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In The Beginning, We Were All Strangers

It’s been just over a year since I started this blog. And what a roller-coaster of a year it’s been.

A lot has happened both in my gaming life and my personal life, and I am at a vastly different place now than where I was at the start of this little journey.

As a gamer, I feel I’ve lived through and observed so many hype-cycles through this past year. I’ve dabbled in so many different games, online and off; completed some, left others partially finished in my come-back-later-to-finish pile.

I must have been living a mad scramble, desperately filling the gap that my almost-decade long hiatus from gaming has left in me.

But now, that gap’s been stuffed to the brim. It’s gotten so full that I needed to relax and take a step back. My pace has slowed. The urgency has gone. I can take a day to just watch TV, or just go to bed instead of sitting in front of the computer. It’s a liberating feeling.

I do miss my WildStar family, who got me into this gaming community in the first place. But unfortunately, the strain of the MMO lifestyle is unsuited for me right now. The most I can do, and probably will, is to dabble in story quests in whatever game I feel like, half-hour chunks at a time. It was Guild Wars 2 last month, and it’s WoW and Dragon Nest this month.

I’ve also taken plunges into Fallout: New Vegas, and played through the main campaign of Diablo 3 again. Life is Strange, The Stanley Parable, and even the tedious Risk-like Paradox strategy game, Sengoku, have all given me great and memorable experiences in my recent memories.

The long and short of it is, I’m more comfortable now with what I play and what I choose not to play. I no longer feel remorse for deleting my unfinished games from my Steam library. I no longer feel the need to play so I can “fit in”.

As the dust settles from the game-gorging activities of the past year, I can see more clearly: games can be fun, but what’s more fun are the people.

In the beginning of this journey, I just had the game to cling to; this fresh and struggling MMO called WildStar, which coincidentally blew my dormant social media life wide open. With it came new folks and new connections with shared passions: The WildStar community, the MMO Twitter community, the gaming blog community.

In the beginning, we were all strangers. What a difference a year makes.

After a time, I found myself surrounded by a small, but great group whose shared interests transcended the lifespan of any specific game. The friends I was unable to make in-game, I made in social media. And I didn’t need to be in the same game to enjoy their company. I realized that I had here what I was seeking in an MMO from the start. I no longer needed the game as an excuse.

I know there aren’t many of you, but the handful of you who have chosen to share this journey together with me have truly made a positive impact in my life. I am grateful and happy that you all are a part of my life.

Thank you for making my life a richer and more meaningful one.

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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Gaming

 

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My 2 Cents – Games with Friends

Playing games with friends. When it’s done in the same room, it creates near-instant friendship. When done online, it can be exhausting. My mind is a flurry of activity when I interact with people, and it’s not easy being amidst a large group of people if I’m not familiar with them. When I spend time with someone new one-on-one, I can focus on that person, and that takes enough of my mental energy as it is. With a group of people, my brain overloads and I need to get away from it all after a while.

I’m finding it much the same when I’m playing MMOs. Of course, there are those who I talk with on Twitter, which has become my main mode of social interaction with people who share my interests, and I find it much easier to approach them in-game since I’ve developed an ongoing relationship with these folks. But mostly, I am often left with just names in a chatbox. Even when I use a voice-chat service like Ventrilo or Teamspeak, I only get the bare minimum of who that person is. I can’t see people’s faces, see their little physical reactions and gestures; there’s a lot less connection and more build-up of stress. Going into a teamspeak channel is like going into a room full of strangers – and I can’t even see their faces.

I miss the days of getting together with a bunch of friends to play games together. Console games, board games, party games. Even playing outdoors games like capture the flag dissolved the stranger-barrier really quickly for me. If you want to get two people to open up to one another, having them play a game together is a much better way than, let’s say, coffee or a dinner. It’s nowhere near the same for me in an online environment.

Maybe I need to schedule some more intimate game-time with a select few in the near future, because lately, gaming online is getting to be very tiring form of play for me.

