Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Power of Friendship

Around last night, I sent out an email to the hosts of Ravenwood Radio, expressing praise for them and my perception about their influences as players and as drivers of the show.  While writing, part of my subconscious clicked off in my head, opening an unseen window that I failed to recognize in all of my years with online multiplayers.  The result was the following phrase that I shared with them:  "It has always been our peers, and not necessarily the creators [of the game], who keep us coming back for more..."

 This is all too familiar to me, especially with the temporary but arbitrary loss of an in-game friend.  By that, I mean there will be a time when Scarlet Deathblood (real first name: Missy) returns, but with her circumstances, there is no telling or reasonable estimate of when she'd be back.    But after I heard the very first and last voicemail from her ever since the beginning of February 2010, the mild euphoria and excitement I once had for Wizard101 seemed to dissipate for the following weeks.

I started playing back in early December 2009, so I admit I am moderately new; however, with a really great mentor (Ronan Dawn), I've been caught up on the history and mechanics of the game in the sense that I understand that KingsIsle has had some loss of a fan base due to infringement on their promise to keep Dragonblades for Beta testers, and that old, imbalanced Crown armor was available in the past.  Anyway, having played for two full months before Missy was dragged away, there was still a vast area of Wizard101 that I had yet to touch on.  I initially expected that with all the content that was unexplored, that I could carry on and venture normally.

I was more than wrong.  A few days after her forced disappearance, the daily tasks of checking for game updates, logging on, and even refilling potions began to feel like unnecessary chores.  I remember sitting still in my chair one night, not even touching the keyboard or mouse, looking at my poorly dressed Thaumaturge, and slowly surveyed his surroundings, wondering what I was still doing here.  I had lost a close companion and partner.  When someone farms with you without limit, hesitation, regret, or wavering patience for as long as you have faith in the next farm's results, they become like an extended sibling, if not best friend.  Even the updates that brought us the Wing Mounts and Crown Armor Sets could not shake as much enthusiasm as I would have liked back into me. 

So what kept me here?  I think we'll have to rephrase that question and replace "what" to "who".  And it wasn't just one person, but it was a number of significant people whom Scarlet and I knew mutually or that I knew exclusively.  Cheryl Fire, Ronan Dawn, Allan Spiritrider, Eric Frostwalker, Ronan Storyglade, Iridian Stormweaver, just to name the few and great.  Had I not had these great friends, it honestly wouldn't have mattered if Celestia was released as early as March.  When there is no one close to you to share the excitement you get when finding the loot you pursued endlessly, or wallow in necessary silence after a loss (like a global reset), these multiplayer games become just a visual embodiment of a rowdy chatroom, and not necessarily a "great game" anymore.  Don't get me wrong; KingsIsle's work is truly a masterpiece, but without people you can play with and trust and have fun with, you're better off with getting Fallout 3 and an Xbox for a one-time pay-to-play deal.

This thought will be expanded into a broader area in the next post:  "The Power of the Community."  So until then, share your thoughts, comments, experiences, and/or questions on the importance of in-game friendship to you.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Kevin! I had read this before but was just going back through some of your posts cause I needed a break from some of the chaos today.

    But, I want to tell you how much more sense this makes to me than it even did before.
    I have a lot of "acquaintances" on my list, few true you have been.

    When the two friends named Blaze disappeared a while back and after the things that happened between me and my own mentor, which I won't go into here, but will say that I had to drop him from my list for personal reasons. Well, I felt very alone...even with other people on after he left. It was like anyone that was left only wanted to use me to do their work for them. They didn't want to share in the same experiences, it was all about them...and those are not true friends.

    I was really happy when Blaze and Blaze showed back up recently, though I know they will never be on that much, and with one of them I don't count on him showing up ever(as he really did get bored of the game himself.)

    But it has been really nice to hear from Blaze R. again, even though he can never be on much. It really takes me back to a more simple time...before I started blogging and it wasn't that people just wanted to add me because I was a blogger or whatever.

    But I feel for you in what has happened both what is mentioned in this post and as of recently. It is a huge loss to lose the ones that are really there with us no matter what...the ones that we laugh with and can talk to and feel completely comfortable with. It really does take away from your gaming fun when someone you were with so much is no longer around. I think you may even lose a part of yourself when that happens.

    I can tell you that my mentor, who I was very close to, at one time, he had stopped coming on and it was at least partly due to his work(we corresponded some through email.) At that time I really felt lost...not because I didn't know what I was doing at that fact I had improved quite a bit through his guidance. But we became a pretty much inseparable team; he was Life, I was Storm(I had not bought back my training points yet to buy Life to Satyr,) so I had become somewhat dependent on his help...with having that low health. But because he disappeared it actually also helped me, in an odd way. I became stronger...I took Life, I learned how to shield better...I became very independent as a Storm person. But I always did miss my mentor during that entire time. I would go days where I just sort of moped around and missed him and wished he would come back and it was almost all I thought of.

    Then a weird thing happened: he started to show up again out of the blue. We went into battles together but it was never the same again...something was different. The something was ME. I had actually passed him up on my knowledge of the game and I had become a better player than he had been. That wasn't what stopped me from being friends with him, though, it was a lot of other things.

    But, you see, things change and even though you miss someone a long time, there is always a possibility that what you had can never be regained. Of course you can always keep them as friends, but it might never quite be as "magical" as it once was. I know you have to find new happiness...and if I know you at all; I know you have and will find all that. I only hope the rest of things that have happened and are happening with you never get to be too much for you, because I know how important your real friends are to you. And as your friend I appreciate the knowledge that I can count on you never kicking me off your list to add in others that keep pounding you for adds, because your list is full. No matter what; I do know you are a true friend...and please remember I said this when I get in my stubborn and, unfortunately, argumentative moods at times. Maybe I just need some of that Wizard Root Beer that is always on tap at my wizard's homes, so I can chill


Let that thought out here: