Act 5- The Meltdown

Three days ago, we were fighting a war, and I decided to spend some gems on a battle. Gems are the premium currency- the ones that you spend money to purchase or earn for free by watching ads. For weeks, I have been watching ads to earn gems, and I usually spend them on upgrading my base or opening chests to get gear. Sometimes, I spend them on guild events, if I feel like it.

I was fine with that.

But then, I looked in guild chat, and saw that one of our members had asked me to spend gems on the fight and thanked me for doing so. And I was pissed. Because this guild member tried to get us to kick half of the guild, felt very entitled to promotions, is very elitist and arrogant, brags about his real life, and has been kicked from the guild once already for his behavior. (He got back in because our leader wanted to give him another chance, and she has since returned his promotion.)

No one has a right to insist that someone else spends money on an app. Ever.

No one has a right to demand that someone else sacrifice so that he might have better rewards. Ever.

Selfish little child. (I also know the user’s age, which is one of those things that shouldn’t be shared online.) So I know that he is young enough to be egocentric and too young for me to listen to, even were he in any type of authority over me. Still, it’s mostly the attitude that determines my lack of respect.

I was upset and hurt. I lashed out in guild chat- told him he has no right to boss me around and that I can choose what to spend my time and money on. I logged off. I deleted Line. I cried with my husband. I went to sleep.

Act 4- Violation

Remember my rules? Along the way, my list had changed a bit, according to my level of involvement. Here’s an updated version:

  1. Don’t spend money on the game.
  2. Don’t join a guild.
  3. Don’t install Line.
  4. Don’t take the game to bed with you.
  5. Don’t play while your husband is home– spend time with him.

As you can see, I downloaded Line. The guild master wanted us to add the app, and since I was 2nd in command and Guild Champion by now, I added it against my will in order to uphold the guild rules. Text messages and sticker spam bothered me so frequently that I had to keep my phone on silent, which meant that I missed messages and calls from friends and family as well.

I had started bringing my phone to bed with me, to play before I fell asleep or when I awoke in the middle of the night. I knew it was unhealthy, but I rationalized it fairly well. I didn’t play in bed every night, and using all my energy could provide a sense of closure at the end of my day.

Once we started to get serious about events, I couldn’t avoid playing during my husband’s off hours any longer. But fighting 4 battles doesn’t take more than a few minutes, so I could participate in raids and wars easily without upsetting our rhythm much. And there is down time in a marriage, so I only played during these moments, not during time we were spending together, so I only partially broke this one.

I did things that I did not want to do, because I felt they were beneficial to the guild as a whole. I violated my principles and myself to strengthen the guild, but I have low self esteem, so I don’t really take that kind of thing very seriously.

Small things happened during this time, rule changes and players being kicked spontaneously for little reason at all, and I grew uncomfortable, but I could bear it… At least for a while.

Act 3- Taking Things Up a Notch

One of my guild mates, the strongest player and 2nd in command, left our guild to form her own. She was more than twice my level, but she still invited me to join her. I was shocked, flattered, stunned. She wanted me, a little level 30 noob to join her!

I followed her to the new guild quickly, almost without thinking. I had now broken my promise to myself twice, but still, I thought it would be fine.

The two of us were the only members of our new guild for at least two guild events… A couple of weeks at least. We talked a lot. We placed in the top 500, just the two of us. We saw potential.

KnD locks guild rosters during guild events: no one may join, leave, be kicked, be promoted, or be demoted until the event is over. As soon as we had a chance, we spammed invites to everyone we could find- anyone, any level, guild member or not. Within a few days, we had almost 20 people.

Despite member turnovers, our guild grew- top 400, top 300, top 250. We earned great rewards, our members started participating in events, everyone leveled. It seemed like it was going to be good.

I wanted to say “I’ll never leave.” I wanted to hide the leave guild button. Warning flags went off, so I didn’t. But I thought it. Many times.

It was our golden age, our honeymoon phase. Everything was looking up, and any problems were overlooked because of the things that were going well. Who cares that the level requirement for joining the guild is fluctuating? Who cares that rules change without warning? Who cares that we’re adding rules? It’s fine, isn’t it?

It will be ok, won’t it?

Act 2- Blurring the Lines

As I mentioned, a guild invite arrived one day, and I had sworn not to join a guild. I could have deleted it, but I didn’t. It’s like having your heart broken and swearing never to let anyone close again; you are protected from the pain, but you also miss out on the joy too. Overall, it can be an immature response.

So I did some research. The top tier guilds all used a chat app to communicate- it’s called Line and it’s available here. The app allows free texts and calls, and it really increases the permeation of KnD into a player’s real life. Battle updates during business meetings,  raid reminders while running errands. No room left for down time once it’s installed.

