pandaria's features.  The LAST thing on that page, that is yet to be filled in, is scenarios themselves.  What if scenarios become Path of the Titans or the Dance Studio or the Helicopters of Wintergrasp?  There are other issues, too.  For example, if you implement a cool story in scenarios, how do you make those encounters more epic for the dungeons, and the dungeons to the raids?  What kind of rewards would scenarios yield to encourage players to take the leap to the next level if they so desire?  How do you make an encounter exciting without making it overly complicated or hard to manage?

These are questions Blizzard will have to answer.  These are also reasons why I, as much as I hate to say it, feel that ultimately, scenarios WILL become the dance studio of Pandaria.  It's unfortunate, but I am not sure if making a short window to the end story is really a priority of Blizzard.  Prove me wrong guys.  Please.  I want a fast pass to the end game.  I want access to a low stress, epic encounter that won't be a huge time sink, such as an LFR raid (because it still takes a couple hours to do LFR).  I want something that could break the mold of Tank-Healer-3 DPS, something me and a couple Real ID friends could take on.  Just 3 of us or so.  I want to see what Blizzard could do with that.  I think many of us do.

I would love to learn to be a better tank in a scenario.  I would love to refresh my healing skills in a scenario.  I would love to teach my wife to tank in a scenario.  I would love to just have fun or goof around in a scenario.  Not everyone can handle heroics, as easy as they may be to others.  Not everyone can handle LFR raids, as easy as that may be for others.  Sometimes I can't handle criticism in game, as constructive as it may seem.  Especially on the internet, when it's hard to pick up on inflection, you only have text to rely on.  If I read the text with the wrong intent in mind, I might take it as an attack and start to shut down.  I did that yesterday at work.  For no good reason I started to amp myself up, preparing for an attack that never came.  It ruined my day.  It's stupid that words or the actions of others could have such an impact on us.  But we're out here.  We exist.  I exist.

That's why I think scenarios would be a great addition.  Low pressure, moderate reward, and a sense of immersion and contribution to the end game, when it's still relevant.  Could Blizzard do it?  Sure.  Will they?  We'll find out in a week or so at the press release.  Until then, it's business as usual, with crossed fingers that you don't end up with a jerk face in your group talking down to you because you can't keep up with him.  Because, unfortunately in today's end game formula, there are still more of them then there are of me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

LFR Amazing-ness

Just a quick little update I've been meaning to talk about...

So last night I had the pleasure of finally using Real-ID to do Dragon Soul.  @aerix88 invited me to join him and a friend late last evening, Horde side of course.  While we were waiting, we had a nice conversation about alts (as well as a twitter conversation) that inspired me to gear up my shaman when I get some time.

I popped on SleepyHams to see if anyone was on (where were you Aerix? JK) in preparation. Alas, it would be just the three of us.  Once our raid popped, we buffed up and did the normal stuff you do pre-raid.  It felt so familiar, and I started to feel uneasy about how I would do.

Let me tell you, it didn't matter.  It went fine.  It's not that it was easy; you couldn't quite power through certain mechanics like you could in Wrath.  No, it just was less hectic.  It was relaxed.  It was fun.  It was amazing and gratifying.  I got Tier gloves, two achievements, and a sense of satisfaction for doing something I have never done before in my five-plus years of playing the game.

I downed an end game boss.  It doesn't matter if it was LFR.  I still did it.  It felt great.  And that got me to thinking.

LFR should have shipped with Cata.  I think if it had, I would not have been so burned out on the grind.  And now that I've tasted Deathwing's blood, I am looking forward to doing LFR every week until I'm geared up with main and offspec.  It could take weeks.  It could take months.  And if I decide to do it both on Alliance and Horde side, it may not happen.  But that's ok because it was fun.  Fun!

So now that I've overcome one of my big hurdles as far as WoW is concerned, hopefully I can continue to meet cool people like Aerix and do RealID groups.  I know a couple of my followers are prodding me to go Alliance.

This is just a quick update though, as I have much I need to do today before work.  I just wanted to share my excitement for something that I care about so much in this game.  Look for a more fleshed out post about random stuff in a few days. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Setting myself up for... fun?

