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 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 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.

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.”