Virtual Community in a Vacuum

*sigh* I’m back to talk about Knights and Dragons again. I’ve finally realized what I meant when I kept saying that leaving my second guild in this game “felt like a breakup.” Basically, the experience contained these two parts:

  1. My guild had become a significant part of my life because I don’t really have a social life any more, and they really were the only people that I got to talk to on a daily basis (besides my husband).
  2. My guild expected things from me that I wasn’t comfortable with, but which I tried to accommodate because they were significant to me.

So, it was a big loss when I had to leave them because they finally asked for too much. I immediately joined another guild because it truly benefits my character to be a part of one (better rewards, access to more events, etc.). I had encountered one of its members earlier and the guild’s name (Life Happens) gave me the impression that there wouldn’t be many rules about participation levels, spending real money, and so on.

At first, there weren’t. It was pretty good for me, and I got to grow much stronger. I earned a promotion, I got to influence guild decisions, and I enjoyed being with them. I had boundaries this time, and I kept them. No one got to text me directly. I got to choose how I would spend my gems. Until we became successful. At that point, the top members of the guild decided to join an alliance, which is a group of players who spend a lot of time and money on the game.

They wanted me to reinstall the chat app so that they could text me. I wouldn’t. I left silently and changed my name. It hurt less this time.

Now, I’m in “Spikey Ninjas,” which has lived up to its motto thus far. No one has demanded that we sacrifice our real lives or money for the sake of the guild. It’s working out pretty well, but I’m still wary. It only takes a few people to decide that the whole guild needs to change, and if it happens again, I’ll leave quietly.

I miss having friends. Real friends. But for now, virtual communities are about all that I can have, so they will just need to be enough. I guess.


Act 6- Departure

My husband encouraged me to leave them, mourned the ways that I had let people treat me and the things I had done against my will. I cried about that too, and the weight of my lack of concern for myself poured out on me.

I see myself like dirt, so I let people treat me like dirt, and it just continues. This is sad. No one should be like this.

I slept. I didn’t log in the next day, because the war was still going on. Yesterday, I logged on as soon as the war ended, hoping to leave, but a raid had started right on the heels of the war. Seconds were all that I may have had between events, and I missed the window of escape. So I logged out.

The raid ended two hours ago today. I should be able to slip out, delete all my friends, change my name, and create enough space that I could play on my own, if I still want to.

I haven’t left yet because I’ve been writing these entries today. My battery is almost dead; I don’t know if I will have enough power left to disappear fully before my phone dies. I’m not home, after all. 6% left. I’ll see if I can borrow a charger.

I may be free this afternoon after all.

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 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.