An amazing revelation hit me on my drive home from class tonight. My group and I had just blown away our Group Communication class as we tackled our project and presentation. A few weeks ago, as our deadline approached ominously, I decided to amplify my lead role on coordinating our team, and analyze our needs. Between a group of six of us, none of us are close to being experts at art, yet we took on one of Van Gogh’s most favored and seldom known pieces, “Potato-Eaters.” Here’s what it looks like:
It was a grueling challenge to dissect this piece and describe why we saw this as “art.” To me, it was trying to answer how this picture is “beautiful.” Yet, we managed it, and even went above and beyond, I believe. The professor even mentioned to me, “For an ‘engineer’ type, you communicated really well in your speech.”
I would have never expected to evolve from an introvert into someone who was able to direct, manage, and speak to a large classroom effectively. I give credits to the class and professor for helping me understand and grasp a lot of leadership concepts, but the true kudos for my “evolution” goes to my experience with Wizard101 and its community.
My in-game friends (Missy, Cheryl Fire, and Ronan) all played a monumental role in supporting me as I took my interaction with the game to a higher level. Instead of having a sardonic attitude when they learned about my proposed projects for a Youtube channel and comic series, these three whole-heartedly jumped up to help whenever I sought for aid. Because of this, I did not end up shying away from expressing my interest in the game. Again, I mention that I come from a highly competitive gaming scene; the thought of creating videos or fan fiction for a family-friendly genre would have never come to my mind.
Of course, a lot of inspiration did come from the existence of our very own Friendly Necromancer. The fact that a family man is dedicating his gaming interests into a decently-created MMO that’s not as widely played or known as some other games was just enough of a spark. If he can blog about this fantastic game for two years straight, producing a new article almost every day (during the time that I discovered Tom) to share and express himself while motivating others to “think outside of the box,” there’s no reason that I can’t record my adventures proudly, or develop my own storyline.
Eventually my projects spanned out to also include blogging, which is still a textual representation of my thoughts, rather than an online journal. To be honest, I was hesitant on creating “The Chillanthropologist.” I admit I wasn’t a very decent writer to begin with, especially when I have a stronger passion in communicating through numbers and equations (math major). Heck, even to this day, I notice that I have run-on sentences here and there which may create awkward messages from time to time. Secondly, I initially believed that the words and thoughts of Thomas Lionblood would naturally overshadow anyone else’s, so putting time and effort to sound coherent and organized seemed pointless. Third, I had only been playing for a few months at the time. I considered myself a “newbie” even if I managed to reach Grandmaster, but I was relatively new to the Wizard101 culture and community. I didn’t think anyone would notice.
So, I was shocked when Fallon Shadowblade from Diary of a Wizard featured my post about the community. That was enough motivation to continue writing and exercise my communication skills. Before I knew it, I was putting more time and thought into explaining details, playing Devil’s advocate with myself, and spending hours drafting my posts before they went public. Even to this day, especially when I’m writing for the “Arena” series, I would invest a few hours to produce up to four paragraphs.
I put more thought into whether my message was clear enough for any reader, and if what I wrote allowed for a continuous flow of interest from an audience. It became a strenuous mental effort to put myself in a reader’s shoes and try to interpret my sentences in a multitude of ways. By doing this, though, I managed to catch myself from being misunderstood or misinterpreted. As a result, writing coherent and “readable” essays came more naturally to me. I am now spending less time outlining, and am jumping into developing full, first drafts off the bat. This is all thanks to having my textual voice on the spot on every post, and I needed to have such diligence.
Around the time that I picked up on Twitter, I was also becoming more involved with Ravenwood Radio, and even became an off-air guest in Episode 14. I was so nervous about my performance in that interview that I even apologized to Leesha after the recording, for my accidental interruptions (which were edited out by her, of course). So, even with a headset and computer screen between me and the other speakers, I still could not quench the jitteriness at the time. Even with notes in front of me, I wasn’t confident in my voice and message. Nevertheless, the reoccurring theme of a supportive community eventually helped me out in this aspect.
I forget which episode it was in, but my Gobbler Drop guide for the show took hours before a successful recording was completed, and then a few hours of editing; it was completed over two consecutive days. True, there wasn’t a visible audience to make me nervous, but the greater challenge was trying to find a presentation format that would hold interest while being informational. I really lacked personality and energy in that one, IMO, and that is the main reason I felt disappointed, regardless of the positive comments shared with me. But, because there were many opportunities to be on-air (“coached” the Death team in the Warehouse run; guest interviewer for Death Study hall; Petnome segments; and, more recently, Star Study Hall), I slowly stopped feeling as nervous as I used to be.
The positive environment that I found in this game and in all of you was my main driver for self-improvement. My privileges and experience in working around Wizard101 directly benefitted me in becoming a stronger individual, and with that newfound energy, I delivered quite a punch in my portion of the presentation tonight. Transitions were smooth, I stayed calm and steady, and though I stuttered a few times, I never lost eye contact with the audience. Even the cute ladies smiled back!
Interestingly enough, today is also Kevin Battleblood’s Wizaversary. One year ago, I was more kept to myself, shy, and hated public speaking. One year later…well, that’s definitely a different story. Thank you everyone, for all that you’ve directly or indirectly done. This change in me couldn’t have happened without your interest and support in what I enjoy doing, whether it’s writing strategies and stories, managing a large pet project, or playing this game. I’m proud to be where I am today, and am looking forward to another year of contributions, contemplations, and conquests.