So I added a rule for myself: I will not install Line. I want to maintain work and life balance.

The guild that invited me was a poorly organized, noob guild. No requirements for members, line wasn’t necessary, and they had no chance of making it to the top tiers. It looked safe; it really did.

  1. Don’t spend real money.
  2. Don’t join a guild.
  3. Don’t install Line.

I joined them. I chose to try again. I started connecting to the guild, doing my part, working for the team. Some of the guild rules bothered me- mandatory gold donations, for example- but I thought that things would be fine, or that maybe I could leave later if things didn’t work out. I crossed a line, and I justified it.

But then, the guild master stopped logging in every day, and he wasn’t participating in guild wars or raids, just taking rewards. It grew uncomfortable, and I was pretty ready to leave.

One day shortly thereafter, I got the chance.

Act 1- Infatuation

Ten weeks ago, I found a new mobile RPG, Knights and Dragons. (Dragons are very popular in these games, I suppose.) Here is the  Facebook page for the game, if you’re curious.

Again, I liked the art style, and it looked casual, interesting, and fun. I started playing, but because of my time with LoD, I made two promises to myself: I will not spend money on this game, and I will not join a guild. I wasn’t going to be hurt like that again.

Things were pretty great- I enjoyed playing solo, even if some challenges, like Ghede, my first epic boss (pictured above), were too strong for me. It was good to grow and learn, and I adapted well. I searched for a friend code list and added some people. I explored and found new monsters.

I played frequently to get the most from the game. I leveled up. I did quests. I found new armors. I grew stronger. I enjoyed playing. Things were going well.

And then the invite came.

Prologue

About three years ago, I played the mobile app “Lord of the Dragons.” For the curious, the official app page is here.

I loved it- the game had an art style I enjoyed, a level up system that was easy to understand, a good social system,  and several elements that encouraged daily play. It was easy to be addicted to, and I dove straight in.

I joined a guild that was just starting up, and my commitment, enthusiasm, friendliness, and investment in the guild helped me rise to the top. I was soon one of our top 5 players, serving as the welcoming committee and one of our most devoted fighters. In LoD, like in many mobile RPGs, success in PvP is mostly about showing up consistently and fighting as often as possible, rather than being the strongest warrior on the team.

I watched our guild grow and I did all that I could to set us up for success. I renamed my accounts to suit the guild’s Marvel superheroes theme. I formed a second account on my family’s tablet. I convinced my brother to join. Soon, we brought three strong accounts to all guild battles, with coordinated attacks and maximum firepower. I developed many of the gambits we used in battles, maximizing the guild’s potential by empowering the weaker members to defeat much more powerful goes. We had strategies, high participation in events, and we took many guilds by surprise. We climbed into the top 250, maybe even the top 100, guilds very naturally. I spent money on my characters. I learned real life details of my guild mates. I was totally invested, and it was great.

Then our 2nd in command left the guild. Suddenly. Without warning. And he made his own guild.

And everything crumbled, bit by bit. I was caught between the two guilds, and I doubted everything we had accomplished.

I left my guild and joined the ex-2nd in command’s new guild, because I couldn’t take the drama in our old guild. But then I doubted myself, like a woman leaving an abuser that she loved: she wonders if it was really so bad, she thinks he needs her, she feels guilty, she blames herself for some of the chaos and pain.

And I went back to them.

But it wasn’t the same. The guild master stopped playing. Nothing worked well any more.

I couldn’t stay and I couldn’t leave. There was no place for me.

So I left again and formed my own guild as a sanctuary for my accounts and my brother. He joined another top 250 guild for a while, but it soon became clear that we were both burned out.

I uninstalled the game from my devices and promised myself “Never again.”

Fast Loyalty

One of the things that I have done routinely is commit to things very quickly, whether it’s a boyfriend, a job, a college major, or, in this case, a guild in an online game. I like being on a team, contributing to something bigger than myself, and giving my all to things and people. I’m an “all in” type of person, and I always have been.

Normally, this is fine… Well, wait. Actually, most of the time, it doesn’t really work out well for me in the long run. Friendships aren’t always as deep as you think they’ll be, boyfriends/girlfriends don’t have to love you like you love them, employers don’t need to care about the work you do, and team members don’t often play the game just like you do. It’s been pretty rare for me to find friends who form genuine, deep relationships; this marriage is my first relationship where both of us can really be hurt or comforted reciprocally; I’ve never had a guild that I could really support fully.

Wow. I… I started this entry with the belief that things normally went well for me when I trusted others. It’s a little hard to know what to say now.

I guess that I’ll just present the issue as a story, bring in the players as they appear, and walk you through the journey piece by piece. That will give you the chance to catch up and it might help me to get the pieces sorted out.