As readers of this blog will recognize, I often struggle with how I feel about this situation or that and that as often as not my emotions play a significant role in making decisions. I can intellectualize things but at the end of the day it has to feel right or it’s the wrong answer for me.
I have often felt that a number of the rules of the Realms are just flat silly. I think they often overreach, are sometimes unevenly enforced and could be better resolved by an examination of root behaviours. I also understand that in order to resolve those problems would require a tremendous effort and I don’t think anyone wants to spend their recreation time being an amateur lawyer or unpaid babysitter. I generally try to play within the rules by buying into the idea of the “good of the Realms”. If I stake an area endlessly I deprive others of the chance to come get whatever I’m staking. If I flood the market with some piece of equipment just for the sake of driving the price down I devalue the efforts of others trying to accomplish the same goals (though I don’t buy into the economy idea, but that’s a different tirade), if I complain endlessly without trying to find ways to contribute to a solution then I am sapping the energy of others who might want to contribute. These are but a few examples of some of the things I feel work. I posted it when I left the game all those years ago, leave Realms better than you found it. That’s me. I don’t always succeed and to be honest I don’t even always try, but I think I do more good than harm by a long shot.
I feel that I conduct myself honourably… oh wait, let’s back up and define it: Merriam-Webster says that honour is “respect that is given to someone who is admired”, “good reputation, good quality or character as judged by other people”, “high moral standards of behaviour”, “a showing of usually merited respect”, “one’s word given as a guarantee of performance” … it’s very clear that there are many facets of what can be considered as honourable.
Some of the things I do not feel reflect honourably on people or organizations on Realms include frequently being helled for breaking rules, attempting to skirt the rules by arguing against the letter of the rules when the spirit is quite clear, intentionally exploiting other players in bad trades, stealing from donations or organizations … the list goes on but these are some obvious ones. Let’s try a couple more. Caring about improving your organization to the point that you do not care about any detrimental effects you have on other organizations. Attracting people with an expression of friendship and mutual goals but treating them like a warm body instead of a part of the team. Volunteering to spearhead projects or organizations and then disappearing without so much as a word for weeks on end. Picking activities based solely on your goals and gains but not supporting the goals of others who help you accomplish yours. I think those things also fail to meet the social contract for honourable behaviour.
One of the things that has always felt right is promoting camaraderie within the Realms of Despair, especially in the organizations I participate in. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a feeling of good friendship among the people in a group”. There are a variety of definitions but all of them emphasize friendship and either state or imply trust as properties that have to exist.
Contrary to what some might think, I do not come to Realms looking to make new friends that I will have and cherish the rest of my life. Most of my friends on Realms would disappear from my life if they logged out of Realms and never came back. There are a select few who I would know how to get a hold of outside Realms by email or phone but there are very few. I talked a little bit about this before but a recent comment that I want more than some people are willing to give made me realize that perhaps I need to just tone it down a bit. Sure, I know details of lots of people’s lives… marital status, state or province (maybe even city) of residence, number of kids, perhaps – and this is one of those fine lines – I might know their kid’s names … these things are not a big deal to me. It’s just a way of personalizing a line of text into a person instead of a chat program. So to me friendship on Realms is mostly about having people around who I enjoy chatting with, who are interested in some of the same types of game play I am interested in and who I enjoy spending leisure time with. When these people leave Realms I do miss them but the fact is that Realms is what we had in common.
So in general I think if I want to promote camaraderie within Realms then part of that is being at least minimally social. Saying hello at least to my organization when I log in, normally saying good bye, engaging in a little small talk. If I can’t achieve that small amount then I don’t think that I can move past anonymous text to anything like even online friendship. I’ll also say I think that it is very hard to trust anyone that I do not believe behaves in an honourable manner. If they’re willing to screw over others, how long before they screw me over? To me camaraderie requires both aspects, friendship and trust. There are those on Realms who I enjoy associating with but I would never trust. Similarly there are those I feel I can trust but don’t care to associate with.
So why talk about honor and camaraderie? I guess I didn’t like being told that I had excessive expectations of people leading an organization that “stands as a testament to Honor, Comaraderie” and some other stuff by someone who endlessly farms and gets helled for botting when they disappear for 3 weeks without so much as a note saying “hey, we need a break”.
Huh. I got the idea these things were important by people who remember my efforts in organizations like the Guild of Druids 10 years ago who come back and tell me how fondly they remember that game play. I got the idea from the immortals who share their recollections about their experiences.
… but maybe I’m the asshole, won’t be the first time, won’t be the last.