I have seven alts in Guild Wars 2.

The Seven Deadly Sins

Joseph Skyrim created Talkback Challenge #4 for the 2015 Newbie Blogger Initiative based on the seven deadly sins. I’ve decided to use my seven alt characters in Guild Wars 2 as props for my responses. They represent the “sins” of being unfaithful to a main character. I mean that playfully, of course. Sometimes alts do feel like a guilty pleasure, though, don’t they?

The deadly sin of lust.

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?

I actively dislike such avatars and won’t play a game that prominently features buxom vixen NPCs in noticeable quantities. If it’s available to players I simply live and let live; for my part, the Ancestral Outfit I use on my characters in GW2 features cleavage that I could do without. I look to FF14’s character creator as a model for sensible limits on humanoid female proportions: balloon breasts do not exist and the skinniest available legs are still somewhat thick. I prefer to play more moderately proportioned heroines whom I would resemble had my mother’s uterus not malfunctioned. Oiled-up bunnies in lingerie armor are side-story material. An abundance of sexpots gives me the impression that we’re either in a Barbie factory or a house of debauchery; I wouldn’t want to spend prolonged periods in either of those milieux in the role of an adventurer.

The deadly sin of gluttony.

Gluttony – Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?

I don’t identify as a gamer in part because I’m not interested in playing numerous, varied titles. I obsess over a few games and patronize them faithfully. They, in addition to one or two new games per year, receive all of my rather moderately appropriated entertainment funds. I had made a resolution at the beginning of the year to play more games – this clearly isn’t my forté so there’s no point in trying to pretend.

The deadly sin of greed.

Greed – Do you enjoy handouts in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?

Items given to me for no reason that aren’t purely cosmetic are usually discarded. I’ve been known to cancel drive-by buffs handed out by well-meaning players. Handouts must make subjective sense given the context of the challenge – a buff in a group encounter is quite reasonable, whereas a particular game’s solo content may not necessitate external aid. It’s a personal determination I make on a case by case basis. I despise the worship of philosophical absolutism, so questions like “Would you take this handout in this situation?” are acerbic to my palate.

The completionist in me might decide to tick off the items of a laundry list if I really like the game. In that case, bonus prizes are irrelevant. If said line items are attached to a reward that makes me more powerful or does something for me that I like, I’ve already completed it.

The deadly sin of sloth.

Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?

I never leech consciously. I don’t recall the last time I did it. In the heyday of my youth among the orcs and elves we would occasionally see someone appear in the starting cave of Alterac Valley completely naked. They were convicted AFK honor farmers who had either been using a program to help them accrue points or had simply tried to auto-follow the nearest person. You’d recognize these bots in battlegrounds because they’d continually rotate to face your character while running at you. Many made a sport out of trying to kill them – clever bots would refuse to follow you into the deep sea or they’d jump repeatedly to prevent death due to oxygen loss.

It’s a shame, really, because I believe that players who leech, cheat, or hack should be not only publicly launched off a bridge but also stripped of their worldly possessions. I’d be willing to go a step further and subject them to humiliations galore by replacing their beloved character model with a limbless, misshapen blob that lacks the power of sight – but their ears they keep and I’ll tell you why: so that every shriek of every child at seeing their hideousness will be theirs to cherish. Every babe that weeps at their approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that thing?!” will echo in their perfect ears.

I don’t discourage others from attempting difficult things as long as I’m not dependent on their performance. I’ve been informed by others, for example, that having the healer kite the successive waves of adds around on the first boss of Cutter’s Cry in FF14 is “the way it’s done,” implying that prioritizing and burning down kill targets when each wave appears is a suboptimal and therefore undesirable way of completing that fight. The kiting method is more difficult if the healer isn’t familiar with it; I’m willing to have a go or two at it and would offer restrained encouragement. If that method were to fail twice, I’d want to try the “incorrect” method rather than having the tank initiate a vote-kick against the healer, prompting me to also depart. *cough*

When I see someone who needs help and I don’t help them it’s for one of several reasons: I’m not in a generous mood, I’ve played so much that I’ve become numb, the game’s culture or mechanics encourage more cutthroat behavior, etc. I’ll help someone in danger of dying for whom the Coffin Express would be a marked inconvenience, otherwise I don’t typically feel like playing the role of Superhero at Large. Members of my guild always receive help if I’m able.

The deadly sin of wrath.

Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry as to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?