The other day I was tanking for my wife again.  I've been having great fun doing it, I must confess.  It allows me to see the game in a different light.  By that I mean, not only am I seeing the game from the tanking point of view, but also from the view of my wife who, by admission, is not very interested in the finer points WoW may have to offer.  She could care less if her rotation is solid or if she's specced right or has optimal gear.  She just wants to punch stuff in the rear and get loot, so she then can do more damage, so on and so forth.

Unlike her, I have spent countless hours in the past dissecting boss strats, optimal rotations, optimal talent setups and gear optimizations.  That's a LOT of optimization.  I guess you could call me... Optimus Exlucis.  No, please don't; that doesn't have the same ring to it.  It became apparent to me that I optimize myself in every way, shape, and form, and until last night I never thought about the reasoning behind it.

Why are players obsessed with being optimal?  That is a pretty easy question to answer in theory, but realistically, does having the perfect setup guarantee fun?  I mean, we are playing a game to have fun right?

The proof is on sites like Elitist Jerks or Wowhead, or even WoW Insider.  The official game forums.  In game.  In your own guild.  I'm sure you could find someone right now, with numbers to back up the claims that having a certain spec, rotation, gear setup, keybinding, addon, etc. will grant you the ability to kill whatever is in your way, be that in PvP, Dungeons, LFR, or Heroic Raid content.  And it's true: if you set yourself up to be completely optimal, you are putting yourself in a position for success, arguably more so than those who do not.  Don't get me wrong, if you are not skilled at the game, you will not have as high a potential as someone who is more skilled than you.  However, by the nature of the game and how characters scale in power relative to their gear and knowledge of game mechanics, optimization is key.

So... great.  Optimal.  Conformed, even.  Sure, big numbers, record kills, epic loot, glory, titles, achievement points, etc.  That's great for most.  My wife could still care less.  She has a point, too.  I mean, how much fun can a game be if you have to put in hours of work in order to kill a boss?  My argument to her has always been and always will be that I see it as more of a game; to me it is a hobby, a lifestyle, hell, even my lively hood.  Does that make it right?  I don't know.  I do it because I want to have fun.  That's where I got to thinking last night.

My gear is getting better, but my trinkets aren't very good for a Shadow Priest.  They're fine, they're just not the best; they're not optimal.  Does that mean my numbers are bad?  No, although they aren't the best.  I think I pull my own weight, especially in heroics where I do most of my gaming.  Where I'm worried is LFR when I give that a shot.  I finally am high enough iLevel to do LFR, but I am reluctant to do so, even now with better gear and more practice in game since my hiatus.  That doesn't mean the stigma is any less present, even in LFR.  In a vote-kick now, ask questions later mindset, the pressure is there for me to be optimal in order to avoid criticism, to avoid embarrassment, and to avoid the kick.  That isn't very fun.  And it's everywhere.  There's no escaping the mindset, especially in harder content where one mistake could mean failure.  Everyone is relied upon to be optimal.  That doesn't sound very fun either.

Yet it's everywhere.  There's always that one guy, the buzzkill guy, who has to chime in with the strat that will save the day, the rotation to beat all rotations, the gear list to epic glory.  What's worse is that I used to be that guy... to my wife.  Before I got help, I used to criticize my wife about her talent choices, gear choices, rotation, the way she fought bosses, etc.  She never wanted to run with me because I would point out how much better I was than her.  She wasn't having fun and she told me so.  At the time, I didn't think about it.  It's funny how time changes things.

So back to tanking.  Now that I am getting better, I can adjust my mood to expect people to be people in instances.  That is to say, not necessarily being optimal while I myself am not optimal either.  Especially as a tank.  Yet as a tank, even if I'm not lead, I control the flow.  Things kind of go around my pace, which is a great power in game I did not know existed.  Aside from the first time I tanked when I couldn't keep up with the DPS, I think I have done admirably, and now that I know what to do rotation wise, packs stick to me like glue... well, mostly.  No one's died yet still.  And more importantly, I'm having fun with my wife, and we haven't had that in-game in quite some time.