But maybe that’s just the cost of being social.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Gaming

 

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Bloggy Xmas – Day 18: Building Our Bond

Community is a word that is tossed around casually. It’s one of those words that serve a utilitarian purpose, but the word means so much more.

Back in my youth, I knew who my friends were. I had a few small groups of kids I hung out with. We played hide-and-seek, we fought with Ninja Turtle and SD Gundam figurines, we played console games, we bought Magic: The Gathering cards, we went swimming, we played soccer, we played music, and so on. As we all left our hometowns to pursue something greater, we all slowly drifted apart, like so many others must have done before us. There are a few friends I still have contact with, but still, it isn’t the same; we all have other people or priorities in our lives which take precedence over our past friendships.

The past dozen years or so has been a pretty turbulent period of my life, with ups and downs, new friends, new places, new jobs, and so on. Change. Change everywhere. The environments I placed myself in were in a constant flux of people. New college kids, recent graduates, people finding jobs, people driven to make something of themselves, people still figuring it all out. These were the people I interacted with, and they always came and went. I understood that, and that was the rhythm of my social life.

Now I am married and have a toddler, a full-time job, and a life-time of financial obligations. I recently looked back on the past year or so settling down with the family and I came upon a realization. Through my thirty-some years on this earth, this has probably been the most socially isolated period of my life.

One of the few respites from this solitude would be my frequent forays to the various online game worlds. Still, there was never a game which made me stay for long–I was still playing alone. When I stumbled upon this game called Wildstar, something in my life started to shift. As written in my previous post, I became involved with social media for the first time (Facebook doesn’t count!). These people were complete strangers. Strangers from all over the world–California, Massachusetts, Canada, Russia, UK, France, Switzerland–who shared the same interests and passions I had!

As I interacted with people on Twitter and in-game, I came to understand that there was something special here. All of these people really cared about something–in this case, WildStar. And you know what? I was also one of these people.

This is significant, because this is our bond.

People from around the country and even across the oceans are freely talking to each other about things we are all passionate about. The friends I couldn’t have at home, I found on-line.

I read article after another from gaming journalists I followed on Twitter. I watched videos and listened to podcasts from content creators I met there as well. I could talk to them, and they would respond. I discovered that there are others like me who love what I love, and I can be who I am next to these people.

As I spend more time on social media, I find more interesting people with interesting things to say–things I am interested in. We all have thoughts, ideas, passions, and expertise, and I respect immensely those who dare to share them with the world. Then, something else happened . . . it snuck up on me very slowly as a gnawing thought at the back of my mind.

You should also be one of those ‘interesting’ people. Give back to the people who have now become your community.”

But, what is my community? Individuals, sharing with each other, based on respect and support for one another: to me, this is a community. And with that thought, I am starting to see where my “real-life” communities exist: my work community, my church community, my musician community, and my gaming community.

Building a healthy community is a two-way street; just passively existing will yield little benefit to myself or my peers. It’s one thing to join a community, but really, what can I offer to enrich the lives of those I share mine with? There are probably many like me who stumbled upon these gatherings of people with heavy blinders on–we, who joined said “communities” for self-centered reasons, with hopes to only gain something for ourselves. Therein lies a compelling paradox: we enter communities for selfish reasons, yet communities flourish only when those individuals rise up beyond their egos to serve one another.

To me, this thought is really powerful. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “community building”. As I watch the team at Carbine Studios work to develop its own community, it makes me think of past and current governments, and how they still struggle with building solidarity within their own national communities.

Community is a loaded word, and I salute any of you who care enough to make one happen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out the rest of A Very Bloggy Holiday Countdown: An MMO & Gaming Blogosphere Event! hosted by Syl @ MMO Gypsy Blog

Thanks for letting me contribute!

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Thanks for stopping by, and have a Merry Christmas everyone!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2014 in Gaming

 

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