I capitalize words but not sentences. For example, last week in FF14 I was tanking a dungeon. The Monk body-pulled a boss. This is dangerous because players have 15 seconds to cross the encounter area’s purple threshold line once the boss has been pulled or they will be locked out of the encounter. If your healer gets locked out, you are probably looking at a wipe. I typed “Do NOT do that” in party chat. They apologized multiple times to which I replied, “:)” because I was too pissed off to use complete sentences.

I get angry very quickly and too often. I do my best to control it, especially around people I like. Stalking is something I’ve almost never done. The last instance I recall was probably ten or twelve years ago when I started flaming someone in the Puzzle Pirates forums: they had folded in a poker match and it was down to me and one other player. They were out of the hand but still publicly opined via the chat window that they thought I was bluffing. My opponent called my bluff and I lost a substantial pot. I raged against the peanut gallery perpetrator in the forums until I ran out of steam. And by that I mean I got banned for using too much profanity.

These days I’d be more inclined to just go somewhere else or log out altogether.

The deadly sin of envy.

Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?

Players who have invested time in a grind or in “wipefests” make me covetous in a wistful sense: I wish I had the stamina and motivation to replicate their feats. If it’s primarily about skill, however, I feel bad that I’m not able to perform or compete at their level. Players who can complete fiendishly difficult jumping puzzles in Guild Wars 2 have my respect as do the individuals who are able to reproduce some of their tool-assisted NES speedrun tricks in real time. I’ve resigned myself to the opinion that I will probably never be as good as they are even if I were to invest a heck of a lot of time and effort; my envy eventually fades. It’s when it’s in my face that jealousy flares up again. When I’m crushed by an experienced WvW roamer on my Mesmer, for example, I’m so embarrassed and jealous that I wonder whether I should even bother trying.

Are they hacking or cheating? The people I encounter usually aren’t or at least don’t appear to be. If they are, refer to my comments under “sloth.”

The deadly sin of pride.

Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are underperforming? Why or why not?

I have no problem partying with “elite” players if they’re not assholes. If I’m not grouped up with people who are at least trying I tend to make a hasty departure. Ultimately, I want people to be happy playing their preferred role the way they want to play it. I understand and respect that people have different motivations for playing games. They may be playing because they like the story but are perhaps not so good at dodging obvious attacks, they may be engaging in group content because it’s necessary to get the best equipment, or they may be playing for fun on the weekend and aren’t interested in the theorizing and analysis required in order to realize their best personal performance. These are only a few possibilities.

I personally play games looking for things that make me feel feelings: primarily combat and usually in a role with high visibility. I am interested in becoming very good at whatever it is that I’m doing and I make no apologies for not wanting to be the absolute best. In my case, improvement happens intuitively and organically. It is not my primary motivator. Yes, I devote time to learning and mastery. What I don’t do is beat myself up about not wanting to be among the top 5% of Mesmers, Paladins, or Stalkers.

Correspondingly, I don’t get on other players’ cases about not being perfect or even good at what they’re doing. As long as I get the impression that they’re trying, then that’s good enough for me, even if we do wipe a couple of times because someone is learning or didn’t dance well enough. If I sense, however, that they do not care about their performance, I am quick to leave if the objective can be done at another time without serious penalty. If they are performing well enough but their conduct is egregious or their disconnections or diaper duties are a noticeable hindrance to the group’s progress, I’ll start the player replacement process if I’m in a leadership position, otherwise I’ll defer to someone else.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a dungeon vote-kick – as a healer, no less – after spending five minutes changing my twin daughters’ diapers. I didn’t have time to type anything because it required immediate attention (i.e. would have found its way to the carpet). When I came back, I attempted to apologize to the unmoving trio of frustrated players staring at me. The tank said “smh” in group chat and I was booted out of the dungeon. I was distraught, but I understand. Unless among friends, an unannounced absence of more than a few minutes or an announced absence of more than five to seven or so minutes is my personal threshold for starting the replacement process. I do not seek to exempt myself from my own guidelines and I certainly cannot claim to be without sin.

Newbie Blogger Initiative

Newbie Blogger Initiative

Do you like to play games? Would you like to try your hand at writing about things you like for an audience? Join the Newbie Blogger Initiative! The NBI, as we like to call it, centers around a month-long series of events in which veteran bloggers in this little gaming corner of the internet organize activities designed to help you channel your inner author and write with abandon. You can look over the kick-off announcement if you’d like to familiarize yourself with what things are all about. Alternatively, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Follow @newbieblogger2 on Twitter. If you don’t have or use Twitter, get it and start using it. Trust me, all the cool kids are doing it. I’m in my late 30s and I’m one of them.
  2. Bookmark and/or add www.newbiebloggerinitiative.com to your reader. Major announcements will be made on the front page. In fact, there are a couple of them already!
  3. Sign up for an NBI forum account and add your blog to the list of newbies. If you’re not a newbie blogger, consider signing up as a sponsor. If you’re not sure about which status would be more appropriate, feel free to ask.

