No ruminations on fanfiction today, my friends. This entry is going to be on something a little different, inspired by a somewhat unhappy event which occurred just Wednesday night. We’ll be back to our normal schedule next week, though I must warn you I’m almost done with my fanfic-related entries—that I have in my backlog, anyways.
This post, at least, deals with somewhat heavy subjects: Love and friendship. However, it looks at them through a somewhat whimsical lens—my experiences with guilds in MMORPGs, particularly my last guild, Destilance, in Vindictus. Allow me to explain.
As you know, I play Nexon’s action MMORPG, Vindictus, quite a bit. I have joined three guilds over the course of playing that game, and I loved all of them dearly. My first was Fable. I had a wonderful time there, but a hacker destroyed the guild. We remade it under the name “Heroism,” but many of us had left the game and the guild slowly faded away. My second guild, and the one I’ve spent the most time in so far, was Heaven and Earth. I also had a wonderful time there and made many great friends. We joked around with each other, helped in raids, and several of them were even kind enough to review Wayward Son. Alas, many of us grew bored of the game and stopped playing. My guild leader, Sando, was one of those, and my second guild faded away as well. After that, I happened upon a guild called Destilance. I chatted randomly one day with someone, they invited me to join their guild, and I accepted. Alas, my poor memory won’t permit me to recall when this was, but probably around six months or so ago. I had a pretty good time there as well, but it ended the day before yesterday.
Long story short, some nonsense drama caused the whole guild to blow up. I don’t want to go into details—I think it was remarkably silly and caused by overreactions. Still, by the time it was all over, my guild leaders were very frustrated and simply deleted the guild. They made a new one, but I didn’t decide to join. I instead joined another guild which I’d heard of from a friend, and I hope my experiences there will be as positive as the ones I had at my previous three guilds. I’ll do my best to ensure that!
So, what does all this have to do with love and friendship? Well, I’ll be honest. When Fable/Heroism faded away, I was pretty sad, though obviously not as sad as I’d be over, say, someone’s death or something. Same for the gradual dissolution of Heaven and Earth. And now, upon the death of my latest guild, well…I’m quite sad. Not that broken up about it, yes, but still more than trivially distressed.
Why? Why get even slightly troubled over the passing of a mere gaming guild? I will admit I may be a foolish man for feeling this way, but I do believe there are a few reasons for my feelings everyone can sympathize with.
Game or not, I did put a decent amount of time and effort into the guild. I wasn’t an admin, but I spent a few hours aiding newbies, assisting with raids, and generally being helpful. To see that disappear with the guild would naturally be somewhat disheartening. There’s another, even more important reason, though.
I loved them, I think. My guildmates, and the guild itself. I think I loved them genuinely, and I loved my previous guilds (Fable/Heroism and Heaven and Earth) along with their members as well.
Now, I know what you’re saying. ‘Love? You’re talking about ‘love’ in the context of an online game? Baaahahaha!” Well, hold on. Just hear me out.
Firstly, I’m obviously not speaking of romantic love. You can have that across the Internet, I suppose, and even within a game guild, but you can’t feel it for an entire guild (or any other community) as a whole. So what kind of love am I talking about?
There are many definitions of the concept. The Greeks had several (Philos or friendship, Eros or erotic, Agape or ‘Godly’ love, and so on), but I’m not a philosopher, so I’ll not make myself look foolish by pontificating upon those weighty terms. For me, love is something more general, though still not entirely synonymous with romantic or sexual love.
For me, love is when someone smiles when they see you, and tell you they want to see you again when they leave. It’s when someone smiles even more when you’re happy, and offers a kind word when you’re sad. It’s when they laugh at your goofy jokes and you laugh at theirs. It’s when someone, and just as often a group of people, let you know that you’ll always have a place under their roof, and among them, you’ll always be able to enjoy a respite from the harshness of the outside world, no matter how brief. I suppose all this sounds like friendship. If it does, as far as I’m concerned, friendship is valuable enough to be as worthy as love. It is this sort of feeling I cherish as much as anything else in the world, this feeling I regard as sacred, and this feeling which comes respectably close to providing a purpose in life. I therefore honor it wherever it is found, even in places like MMORPG guilds or internet forums. No community is too small or insignificant to prevent me from appreciating it if it holds love, as I define it.
