Re-joining Aelyria for this blog project hasn’t felt as nostalgic as I thought it would. A lot of that is because I’m keeping myself reined in fairly tightly, and not doing more than one thread, staying firmly anchored in the storyline of Patrick Lenton and his weird gnome + dog person journey. This is mostly because I really don’t have time for more, and as I’ve mentioned before, the danger of Aelyria is when you spiral out of control and suddenly have a seven short story equivalents to write every morning. The other is that I don’t understand some of the new game mechanics, and have no real desire to learn how time works.
But I think the real reason it’s not feeling like the grand old days is that I haven’t engaged socially. This shouldn’t be a surprise – this entire project is literally about engaging with the social aspect of the game, so without it, it’s vaguely hollow. Why haven’t I engaged socially? Once again – time, mostly. I also don’t know any current players, except for the people who I road tripped with. I also don’t know if they’re even playing anymore.
And I just don’t have the kind of life that’s conducive to sitting in a chat room or playing around on the OOC (out of character) forums. Back when I was younger, it was very much a community thing, about finding my people, especially outside of high school. I’ve written about this before. I’ve been writing an article about how important it was for me to find my community online, especially in regards to the protest against the Safe School’s initiative in Australia. My high school life went from barbaric to below tolerable, and homophobic assholes in Australia want to reject a program designed to specifically stop that from happening.
Although while I was writing this, I also thought about the downside of this kind of community. It was great for me when I needed it, and then when I didn’t, I pretty much fucked off without even a ‘LOL bye’. But for people more involved in the online community than me, there has to be a tension between wanting the social aspect and playing the game. Is your social life and friendships based on your actual engagement with the game? Are you allowed to come and hang in the chatroom if you’ve no longer the time/ inclination to write? Or does the social aspect simply mutate beyond the constraints of the game? Regardless of these questions, there’s also a lot of infighting and gossip, and I’ve seen what happens when a dominant clique makes the chat and forums become unwelcome for a person. All that safe harbour, all that feeling of belonging dissipates. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in real life too – but perhaps there is something more vicious or subtle online. I don’t know. I feel like the rose tinted article about the joy of online communities has been written a few times – maybe I should write one about hate and bullying on fantasy game boards?