10 Years, 10 Questions

Over on twitter today, @RhoWoW suggested people participate in @Alternativechat‘s 10 Years, 10 Questions writing… thing (challenge? exercise?? event?!?). It seems like a cool thing to do to reflect on the last however many years I’ve played WoW and write about it. Plus, it gets me blogging/writing. Something I’ve been struggling with for awhile now. So here goes!!

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I was a huge EverQuest player. Top-end guild. Break-neck raiding. WoW came out in the middle of all of this and was very popular, very quickly. I picked up WoW on a whim, to see if I would like it. In the middle of playing a TON of EQ, I found that WoW was too different for me at that time. I picked it up again a few years later because of @Kurnmogh.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
A Night Elf priest. I think I named her after my EQ character (despite how different and unrelated they were).

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
When I first picked up WoW, the only factor was character models. I wanted to be cute and pretty! Night Elfs were this choice at the time. Later, when I made Hestiah, I was limited to which classes could be druids, the class I wanted to play. I will never forget Kurn’s rants about druids being in the wrong spec and how expensive it was for them to respec (before the days of dual-spec). She said that the druids were the worst because they could never make up their damn minds and stick with a spec!

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
This is a hard one. There are so many. But I think running around Southshore with Kurn and Daey and her ranting about murlocs is up there. Lots of death and laughing and corpse running. I also think questing for my Warlock epic mount is up there. That was so much trouble, and so ridiculous. I am SO glad I did it. Even once.

Raiding has also been fun. Killing Lich King and getting the title. Doing “Herald of the Titans”. Killing tough heroic bosses. Getting meta mounts. [What a Long Strange Trip It's Been]. Too many to list, really.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
I dunno that there is any one thing that is my favorite, but probably the social aspects. I have made some of the best friendships because of WoW. Friendships that well surpassed any “it’s just a game” situations. Some friendships have remained, some have been lost. But the one thing that always kept me coming back were the people playing.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
Nagrand. Darkshore. And Badlands. Nagrand is just so pretty. It makes me smile to go there and sit on a floating rock. Darkshore has a lot of story that I miss. And a lot of story that I still enjoy. Grimclaw will make me cry every. single. time. (I blame @_Rades for this! *shakes angry fist*). And Badlands because of [Rhea's Egg] questline. I have a lot of love for that egg.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?
I played a month in Vanilla, though I have no clue when (month-wise) that it was. And came back at the end-ish of BC. I got dragged along on some raids and was generally awful. Then again about midway through WotLK. Since then I’ve been mostly consistent. played most of Cata. Most of MoP. And will be around for WoD.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Usually, no. I speed through most of it without paying any attention. Except for some questlines/stories. I love the Grimclaw stuff in Darkshore. And I love the Rhea’s egg stuff in Badlands.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
Some of the guilds I joined were instantly regret moves. Some people I befriended and trusted. But these have little to do with WoW and more to do with personal interactions (ie. me).

The only real regret are the friendships I let lapse for some reason or another. The time I spent playing too much and not doing schoolwork or work-work. I have few regrets.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
This is probably the most personal question, which yields the most profound answers. Warcraft has introduced me to some of the most amazing people. Friends who became my family. Boyfriends. Loves. Enemies. Acquaintances. All of them have had some impact on my life, one way or another.

Many friends have lasted years. There are inside jokes. Similar complaints. Talking about the mechanics of a heroic boss fight that annoys you the most. Achievements you’re farming. Company you have in doing really silly, grindy stuff. I got to know the people. Their lives. Their struggles. Their joys. Their hardships. Their accomplishments, in game and out of game.

I wouldn’t trade any of that in.

It always means I get the strangest looks from people. Folks who don,’t understand that internet friendships are real friendships. Who question my sanity when I say I’m meeting someone from off the internet. Or that I live on twitter and no I will not let you friend me there or on Facebook. That there is a whole other part of me that exists that has nothing to do with business casual attire and welfare benefits and jobs and such. When I do talk about that part of my life, it’s interesting to see who is secretly judging me and writing me off and who feels like they’ve meet a friend for the first time.

My time in WoW has helped me be a better person, even if I falter from the pedestal of my own creation. I’ve learned to accept that I’m not good at all things. How to accept constructive criticism. How to engage in difficult conversations in a more productive manner. I probably would have learned these things eventually, but it was my interactions (failed and successful) with people I knew because of WoW that made me reflect on myself more.

I am a better person because of World of Warcraft.

The Long Journey Home

It’s been nearly a year since I posted a blog post. That’s not to say the 20+ posts in Drafts doesn’t mean I didn’t want to say something. I wanted to talk about what happened with my guild, the one that fell apart, which, for the most part has just sort of blown over and no one really remembers much of it anyway. I wrote multiple posts about Con Creepers after Blizzcon last year, but never published those either.I want to blog about things, and games, and stuff. I want to talk about things that are important to me. I just feel like it’s almost not worth the effort. Or, I should say, I’ve convinced myself it’s not worth the effort.

I was thinking about it tonight, as I was getting friendly advice on twitter (from a multitude of people), trying to figure out why I got so self-conscious about my writing. What was the moment when it seemed to matter the most to me. When did I start to care what folks thought about me. It dawned on me, as I was standing there staring into my closet looking for something to sleep in.

I know exactly when it was. It was right about the time when the internet turned on me and I had to face a small army of misogynistic assholes (trigger warning on the link: harassment, misogyny, rape jokes) who were asked by their shitty leader (who now goes by an entirely different name these days) to harass me. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to get this from folks on a daily basis. And the worst part is that I don’t even give a shit about what people think of me! I don’t need to please everyone and I certainly don’t need everyone to like me, but it was the way in which they banded together, I guess, to “fight against their common enemy”. Namely, me. It was the idea that my blog, being a gaming World of Warcraft blog, was something worth mocking.

