Ali Rants · Video Games

When It’s Hard to Put the Past Behind You

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.

04-09-2010

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.

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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:

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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. ❤

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8 thoughts on “When It’s Hard to Put the Past Behind You

  1. Lovely post! I’ll be honest, I’m a bit fascinated by the drama of guilds because I like knowing I wasn’t the only one :’D
    I definitely know what it’s like to have toxic players, and I know even harder when I become pretty vicious over a game. League of Legends really impacted me in that, so I ended up leaving the game altogether because I didn’t like who I was becoming thanks to it.
    It’s easy to let a game consume to the point it gets more important than being kind and understanding, but it’s not worth it, at all.
    I’m glad to know you’ve been able to push through and are getting closure, I know what it’s like putting hours upon hours into a game and how it hurts when having to quit.
    My first taste of MMO’s was with Rangnarok Online, on a non-official server, and there was so much going in and lies and there was also a lot of unfriendless. We were supposed to be a group of friends getting together to try a MMO because we’d never, but it actually ended up fragmenting us. Basicly there was no cohesiveness, and no one tried to help members like me that didn’t know anything about the game, and mostly we played alone or in pairs. Then drama started, I got told things, I got pretty angry about said things, and it degenerated until we broke apart. I’m not even friends with them anymore, just more like acquaintances ._.
    It was a pretty blow because I’d grinded and levelled and then it became pretty much useless since we all stopped playing and it didn’t matter anymore ^^’

    Sorry if I rambled/unloaded here, it was like 5-6 years and I’m over it, I guess I just wanted to say you’re not alone? I dunno how well I expressed it though :”)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No it’s not rambling at all. You’re venting and letting it all out so it’s completely understandable. 🙂 It’s a tough pill to swallow when you take something like an avatar and you breathe life into it only to have to push it away due to outside influences. I’m not sure what my closure is but more than anything I hope you find peace with the end of your conflict in the past. I’m hoping I can find peace with mine too in some way. 🙂

      Like

  2. I went through something similar though I did my share of the drama too at different points. In the end I changed the character’s class and race since I didn’t have the courage to just outright delete him. There was too many things I achieved with him that I didn’t just want to delete. But I couldn’t leave him as is either as there were too many memories, both good and bad, attached to the character.

    I never really got into his new form though. I guess it is just hard to connect with a character when they are all leveled up even if their race and class have changed. At least it brought me some closure as I consider his older form dead and buried. I still miss the class though, it was a pretty fun one.

    I do hope this new version of your Alicara brings the closure you desire too and that she brings you nothing but good memories. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you. 🙂 I wish I knew exactly what I was looking for in doing this. A part of me wants to revive Alicara in a new state of the game, but the other part of me just wants to retain good memories as her last ones. I’ve got a deep rooted love for Rue and so many amazing memories attached to her that I love what she’s become. I just want that same feeling for the Death Elf too I guess. Hmm. 😊

      Like

  3. Ahh, MMO drama…I went through something similar in my days on Ragnarok Online. I still remember the game fondly, but let’s just say I’m happier playing an MMO casually rather than trying to be in the top guilds.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved this post. I play WoW, but took a long break because of guild drama. It was the best guild I was ever in, and I miss it daily. But some guild members had real life drama, and because of it, the guild disbanded. I ended up transferring to another server, had to change the spelling of my main’s name…. it sucked. I never thought I’d get so attached to people I’d never met, but I miss them and have never found another guild that matches that dynamic. And I never thought I’d get so attached to a computer character lol, but changing her name sucked so much. I guess WoW does that to a person 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m lucky to never have found myself in the same situation when it came to drama. Reading this makes me feel even more happy with my guild in LOTRO and now SWTOR. Of course I *have* seen drama in kinships/guilds, but never in the fashion that I felt I had to hide or disappear. It would also make me feel like I had been beaten, after all it’s *my* character. Which then would’ve made me angry and sad.

    Do you still have your character benched or did you delete it? And the drawings, they are amazing! Did you commission people to make them for you? I can totally understand why you love the character so much. It must’ve taken a lot of courage to write something this painful down; I can only hope it indeed helped you in any way.

    Anyway, I was really impressed by this post. I think it’s intriguing how we attach so many feelings to a bunch of pixels. I wrote a reply here with my own experience, in case you want to check it out: http://ravalation.blogspot.com/2016/04/when-character-gets-caught-in-web-of.html

    Rav

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have the heart to delete her so although my account is inactive, Alicara remains as a Blood Elf Death Knight as opposed to a Night Elf Death Knight.

      Thank you about the drawings! One I had commissioned and the second purple one was given to me for donating to a cause at the time. In many ways writing about lifted a small weight off my shoulders and recreating Alicara in FFXIV is helping some. I feel like it is her, but is isn’t her if that makes sense? I think ultimately she is physically gone, but Alicara in Eorzea keeps her spirit alive. I’m hoping that in doing this I can forge new memories and retain some semblance of her.

      I read this post too! I always read on all your great posts. I’m sorry that you and Ravalinde had to go through what you did but am glad that you have persevered through it. Whatever hurts us make us stronger and I think that’s just what happened for you and her. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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