My anxiety is still there.  I always get nervous around people, I'm always shy, and I always prefer to be told to do something even if I know what to do.  The difference is I'm finding myself working through it more than ever, trying to be more active in my guild, being more vocal on twitter, even popping on Twitter Mumble.  It's been fine.  No issues.  Am I an optimal person?  Hell no, I mean I'm a pretty conservative person compared to most people I follow and interact with.  But that doesn't matter.  I'm just as much a person as they are, and no one's jumped out of the bushes yet saying I'm ruining anything.  Yes, my biggest fear is someone coming at me with a random tell, whisper, email, comment, or DM saying that I'm a bad person for what I believe or what I do or say.  It's one of the reasons I don't talk politics much and don't say much at all.  I don't want to put myself in a compromising situation.

But that's in an optimal world.  In this world, in reality, there is conflict.  There are real life bosses I will have to tank.  It won't be in optimal situations.  There will be times I won't get my full DPS rotation off.  There are times when we ALL are uninformed or unprepared.   In my opinion, it's ok to want to be optimal.  It's also ok if you aren't.  We can all still have fun.  And in game, and reality, if you aren't having fun, you're going to get bogged down.  That bogging down can take a toll, and you can wind up being Mr or Mrs Buzzkill.

As I was contemplating all of this, I was on Ask Mr Robot to see what my optimal reforges would be as a Shadow Priest.  I think today, I'm just gonna let it go.  I am sure I will do fine, and I'm sure I will still have fun.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In His Dreams...

Beating drums, hammers ring;
Rallied cries for the renowned king.
Banners raised, feasts prepared;
In revelry of how he fared.
Beast an ale and merriment;
While praises far and wide were sent.
Gifts of salves, hides, and ores;
Paid the debt of which they bore.

For had the king not claimed his soul;
Unspoken would be the bloody toll.
As Hordes would raze the lands by fire;
Adding fresh kills to every pyre.
But the proud king stood his ground;
Empowered by the strength he found,
Subdued the Horde, Orcs and the whole band;
By the beast within, now ruled by his hand.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Quick Thought from a New Tank

I originally wanted to call this post "Tank-xiety" or "Everybody Starts Somewhere" but it's late and I want to get this thing out.  Also, I probably should keep it kind of short, else I rant on endlessly.  I have been known to do that from time to time.  Hopefully I can get my thoughts across.

I have played every class to some degree.  I have done every role to some degree.  I am best at DPS, mildly OK (though out of practice) as a healer, and probably a mediocre tank.  I have tanked a whopping 5 instances in the 5 years I have played WoW.  And three of them occurred yesterday.

Recently, my wife has expressed interest in learning to tank on her warrior.  At this news I was shocked, mostly because she abhors the thought of tanking.  I think a lot of this has to do with the tanking stigma, but I'll get to that.  So I thought I would help her out, run her through some instances on my priest to help her get the hang of it.  After a practice run, I felt she was competent enough to continue onward.

This is where things get kind of meaty.  See, her warrior on our server is only 60.  My main is 85, max level.  I can't very well run with her, so I did the next best thing: rolled a DK of course.  Now, my experience with DKs is somewhat limited, but given the tools DKs have at their disposal, I find them similar to the kit of a Shadow Priest.  So I thought I would give it a shot with her, and enter this brave new world of duo queuing. Unfortunately, my wife did not want to tank just yet, so she asked if I wouldn't mind, as I am leveling Blood spec.  So, despite my hesitation, I queued us up, and a minute later we were staring at Ramparts.  I picked up the quests, and away we went.  I thought it wouldn't be too bad.  I was wrong....

Truth be told, I wasn't wrong after all.  Nobody died.  Loot dropped.  Bosses died.  Most everyone had a good time.  I felt invincible.  I felt like I had all this power.  The reality, however, was that I did not have anything, at least in my mind.  You see, in the first run, I did not queue as leader.  The leader of that group was a 65 hunter with two 63 friends.  They also felt invincible, and did most of the pulling for me.  I tried to keep up, and while the changes to threat and such made it mostly easy, I felt helpless to grab stray mobs.  I'm sure this will ease up as I get more experience (and an actual taunt), but I couldn't help but feel like I failed to do my job PROPERLY.

