Since the last major Heart of Thorns patch I’ve been spending a lot of time in Guild Wars 2. A long, long time ago, I claimed that GW2 was my “unicorn”, the mythical beast that is often sought after, but is rarely ever found (because, you know…being mythological). I eventually gave up on that claim once I’d gotten to the level cap and drifted away like everyone else, but every time I return, there’s really nothing I don’t like about the game. I quit HoT because of the balance issues, but the time away has allowed me to re-think how I’m playing the game and how my style might contribute to improving the experience.
I’ve re-focused my Ranger from Condition damage to straight up DPS, and have seen an improvement in my ability to get things done. This has allowed me to move ahead with the HoT story, and as brought back the enjoyment of the game.
Over the weekend I hosted our annual LAN Party in beautiful downtown my basement. LAN parties have (I think) gone out of vogue for reasons I’m not going to speculate on (mobile, consoles, faster Internet, and other non-speculative reasons) but my friends and I like to keep these particular fires burning not just for nostalgia’s sake, but also because as we’ve all gotten older, gotten married, gotten kids and other responsibilities, the opportunities for us to just sit down and stare at our screens for 12 hours a day in a non-work capacity has significantly diminished. Being in the same room not just allows us to communicate better (and drink and eat poorly) but it helps everyone get out of their usual orbits for a while.
Because The Division (PC) is still very much a thing, it’s pretty much all we played on Saturday. We had four people, although one was level 30 and the rest were level 13-15, so the 30 ran us through the entire rest of the story, leaving us at level 25 by the end of the day. At this point we only have Encounters, collections, and the re-running of the plot missions on other difficulty levels to deal with in an attempt to get to level 30.
Beyond that, I’m not sure I’ll partake in the Dark Zone or the Incursion that’s busting people’s balls. The DZ was fun the one time I did it, but that was in the lowbie bracket, and I hear that the capped bracket is a whole different, messy ballgame. I’m also not one for the punishment that the Incursion apparently provides, so I’ll sleep just fine without ever looking into it, I’m sure.
I was on vacation last week which meant no gaming and no blogging, but also very limited exposure to my normal routine and my normal “state of being”, which is to say that I was more immersed in “real life” and far less so in the “gaming community” than I normally am. That’s lead me to a kind of epiphany, maybe even a new direction for what I want to do with my life.
Like most of my posts, I had originally written this section as some long-winded, meandering set of paragraphs that skirted what I wanted to say as I stupidly focused on trying to sound “essay-ish”, so by the time I got to the end I wasn’t convinced that I’d gotten to my point.
So here’s the self-aware version: I need to stop thinking so much about the philosophical side of the community and the analysis of games as a hobby, a technology, and an industry.
I’ve never been qualified to take approaches towards any of those in the manner which I have been guilty of, but since 98% of bloggers fall into the same situation, qualifications never really mattered to me. I was going with the flow and felt rather smug about my results during the era when people actively said good things to me about the posts I wrote.
In the past year or two, as fewer and fewer people had anything to say about or to me regarding my content, I started to question not just the approach, but whether what I did really mattered, and since returning to my routines after vacation, I decided that it never mattered except in the act of doing it. Writing a post was something I could accomplish with finality when I otherwise had a bad habit of taking on projects that I would never finish. Along the way I wrongly convinced myself into thinking that more words meant more better philosophy.
I’ve never really been happy with what I’ve been writing. I’ve read back through my posts and yeah, there’s some gems here and there, although nothing like many of my posts that were lost to the fires of history. The more I saw my readership drop over time, the more I wondered why, and the closer I looked at my content, my approach, and even my personal appeal to the community and have found them all lacking. I have nothing extraordinary to say, and spend a lot of words saying it and shipping it to a crowd that I believe doesn’t really have much interest in me as a member of their personal community.
All of this is more of a “let’s write it down and see if it makes sense”, and it does. I’m not writing this down in an attempt to elicit sympathy, but over the past year I’ve been using this blog as a public notepad while I undergo this crisis of conscious centered on my confusion about where I am and where I want to be in this community, and how much actual power I have to direct my own course in that regard. I’ve come to the decision that some kind of damage has been done, whether it’s through my selected topics, my voice, my style, my nuking the blog from orbit (not once, but twice!) and losing loyal readers in the process, my presence on social media, my lack of presence on social media, my personal philosophy on butting into people’s cliques, of acting like I fit in or of abstaining from trying to fit in, of aging through a community which follows the trend of valuing the new over the experienced, and of having my own tastes and needs and desires change, fall out of fashion, or return to being en vogue over time. Too many variables to account for, and too many variables to tweak and monitor for results. I can’t extract myself from where I am now, and I think I’ve know this for a long time, hence the scorched earth attempts I’ve enacted in the past; the only change can be to wipe the slate clean and start over with hopefully better results.
So no more insight, real or imagined. It’s tiring, even when the stub of a subject comes naturally. No more unqualified pseudo-psychology, no more armchair deconstruction. This will also be the last time I write these self-reflective missives, so you can thank me for that in the comments.
What’s left after that? Not a lot, so I expect that my days of three posts a week are at an end. I’ll post when I feel I’ve accumulated enough inoffensive content and desire to want to post, and then just enough so it doesn’t look like I’m squatting the domain name. My aim is to lessen the burden on myself in trying to keep up with the Joneses of the blogosphere, and by degrees to detox this bizarre need to “become someone” in the community. I do not have a personality which draws people to me. I think in the end the trying only does more harm than good to myself and to my relationships with people around me when I focus more on this community imposed rat race than on the reason why we’re actually “a community”.