All my guilds had that. In Heroism, we’d sit around and laugh and chat with each other, always happy to see a friend log on and eager to see them again when they left. In Heaven and Earth, my friends would never fail to laugh at my various silly jokes and affectations, and they’d always be willing to chat with me about my life and my various IRL travails, offering advice when they could and a sympathetic ear when they could do nothing else. And at Destilance…
Just as in Heroism, they were sad to see me sad, happy to see me happy, and did their best to keep me in the latter state. Just as in HaE, they enjoyed, or at least humored, my various silly, goofy jokes and stunts, which I make use of to relax when I can. They brightened up when I logged on, and really enjoyed my presence—they knew I could be relied on if necessary, and they even had a bunch of little pet names for me. Destilance was a place where I could escape a sometimes-unkind world, a place where I knew I belonged, where I knew I could be at ease, if even for a short while. A place where people cared about me.
A place where I was loved—at least by my definition.
It is, therefore, a place I am sorry to see go. There is a deficit, not a surfeit of love in this world, IMO. Given how many people can live their lives without knowing love, if even the smallest, most insignificant community of any form knows love, it is a pity to watch it disappear.
It’s not the end of the world, though. My friends are still around and I was on good terms with everybody. I don’t see that changing even if we’re in different guilds, now. Despite that, as I implied above, I had a bit of attachment to Destilance itself—the guild. I think it’s analogous to the attachments people have to buildings or familiar places. For example, a house you grew up in might have great sentimental meaning for you. You may grow sad to leave it or see it demolished, even if the inhabitants you love are still with you. That’s how I feel about guilds and other communities. Even if my friends are still around and in contact with me, the guild itself—the place where I made and shared so many good memories—is gone, and leaves something empty in my heart.
Even so, I’m not *too* broken up about this. A few years ago, I might have been. There were a few other internet communities which declined or which I grew away from, and when I was younger I dealt with those in a much more irrational, less mature fashion. Maybe I’ll write about that later, but for now, let me segue into why I’m much more calm over the fate of Destilance. Yes, yes, it was just a guild, and I oughtn’t take it too seriously, but there’s another reason I’m not utterly despondent. A reason I think applies to a wide variety of situations far beyond and far more important than the Internet.
Simply put, I still have all the memories of my time there. All the love I received, all the lessons I learned, all the strength and experience I was given, I still retain. And I always will—at least, so long as my memory holds, haha. I’ll paraphrase the last things I said to my guild leaders:
“I enjoyed my time in Destilance, and I was able to experience everything I did because you recruited me. I had the opportunity to have so much fun and meet so many great people, like all the friends I made. I’ll always be grateful for being given those opportunities, and I’ll always be thankful for everything I gained at this guild.”
As you can see, I left with words of thanks, not bitterness or recrimination. If you’re parting from a person or a group, I think this is a much more mature attitude to take, even under worse circumstances than mine. Rather than focusing on the pain of being removed from an organization, or a breakup, or whatever, think of the good experiences you had, and think of how much you learned and grew, and remember that all that will always stay with you. No-one, nothing, can ever steal it away. Not even the people who broke up with you or otherwise rejected you.
I realize it’s easy for me to say this when I’m just talking about a comparatively tame dissolution of a small internet guild. Still, even in really, really bad cases—a nasty divorce, an untimely death—I hope this mode of thinking can provide at least some solace. The ending of a relationship (romantic or professional, as with an organization or company) might be terrible, but it must have had at least one decent moment at one point, right? Hold on to that moment and its memory, and let the other person hold on to their bitterness if they so choose. You can simply say, “If you don’t want to be with me, fine. As much misery as you may try to inflict, I will remember, and be grateful for, what kindness you showed me, no matter how small.” You can part from them in peace, and you’ll likely be calmer and happier than they’ll ever be. If someone close to you dies, a part of them will live on—forever—in you, as cliché as it sounds. Just as the love I enjoyed in my little guild will strengthen me for the rest of my days, the joy a departed friend gave you in life will persist long after his or her death. Hold on to that, and you may find the grief of loss to be allayed, even a little.
Hah, in any case, that about does it for this Friday’s sermon 😄 One more thing to note: As much as I loved Destilance, and as much as I hope I’ll love my new guild, these aren’t the only places at which I’ve experienced love. My best bro at our own (personal) lil’ website, my brethren at /m/, /m/subs, and the Castlevania Dungeon, and of course my dear friends IRL…I’ve had love from all of them. Expect a few entries gushing about my positive experiences with all these folks and places in the future! Additionally, I also hope to examine the concept as portrayed in anime and games, such as Muv-Luv. See you next week…or sooner! 😉