Anxiety and finances greatly limit my ability to socialize at present, and today is unfortunately a perfect example of the latter. I don't feel too great at many things lately, but there is one tiny area of my life in which I am improving leaps and bounds.
Not so long ago, I mentioned my recent forays into an online game called Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). It all started when I would watch Ivan play. I was curious, so I always asked him tons of questions. He patiently answered them all, even when he was in the middle of RvR ("realm versus realm" or player versus player action in which you seek out other players' characters and try to kill them). Admittedly I made fun of him. A lot.
Little cartoon people! Fighting each other! How silly.
At first he let me try my hand with some of his characters. Then I developed a couple of my own. My playing has been irregular over several months, with some during which I never played at all because it felt too stressful. In the last month this has been changing.
I've tried my hand at several characters (or "toons"). I have a bonedancer (Boniemaronie), a shadowblade (Laesette), a warlock (Baettina), a spiritmaster (Lyddiaa), two valkyries (Sarahfinn and Serrafina), a healer (Egiesel), four shaman (Laecuna, Madelyn, Rozzie, and Ivancito), and--my current favorite--a runemaster (Runehillda).
There is a particular battlegound that I really enjoy for level 20-24 toons (out of 50 possible levels) called Thidranki. And I have started making "friends."
Oh, god. Am I a [*gulp*] gamer?
One evening I was running Runehillda around Thidranki with a group of folks. She is specced (or specializes in) runecarving, so she has some kick-ass purple fiery bolts that she shoots at others from great distances. I have come to really love those things. I bolt sorcerers, friars, vampires, and theurgists with a surprising amount of satisfaction.
Anyway, on this particular evening another player asked me to join his guild, the Knights of Thidranki. I gratefully accepted. Soon I was getting regular invitations to join their RvR groups. Other characters both in my guild and out would wave at me and cheer for me and hug me. We'd make plans to meet up online to play; we'd share tips and resources and character-leveling; we'd ask each other about our progress with various trade skills like spell-crafting and alchemy (I make potions!). We'd talk about where we were from, ask how each others' days had gone, and get advice about our characters and abilities. Quickly I discovered how good it felt.
Other people like me! They seek me out! They ask for my opinion! So what if it's not real!
Plus, I have something to do when I can't sleep. Which is often.
Even if you don't play games yourself, it can be very interesting to learn about the dynamics involved in them. There is a whole new language to learn. There are customs and social norms by which you need to abide (and those that don't are quickly called out). There are stereotypes about other classes and realms. I had to laugh the first time I, as a player for the realm of Midguard, found myself agreeing with statements about "dirty Albs" (players for Albion) and "tree-hugging Hibs" (players for Hibernia).
I play with teenagers, moms, and thirty-something dudes. I play with French people and German people. One lady that I play with was inspired to create her own runemaster after watching Runehillda bolt some fools down mercilessly. Early this morning we were running around together in Thidranki, and she asked me to "drive" (decide where to roam to look for enemy players and to pick and choose our battles). I normally rely on others to do this, so I felt a little apprehensive. I warned her that I hoped she wouldn't regret asking me, and she typed back, "nah...i've seen you play."
I've seen you play.
I got ridiculously emotional at the compliment and by the notion that I can still be good at something. Even if it only involves little cartoons fighting one another.
Maybe I need to get out more. Maybe I'm turning into a complete dork. But I'll take my confidence where I can get it.