Two more times we queued, once again Ramparts, then Blood Furnace, and were matched up with people closer to our level.  I did much better these times, but I still felt like I left something out there.  Again, nobody died, bosses dropped, loot was had, etc.  But that doesn't mean it was fun.  I mean, yes it WAS fun being nigh invincible, but I had help.  And I felt like more of a hindrance than I did a help.  I felt like, although nobody complained, like I let the group down by not having the best tanking skills, ui setup, or addons to do the job proficiently.  It's at this point that my anxiety normally would kick in, and it sure did.

My wife was quick to correct me, saying that I did fine, reassuring me that I did just fine.  Like I said, NOBODY DIED.  And still, despite her consoling, I felt like I could have done better.  I felt like if I could have been more bold, taken charge, and communicated better, that we could have had perfect pulls every time.  Is that naive, absolutely.  Possible?  Who knows.

My point is that I think tanking will inevitably be good for me.  It will help with some of the things I'm supposed to be working on, like communicating, being bold, taking charge, and working through my anxiety when it creeps up.  Hopefully I will have my fears more assuaged when I get more Twitterland friends.  Of course, that would also take more effort on my part.  Why am I such a coward?  People will like me if I just give them a chance.  At least that's what I'm supposed to believe.  Plus, I think it's at least a bit more interesting and exhilarating that healing.  But that's for another post.

It's hard for me to be bold.  I don't like being talked down to.  I don't like being wrong.  I want to be right, good, respected, wanted, even loved.  I mean, love is everything.  I have a loving spouse and loving cats of course, but no close friends that I talk to regularly.  Yet I tweet with so many great people, I bet if I talked with them on mumble we could become friends.  Some day, I promise.

So keep me honest, readers.  I am thankful to have readers at all, and someday I hope we can all be friends.  So if you see a Belf DK named Exatrus, wave hello and don't be shy.  I will do all I can to keep you alive.

Speaking of LFR and Twitterland...

Exlucis is getting closer to being LFR ready.  i366 and growing, though truth be told I am cheating with a PvP piece.  It replaced my original blue shoulders though, so I don't feel like too much of a noob.  I took some screenshots of him so the world could get a look at my current mog of choice.

He's sporting the BC Dungeon recolored Nemesis (?) pieces on the helm and shoulders, and the Scarlet Sin'dorei Robe from Magister's Terrace.  Beautiful if you ask me.  I thought I would be original if I made my Shadow Priest look like a warlock.... /facepalm

Anyways, that's my rant.  Again, thanks for the continued reading of my blog.  If you are on twitter, feel free to send me a tell or something, I'm always looking for new contacts.  Maybe someday I can tank for ya.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Introduction to the Priesthood

Hey look I made another one of these bloggy things!  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I totally did!!

So in my last blog post I briefly talked about my background and what I hoped to accomplish with this new blog.  I realize I never talked about my in game persona and my first max level character.  So I would like to introduce him to you.

This is Exlucis.  Roughly translated, it means “of the light” in Latin.  I should really just take a screenshot but I am really bad at those.  Plus this way, you can all laugh at my gears and whatnot.  The gear he has mogged was his first raiding gear, his first blues. This was my first raiding toon, my first max profession alchemist, my first PvP success… Really, he is my first WoW love.  He is my fallback, probably because he can heal AND dps like a boss!

Exlucis was born at the start of Burning Crusade, when I started the game on a whim.  Quick backstory on that: so I was engaged at the time to my wife, and her best friend had played since Vanilla.  Her friend wanted her to play as a way of them to stay in touch.  Well I thought I would give it a try and I was hooked.  Even MORE backstory: when I was five my dad bought me a Nintendo, and I beat almost every game I played from six onwards.  Original Mario, OWNED!  Mario 2, EASY!  Mario 3, one of the best games every made.  Yes I beat that game too.  But no game I had every played ever matched the world of Azeroth.  Quite simply, it is one of the best game worlds in existence.  I had played the original RTS games in high school, so it was nice to see what had happened to the world since then.