The comments that are hidden from view because this guy felt he deserved, no had a right, to comment on my blog and have them be posted publicly for everyone to read. He attacked my humanity. He attacked my hobbies. He attacked gamers and gaming. He attacked those identifiers that are part of who I am. It was more than just harsh words and criticisms, at least at the time.

My roommate (and ex-boyfriend) brushed it off. Told me I shouldn’t let it get to me. I shouldn’t care, because in the grand scheme of things, that guy and his followers didn’t matter. He was right, of course, that ex of mine. It just didn’t stop it from bothering me. And it certainly didn’t stop it from bothering me to the point that I simply limited what I was writing about on the internet. If I don’t say it, it can’t be used against me, right?

In the end, though, he won. He silenced another woman on the internet. So for 2 years, I’ve written posts that I never published. I wrote about things that mattered to me, but didn’t share them with anyone. I wrote and re-wrote but the time was wasted since I never posted them. I talk about writing and I am encouraged to write, by my friends closest to me and even seeming strangers, but I still seem to convince myself not to bother.

Will this be the start of a different trend?? I don’t know. I’ll see. For now, I just really wanted to see something different on my blog. ;)

The Big(ger) Picture

When thinking of the big picture, there’s so much that comes to mind for me. Especially because there’s been a lot of stuff going on with the guild, with my life, with recruitment, with friendships, with everything and I’m not always flawless at keeping the lines drawn between all of these things. Every now and again there’s a small thing that comes up and I take the opportunity to seize it. But I’m editorializing, or some such.

The internet at large knows that I am a feminist. I’m not only a feminist, but I’m someone who continues to have conversations about what my experiences have been like, and the stories that have been told to me. I talk about why it’s still a problem and engage in conversations about how and why it should be better. When Brianna Melina sent me a tweet some 30-ish hours ago, I was fielding her request in the same way I do with a lot of random people who tweet me out of the blue. Shifty eyes and a sideways glance. She asked me to do a survey for a research project. She admitted that she wasn’t a bot soliciting anything and just an exhausted graduate student. So I went through and read all the stuff on her survey. And then I proceeded to take the survey. It took me roughly a half hour, but I completely and entirely admit that I was leveling my little teeny gnome DK at the time (or running around bitching and moaning about blacksmithing materials at least).

What came next is still something that floors me. I am in awe of the internet. As much as I hate trolls and people who intentionally grief others. As much as I hate how easy it is to spread hate and be vile and be malicious toward other people. As much as I hate how the internet is a tool for fuckwits and asshats to band together and be a bigger group of fuckwits and asshats, I have to admit that this time it left me pretty in awe of its power.

I’ve seen it happen in the past. I watched the internet devour people like festering rats. I’ve watched it seek out their prey and stalk and kill them, online in virtual space. I’ve seen them chase good people off the internet. I’ve watched as the masses of misogynistic men chase feminist after feminist into hiding out of fear, after countless rape, violence, and death threats are tossed their way. This is a different kind of viral, though.

Over the last 30 hours I’ve watched my one tweet spread across the internet. I’ve watched as people ask me questions (at which point I kindly point them to Brianna’s twitter account). I explain that while it wasn’t intentional to not include her in the initial tweet (and oversight), I never once let people believe it was my research project. But when good questions came through, such as whether a transgendered woman could participate or if it included tabletop games or specifically video games, I let them know that I would let Brianna know and she would be the one to answer the question.

Never have I seen a tweet of mine be sent all over the internet like that. I know it’s done. I know it happens. I see the favorites rack up for Nathan Fillion’s tweets, Wil Wheaton’s tweets, or Felicia Day’s tweets. It never occurred to me that it would be a tweet I wrote that went across the globe. It made me wish I had a way to track the degrees of separation the tweet traveled. Who did you get it from and who saw it from your retweet, that sort of thing. 695 retweets (as of writing this).

Brianna has since posted an update and the number of responses she’s gotten has been astounding! And I continue to get Tweetbot notifications that it’s being retweeted.

The conversation is still being had out there. It’s still one that women are wanting to discuss, either openly or behind anonymity. It’s one that continues to be had across the internet. I know that I have a good number of followers in the WoW community on twitter. I try hard to stay engaged in conversations and make lasting friendships with people. I care about the people I talk to and get to know on a weirdly personal level. I’m sad when I lose friendships and I rejoice in the milestones of others. I make gifts for folks. I buy things from others. I share aspects of myself and my life on twitter. I am a real person there, as are many, MANY other people. The influx of new followers (over 30! holy crap!) is leaving me feeling a little bit scared and camera shy, so to speak.

When I posted that initial tweet I expected it to be retweeted probably 10-15 times and I might get Brianna 10-20 responses. I never, in my wildest dreams, expected her to get over 1500 responses from all over the world. To get strangers asking me questions and letting me know they were interested in the research. Research I now wish I could be a more active part of, because damn, how awesome is it going to be to run statistical analysis on the answers!

I had never gotten a tweet from her before and on the one hand I’m apologetic to her for the attention she’s getting as a result of the one tweet. On the other hand I know that the more responses she gets, the better her data will be, so I’m glad to have been a part of it.

If you haven’t had a chance to take the survey, considering doing so. There’s only a few stipulations. You need to identify as a woman and be 25 years or older.