Strong Transitions, Strong Emotions, Strong Memories, and MMO Content

About two weeks ago, I walked away from a pair of Guild Wars 2 guilds, and very possibly the game itself, over what may feel like some to be a trivial matter.  But after waiting it out over this time, I’ve come to realize its something I actually should have done sooner.

This bears some explanation and background, so I start with the primary method I learn and remember things:  I learn best by doing the task – no amount of guides will help in the long-run – and I remember an experience best (to the point of it being nearly photographic) when it happens around strong emotions.  ANY strong emotions.  And the memories are so strong because the emotion binds it to similar experiences with that feeling – events going all the way back three decades, perhaps even four.  Including things I promised I would never reveal – and still haven’t – from discussions in various group therapies over the years.

And there lies the problem – when I’m allowed to self-learn, or working with a patient and kind instructor/leader, I do well and I advance well.  In fact, I sometimes do best with a group who does not overly care, and I ‘lead’ at work in a very ‘shamanistic’ fashion.  But, if things get heated, and tempers flare, then I start to stumble and make ever increasing mistakes – to the point where it becomes a horrific spiral that puts me into almost a depression.  Sometimes – like on 9/11 – it causes a much worse reaction; I had a lot of repressed hate over the years after that day, and did things that I’m very ashamed of now.  It took nearly a decade with the Uru community to get the last major bits of that out of me.

So how do I normally resolve stuff like this?  Leave – its the healthiest thing to do in that sort of situation, and its why I survived Eve Online with such a decent track record – I saw the events coming and quietly bailed.  In fact, if it was not for what was left of their RP community at the time, I would have probably only been there two years, instead of three.  And with Eve, in theory, I had planned to leave online gaming for good.

But as I was leaving, the timing came up whereby I saw some potential in Guild Wars 2.  The Uru community had been constantly praising GW1, and some had been looking forward to this iteration; that is a very strong endorsement to me, so I tried it.  Unfortunately, what I found was a terribly buggy mess that had a lot of quirky mechanics (other than the underwater stuff, which worked a lot like Eve), and had more than once considered dropping it.

Then I ran into LAW, and they saved my interest in the game with the one thing I was truly seeking – a group that was somewhat hardcore, but also didn’t entirely care how you went about doing it:

It was a good run – about 2.5 years, with everyone chatting on voice nearly every day, even if not entirely on the game.  Both the long interregnum before the first expansion, and the slew of competitor MMOs pulled various regulars out and back again for a long time; Eventually the main leadership decamped to Black Desert, after which I never heard from them again.  Looking back now, I realize I may not be able to capture that again – the game has moved on from what it was at launch.

But, I tried anyway, which is how I ended up on the other two guilds.  It worked out at first, but only because I only logged in once or twice a week for nearly two years.  But eventually things started to chafe with me, I was craving for more social interaction with the guild – the forum was mostly bare, even Discord’s actual GW2 section was petering out, and all that was being talked about it seemed was the content I disliked the most – Raids – because it was the final straw that killed LAW.  So I decided to gird up and try them – and the other ‘higher level’ content – anyway, just so I had more voice contact with the guild.

I now realize I should have left instead (and seek a proper Social oriented guild), and consider this to be one of the larger mistakes within Gaming I’ve ever made in my life.  But I trusted some of the officers involved to keep things civil – and as a former Eve player, Trust is something I don’t give lightly.  Which made what happen two weeks ago even more poignant.

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With that out of the way, the Event AAR:

Content:  Tier 3 Fractals

Participants:  Myself, two Officers from the Guild I was repping at the time (and who were singly responsible for coaxing me back to this content after a year off), a third Officer from a sister Guild (the Target of this report), and a person interested in the content but had virtually no protection against it.  I barely had any protection myself, and consider myself pretty decent for a casual player…

What happened:  The Officer in question pulled up the fractal, and despite my protests, convinced us it would be fine.  That is despite the fact that the previous run of this event (just the day before) I complained about being unable to track everything, and one of the two other Officers (who was in Voice at the time) knows my limitations from running often enough to have considered Vetoing the run.

As I’ve seen previously from this Officer (many times), after going in with a lax attitude to the content, he got overly serious and began snapping at people regarding being unable to follow the mechanics.  While I’ve endured this before from him, the final straw was his yelling at the new guy, who happened to be running the same class as he was.  This was despite pulling him in with practically NO protection AT ALL against the core Mechanic of fractals – Agony Resistance.  As I said, I barely had enough myself, but probably could have managed if things were explained more calmly and everyone kept their cool.  But this particular person would have none of that, yet again.

Enough was enough; in order to protect the new guy from any more abuse (and I honestly had enough with all three Officers by that point too), I left the voice chat, Discord, the Guilds, and very possibly the Game itself.  I am certainly taking a vacation from it for awhile, take stock in what I really care about, and probably go look for a true Social guild.  I may even go hook up with one of the Christian guilds that I know exist there.

But, there is no way at all that I could come back to either of the other two guilds with the level of Taint that this has caused me.  I am certainly done with any content like that again – not without someone who can calmly take the lead.  I am even concerned if I can even join a Guild that hosts Raids or Fractals, however small that group may be.  Its that scarring for me now.

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So what’s next for me?  Lots actually.  During the time away so far, I got a lot of fun and useful stuff done at work (probably because I’m actually relaxing instead of stressing, as high end content does to me).  And I have a new idea for a long-term project in Minecraft as well – reviving an old project from my Second Life days.  More on that later.  :-)