I’ll be honest; I’ve been very apprehensive on writing this specific topic since the inception of the blog. The thought of revisiting something that I feel both positive and negative emotions for? I had a bit of an internal struggle, as trivial as the subject matter is. I think with “30 Days of ARPil” now live and happening, it’s natural that this nagging feeling in the back of my mind would come to surface. I wasn’t sure how to properly word and convey this post, but this post is long overdue. Nevertheless I’m going to write about it anyway in hopes that maybe I’ll find closure in all this.
What is this specific closure going to be? I’m not sure.
It’s a date that’s engraved in my mind as a gamer. In the first MMO I had ever played at the time, World of Warcraft, I had one goal. After finally playing my frost mage, Aliaga, all the way to level 55, I created… her. For two months (I’m a slow leveler) I plowed through game content to get my beloved Frost Death Knight, Alicara, to max level which was level 80 at the time.
There was a little NA server called Doomhammer that I rolled my main on, playing with a real life friend of mine. She introduced me to some friends of hers she had made through a podcast; come to find out that even today? She along with two of the three podcast hosts on that show I gained lifelong friendships with. To take it one step further? One of my guildies in that guild is now Rue’s current FC leader in FFXIV. It’s a small, but funny world we live in.
That moment I hit 55? It was time. I had thought long and hard about the Death Knight I had wanted to make. Being that this all happened during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion? The lore of the story drew me in like Arthas to Frostmourne. We were an Alliance based guild, so just as I had started the game back in 2009, I was dead set on making Alicara a Night Elf, and I knew without a doubt she would become a Frost specced DK. I have a thing for dual wielding. Axes are my preference, but depending on the patch? I would go back to dual wielding swords if need be.
Her original name was going to be “Brrbarella” as a punderful play on words in a name. It almost happened too until Rai (former guildie / current FC leader) knew my love of pro-wrestling. We joked that she could be named Ali Cara in homage to the recent Lucha acquisition from the WWE, Sin Cara. He said he was going to roll an alt just to steal the name, so I rushed to the loading screen to make her and claim that name. Clearly, we know who was faster in that game.
I didn’t know then that what would follow the minute I clicked “Start” would be four years of laughter, tears, milestones and sorrow all wrapped up into one pixelated avatar.
At this point I could probably write a novel on the specifics, but in the span of Alicara’s “life cycle” I underwent two moves into new apartments, two serious long distance relationships, four years of podcasting about video games and pro wrestling with my very best friends, and drama. Lots and lots of unwarranted drama.
Being that the podcast I was on was tied into the MMO, I made a lot of friends on social media that give their contributions to the WoW community either being proactively involved in the game, contributed to fan sites, or was just a social butterfly. Some I still retain good friendships with as they are some really genuine and sincere individuals. I wish I could say the same for others, but there were some that left such a bitter taste in my mouth and an uneasy air to the environment I reached a breaking point.
I didn’t want to be a part of a community that encouraged niche social circles and cliques for others to be left out like black sheep. I didn’t want be associated with folks who judged and chastised others based on hearsay that their friends told them. I didn’t want to feel frustration from reading a Twitter feed of anger, sadness, corruption and narrow minded criticism. I know full well that those same traits and tropes of people exist in all game communities, but truly I felt it the heaviest in that MMO. Couple all this with the fact of real drama brewing internally with members of the guild I was in on Doomhammer, ending a 2 year relationship with someone I truly loved, and losing my excitement and appreciation for the game especially in the PvP arena I ultimately did the only thing that made sense and seemed easy to do.
I ran away.
In the months leading up to my silent departure, I race changed Alicara from a Night Elf Death Knight to a Blood Elf Death Knight. Thankfully, some dear friends of mine on Drenden let me take residence in their guild. I’m grateful for TTGF in so many ways. I didn’t know when I would leave, but I knew quietly that that option was on the horizon. Yet in the thick of all this mess they reminded me that good, sincere, kind hearted people still exist in that game. I’m thankful that I still retain close friends from TTGF, but I still knew that at some point I would bid farewell to Azeroth.
That last night I logged in, I quietly took Alicara to Dalaran, I looked her up and down, and I wept. I felt like a parent abandoning her child. I invested so much into her and always loved her since the day I made her, but I couldn’t cope with the drama and negativity that followed her alias and persona. And with that I logged off one last time.
In the months that followed I strived to find another game, another alias, a fresh start and a second chance to find a game and a community that made me feel whole again. I found that second chance in FFXIV, and as they say? The rest is history.
“But— but— But what about Alicara? Don’t you miss her? Do you ever think about her?”
I do. All the time. I remember when the Dark Knight class was introduced prior to Heavensward and I trembled with excitement. Maybe… maybe I could bring her back in XIV. When Heavensward finally arrived I worked on her to try and create her in Alicara 1.0’s likeness, but the minute I would try and click “Start”? I couldn’t do it. I tried again and got as far as finishing the opening cutscene, only to wind up deleting her immediately after. It’s just a game, and I’m fully aware of that. You wouldn’t believe though the impressions and irrational fears that a game and its community can leave on a person. For me it wasn’t worth the anxiety so like all the other attempts in the past I just deleted and went back to where my happy place has always been on that catgirl maid of mine.
Now, with “ARPil” going on and reading folks back stories on their characters, and reading Ravanel Griffon’s amazing post on her return in LotRO, I told myself I have to try again, so I did today just one week shy of the original Alicara’s anniversary:
Listen it’s hard to recreate the same thing from one game to next, but with a good cup of coffee, determination, drive, and some bitchin’ new hairstyles I’m happy with the final product.
For all the reasons stated above and then some I’m excited to level Alicara in Eorzea, but for now I intend on doing so quietly and privately. I have her in an FC home with some great friends of mine and I plan on leveling her to main DRK, level up Mining and Blacksmithing just like she was before for money, and PvP on her. This might the first and last time she’ll probably be mentioned on this blog, but maybe? Maybe I’ll open up. We’ll see.
This is a long post so I apologize for that, but I do want to make one final note in all of this. If you’ve lasted this long reading the post I commend you. If you forget everything I wrote in this post that’s okay, but just— know this:
This is just a game, but the people behind those pixelated characters? Those are real, genuine individuals. Just like you and me they are comprised of flesh, blood, and true emotions. We may have a screen between us and to some folks that translates to no filter, but our words and actions can impact a person in both positive and negative ways. Be mindful in what you say and how you treat others, because you never know what’s going on on the receiving end. “Astra inclinant, sed non obligant”: “The stars incline us, but they do not bind us”. People, like fate, can influence us to do one thing but free will exists so that the choice of any circumstance is of our own volition. Never forget that. ❤