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.”

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