Anyways, Exlucis was originally born out of my inability to decide what kind of character I wanted to level.  I had originally rolled a Draenei Paladin named Gentral on Zangarmarsh, where he resides today.  Back then leveling was slow; this was before they had done the original nerf to leveling experience.  Hell, this was before they nerfed ANYTHING! Gentral was on his way to level cap, but because he was a paladin it went slowly.  This was also when I had no idea what WoWhead was, or what the forums were, or what ANYTHING was, so I was putting talent points in ridiculous places (this was something you could do back then).  Why Paladin, I don’t remember, but I do remember one time when I wanted to “tank” Scarlet Monastery Cathedral.  I was politely told to stand in the back and heal, which I did poorly at.  I felt unequipped to perform the role of healer, which I was new to as well.  I thought “if I’m going to be asked to heal, I’m going to roll the perennial healing class…”

Thus the birth of… Healdude.  Remember, this was before paid name change as well.  But I was a healer, I was a dude (not really), and I wanted to be labeled as such, so off the Draenei Priest went.  Of course, I was told to level as shadow, so when I wanted to “heal” I had to re-spec (before dual specs) and waste all my money.  Eventually, I did make enough to buy epic ground riding.  Eventually, I made it to 70 (it took me six months of off and on play).  Eventually, I bought normal flying (and spent the dough on a name change) and I eventually geared up to raid.

But I was asked to DPS, as we had a priest healer already.  So I learned to DPS.  I learned what add-ons were.  I learned to not stand in the fire.  I learned all the normal tricks you learn when you raid.  I also learned that Shadow was a valuable asset to have for healers, as I provided a lot of regen (this was back when Shadow was the mana battery.)  My AH HA moment occurred at the end of my first Kara raid.  I was so excited to finally go to one of these raid things.  I pulled my weight, I thought, and while I was second to last on the meters, I had provided the healers enough mana to help down bosses.  The healers were happy to have a shadow priest in the mix, and I was thanked in a tell by a paladin healer.  I was hooked.

That guild went through many transitions during BC, as we couldn’t down Magtheridon.  We failed at cubes.  This failure caused a lot of turnover, and we were forever a Kara guild.  However, this transitioned well into Wrath.  10 mans! I thought it was excellent, except we ended up having a lot of transitions again.  We also ended up having a large amount of raiding priests.  This led me to level a shaman, which was fun but not AS much fun as the priest.  My desire to play the game dwindled as time went on, and coupled with my varying work schedule, I decided to take a break.  I came back about halfway through TOC , and did some 10s on my shaman.  I participated in some Lich King raids, but never made it past loot ship.  Sad, I know, but I just couldn’t commit to raiding full time like I wanted to.

Since WoW is a game primarily built on raiding, or at least has been, staying with it has been tough.  I was gang ho for Cata, but faded fast after 6 weeks at max level.  Most of the guild was fed up with WoW, and wanted to try RIFT.  Heroics were too hard to heal.  Heroics were hard period.  I’m not complaining, as heroics were hard in BC.  But in BC you took a hard CC.  There was no group finder.  There was no 4-tank model.  There was down-ranking and chain-potting.  The Cata model was fine, but not for me.  So I did what many people seemed to do; I quit WoW.

At first it was fine, but I had made so many friends during that time, that I had no one to talk to except my wife.  Since the start of Wrath, she has been wrapped up with intensive schooling while she works on becoming a grade-school teacher.  She doesn’t share the same passion I do for video games, but she does enjoy WoW.  We used to play together, but she had quit around the same time I did.  The point is, I walked away from my only effective outlet for socializing.

That’s right around the time I started having the problems I talked about in my last blog post.  That also wraps up the backstory of Exlucis, the shadow priest turned disc priest turned holy priest turned shadow priest.  That also brings me to Exlucis’ current incarnation as a troll.

So in October, Blizzard introduced the Annual Pass.  I asked my wife what she thought about it.  She seemed reluctant to let me go back, as money is tight for many folks these days (including us.)  I told her about all the perks that came with it, and she warmed up to the idea.  So in November I went back to Zangarmarsh and logged into Exlucis since before the start of Firelands.

Only all I found was an empty guild and a server full of strangers.  Reality slowly sunk in- I would have to start over.  I was distraught at first, but I made several posts on the forums about finding a new family, and I found my current home – Ride the Lightning on Malfurion… Horde?  So yes, I made the switch from a Draenei to a Troll, from Zang to Malf, from Alliance to Horde, from old to new.  And everything was great…

But things weren’t as easy as I hoped.  There has been some transition (what a surprise) since I joined.  The original guild leader (whom I had never met) had left, and the person who interviewed me is now Guild Leader.  The class lead still plays, as do many people; it is a fairly large guild.  However, there are some people who were active that are kind of taking a break.  As a result, guild chat is fairly quiet, and most people only show up for raids now.  It’s not surprising given the end-of-expansion doldrums that hit every guild, every server, and every time the expansion comes to a conclusion.  It’s just hard on me, as my one social outlet is now gone.  It’s hard enough for me to make friends; this just makes it even harder.