If you’re thinking about all this and are still hesitant about jumping in, have a look at what some of our newbie bloggers have been talking about lately:

You can talk about anything you’d like and you’ll have an audience hanging on your every word. No pressure! Just go out there and start writing. It’ll be awesome! And remember: you have permission to suck! Not that you will, but just in case you thought you might have, you know, it’s all good.

Cherry Blossom Tree in Mist

Creative Blogging

Murf says I’m a creative blogger. Thanks, Murf. I agree. I’m forgoing faux humility and simply acknowledging Murf’s acknowledgement of my creative tendencies. I’ve been blogging for nearly a year now; during that time I’ve gone from breathy pop culture reference machine to feature cataloguer to purveyor of wistful reminiscences. I’ve settled on a relaxed, pensive, authentic voice and online representation. I publish at my leisure, when it’s ready. I find blogging to be an excellent choice for those of the pen who are inclined to use the “long form” as a means of expression and communication.

If you are like me in this regard – in other words, someone who would like to try their hand at keeping a public journal of their thoughts and experiences, I would recommend that you check out the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2015. Click the preceding link to be taken to the 2015 NBI’s kick-off page where you’ll receive instructions on how to sign up as a Newbie Blogger. This will put you in touch with numerous experienced and inexperienced bloggers who will be there to support your endeavors every step of the way. You’ll get signal boost from well-established sites, making what you’ve written visible to a large number of people. You’ll also get feedback on what you’ve written, support from blogging compatriots who have gone through what you’re going through (or will be going through) – heck, you might even land yourself a blogging mentor if you request one.

Newbie Blogger Initiative Logo

If this sounds interesting to you, don’t be shy! Jump right on in. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an established writer in another field or a first-timer. Everyone is welcome to join the fun and nobody is going to criticize you for having an off day. In fact, one of the mottos at the NBI is that “you have permission to suck.”

And with that said, I’m going to suck it up by responding to Murf’s catcall. The Creative Blogger Award asks you to link and thank the person who nominated you, state five facts about yourself, and then nominate 15-20 other bloggers for the award to whom you pass on the rules. I don’t know who came up with those numbers. They are far too large. I’m dividing them by 10 and going with the lower end of the range. Yes, I’m nominating 1.5 people for this “award.” You’ll see what I mean after the facts:

  1. I possess multiple advanced degrees but am currently driving buses for a living and enjoying it. Go figure.
  2. I have been sober for 16 months and counting after having been a hardcore alcoholic for 15 years.
  3. I am the oldest of three siblings. I have two younger, non-twin sisters. My son is the oldest of three siblings. He has two younger, identical twin sisters.
  4. I have wanted to quit blogging approximately 15-20 times but have managed to think it through rationally each time and have come to the conclusion that writing and being involved in a community of writers is something that I really enjoy.
  5. I’ve come to the conclusion that I play a Mesmer in Guild Wars 2 as my main character because purple is my favorite color. I am completely serious.

Staff Mesmer with Purple Energy

So, back to creative blogging: I’m nominating one person and non-nominating one person, which according to my math works out to be 1.5 people. The person I am actually nominating is Fiona Dunn whose blog, North East Nerd, talks about “literally everything.” I enjoy gaming blogs as much as the next person, but there’s something to be said about someone like Fiona who offers up splendiferous ruminations on the wide variety of creatively interesting things that people who are alive like to do. Go read it!

I am absolutely not, under any circumstances, nominating Jeromai who despises chain letters and things that resemble chain letters. However, there is the matter of regular, infectious creativity that cannot be overlooked and thus warrants a mention. I’m not going to link anything here as that would invite irritated growling with a pair of bared fangs attached to it, so I’ll leave it to you to type “Why I Game” into a search engine and see whether you come out of it with your hide intact. In the meantime I’ll be sitting here with an impish grin on my face imagining you rustling through the archives trying to find examples of pictographic poetry, interactive fiction, and perhaps even a tribute video to a game that is no longer with us; I’ll also be imagining Jeromai grinning wryly as you spend hours trying to find them.