So imagine my joy when LFR was announced, along with Real ID raiding and Battletags.  Except I’m still shy and I haven’t signed up for any of the new social groups that I talked about in my last blog post.  I’m still hoping to hop onto Twitter Mumble.  I’m still looking to sign up for a raid on the LFRaid or Twitterland sites.  I guess I’m just battling a couple different things in my head right now.

One of them is my anxiety.  My doctor told me that I would have to make conscious changes, and while I’m working on it, it isn’t as easy as hopping on Mumble and saying “hey guys I’m JayVick82 aka Exlucis lets be friends k?”  I know that relationships take work, but I am so fearful of rejection that I would almost rather be a hermit.  To me, this isn’t acceptable.  I need to be more vocal.  I need more friends.

Another issue I’m having is my inability to share.  My wife likes to make lowbie characters, and even though she could re-activate her account, she isn’t eager to get seriously into the game again.  I don’t mind that she tinkers around on lower level toons when I’m not playing, but it’s hard to do that when I want to play and she wants to also play.  I'm hoping the tinkering will re-kindle her desire to play WoW so we can play together again.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  I have League of Legends to play when she wants to WoW, but I miss my priest.  I miss achievement hunting.  I miss my Annual Pass charger.

So I’m asking my readers, my twitter tweeters and RE-tweeters; I need your help finding friends.  I need motivation to gear up to do LFR with the twitter mumble peeps.  I need to find the motivation to get those Fel drakes.  I need someone to talk to.  I need to try to be social again so I don’t revert to super-introvert anxiety man.  If you would be so kind, please drop me a line and maybe some suggestions.  I know I’m not alone, as was pointed out to me so kindly this morning by a blogger with similar issues.  Together we can start to form the bonds and take them well into Pandaria.

Speaking of…

I saw the updated talent calculators that came out yesterday.  I was surprised there were no real changes to the priest trees, but I did see the blue post saying that they were doing a lot of work on it at the time.  That has me excited to be honest.  I am eager to try Divine Star; it reminds me of a League of Legends skillshot type ability.  Here’s hoping that the future has many priestly things for us to ponder.
Next time I’ll talk a bit about my League play, and hopefully I can tell you about my first LFR experience.  Only time will tell.  Until next time, may your days be full of fortitude… get it?  Priest, Fortitude… eh you get it I’m sure.

Monday, February 13, 2012

An introduction to unskilled blogging

One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done was attempt to write a blog.  It can be challenging to write about topics consistently. It can be more challenging if you don’t have a defined purpose.  Without a purpose (to write about, that is), one could argue that you have no identity, blogiforically speaking of course.  And yet, here I am giving it a shot.

I don’t know exactly what it is that I hope to accomplish with this blog.  I have a couple of ideas that I’m tossing around still, but I have so many interests on my mind that it’s hard for me to focus on one.  I definitely want to use it to network with other people and hopefully make new friends.  I want to use it to share my opinion, albeit limited, on topics such as music, gaming, movies, and coffee.  I want to share pictures of my cats; seriously, they’re adorable.  I want to share my views of the world we live in today, and where we could be heading.  I want to offer hope to people who feel oppressed, abused, unloved, or unwanted. I want to be funny, while being semi-serious.

Perhaps the most important topic I want to include, no matter what I talk about in this blog, is that humans (or perhaps humanity in general) play a role in almost every aspect of our daily lives.  For better or worse, we are more or less stuck with each other.  If only it were as simple as typing out these simple words instead of actually interacting with people.  If only it were as easy to limit people to 140 characters or less. Perhaps it would be much easier if we had the power to block or ban those we didn’t want to deal with.  If only things were that easy.  I know that would be the case for me.

It is becoming more apparent as every new day dawns that we are evolving in so much as we now are able to foster deep, meaningful, and even loving relationships via Facebook or Twitter.  10 years ago we were scratching the surface of the power of social media with Myspace and Livejournal.  Today wehave grown up from the big name websites, and people are starting to focus on generating smaller, more intimate communities.  For example, I play two very socially driven games as my hobby of choice; World of Warcraft and League of Legends. World of Warcraft’s Real ID grouping is allowing people to spend time together no matter what server or time zone. In response, sites like LFRaid and Twitterland Raiding are allowing people to find like-minded (and like-factioned) people to group up with and slay those pesky internet dragons.  Wanna use voice chat with your raid? Sleepy Ham's official "Twitter Mumble" has the hookup with a mumble server.  If only there were such websites for finding League of Legends players…

But aside from coming together for a common goal of loot and achievements, these communities are allowing people to have close and personal conversations with people they may have never met.  In the same vein, people may be more willing to be more open and talkative about their personal lives.  I mean, why not?  Like I mentioned, these may be people you have never met or never intend to meet for one reason or another.  If I’ve learned one thing from the internet, the freedom of anonymity allows people to do or say things they wouldn’t do in the outside world.  This can create an interesting and exciting dynamic.  This can also create a lot of trolls, funsuckers, or straight up jerks who are intent on doing everything they can to get under your skin.

The question then becomes, is opening up to perfect strangers (or imperfect like Cousin Balke) worth the risk of getting hurt?  Is it worth the risk of judgment and ridicule to come out and say exactly what’s on your mind to others?  What great things could be accomplished if all of us were willing to take a leap of faith, hop in a mumble channel, and have an intimate conversation about Norwegian swim shorts (see edit below)?

Honestly I may never know myself.  In my desperate attempt to try and foster more and deeper relationships, it has come to my attention that I am my own worst enemy.  I have tried so many times to log onto Sleepy Hams, only to cancel and close mumble.  I read people I follow on twitter having conversations about WoW or social issues or whatever, and I wonder “Geez, how cool would it be if I got on and started talking and people liked me and what I had to say?”  I wonder what it would be like to gear up to do LFR and meet people with similar music tastes or similar coffee roast preferences.  I keep waiting for the day I log into solo queue and hear someone talking about their cute Hairless Persian (Note: I do NOT think hairless cats are cute).   I basically was asking myself in the last paragraph: what do I have to lose by taking a risk and introducing yourself to people?

There are a few reasons why I haven’t tried yet.  First, I get uncomfortable talking about politics.  People get very heated over them and I have difficulty dealing with confrontation.  Second, I get intimidated talking to men (we’ll hopefully get to that someday), and I’m happily married so I wouldn’t want to say something stupid like I tend to do around women I respect (I’m a flirt and an idiot all at the same time). Third, I tend to have distorted views of myself, and I take things too personally sometimes (working on it). Fourth, although I have more recently come to understand what a true Christian should be, saying that I believe in Christ could instantly put a wall up, and I don’t want to offend anyone ever.

Fifth, and most important, is that I have abnormally high anxiety.  I am working to get better, but because of the things I mentioned above, it’s probably easy to see why I am reluctant to open up.  I keep waiting for someone to take the first step and help me make the transition easier, but I’m an adult and I need to act like one.  So here I am; here is my attempt to open up. I think this could be good for me, and I’m hoping it serves its purpose as a tool to help connect with other gamers and cool people out there that may think I’m a cool guy as well.  There are so many people that I follow and respect, and I hope that someday you all would come to respect me as well.  Friendships don’t occur overnight, but it would be cool if it didn’t take a year to really have a good network built up, or at least be a part of one.

So hopefully next time I get to talk about my initial experiences with Sleepy Hams, gearing for LFR, or what solo queue is like as a leveling summoner.  Maybe I’ll show you the cats, or write some poetry or songs or something creative. I hope I have more positive (or perhaps more interesting) things to talk about.  I hope I can open up more and show that I’m not some cat/coffee obsessed, God-loving, married old guy with a thing for twitter and stuff.  I hope I can share my creativity and not be ashamed of who I am and what I can be.

I hope to show you I’m a funny guy too.  Did I mention I love my cats?

Edit: I have a weird sense of humor and hopefully that translates well onto this blog. I tend to get random or silly sometimes.