The Epic Legends: The Beautiful Game – Part Two

The next cycle saw great changes in the guild, the ancient ancestral ties to 1up and the Legendary Thread podcast were severed, I became pretty well liked.  I didn’t beg for officer status, well, not much.  Eventually I even got it, though the person who promoted me was drunk beyond reckoning at the time.  Drunk Vent Saturdays became a thing.  Raiding, endgame content, actually was within our grasp.  We had our bumps along the way, some people left the game, some people left for greener pastures in more hardcore raiding guilds.  CQY endured, though.

Online communities founded by those with “internet fame” have a curse, I’ve noticed.  The people who join them initially will all be there out of common purpose, which is mostly to slob the knobs of whoever created the thing.  As time goes by people get to know each other, and the founders lose interest, seeing as they usually are internet famous for a reason that doesn’t involve wrangling hundreds of nerds into behaving. They can flame out in a glorious dramabomb, tearing themselves apart until the adults in the room leave and all that remains for them is the strong notion that anonymity is priceless.  More often they simply slow down until nobody cares anymore.

CQY was different.  The spirit of our foundation, to be a support group, the anti-guild guild, endured long after Andrew Pfister, known as Okonoko in the guild, had left.  He himself never did take that character all the way to level 60.  What he created, though, changed my life.  Even saved it.

During that same drunken saturday chat on our vent server, the guild leader and his wife made plans to host a number of friends from the guild in New York City.  Given the blood alcohol level of that conversation I doubted it would ever happen but one day I logged on and, holy shit, they were all getting together in Brooklyn.  I’d risen in stature quite a bit.  So much so that one of the earliest members, Garu, was now my roommate.  He was working an internship near where I lived, and I had a spare room.  Another member of the old guard was going to be driving up from North Carolina and picking him up to go to New York for the weekend.  My first feelings were of slight bitterness, after all, I was a member too, and my apartment was a stop on the way, there was no reason for me not to be invited.

Well, except for all that bad behavior.

I took a chance, and I asked if, seeing as my roommate was going anyway, I could tag along.  I was permitted on two conditions: One, I bring extra pillows and towels.  Two, I bring liquor.  Happily obliging, I took a leap of faith.  It wasn’t without risk, I was very wary of how I would be received.  The hosts themselves, were in fact wary as well.  It had all the makings of a disaster.  The party-crashing guy who no one really liked would ruin a really good vacation for a lot of people he wished he was friends with.  The closer we got to New York the more that fear ate at me.

When we arrived, late at night, blasting “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” (though that might have just been me, in my mind) the drinking had already begun, for the second night in a row.  Garu, Button, and myself arrived after most, who had been there the day before.  I remember hauling pillows and a bag up the stairs, presenting some liquor (note: at the time I tended to go for quantity of alcohol not quality of drink) which was immediately ignored and put by the dog food.

“Oh shit” I began to think, “This is it, any second now the damn guild leader is going to take me aside, tell me I need to get a cab and go home”.  I felt disaster.

Nervously, I stepped onto the patio where everyone was gathered, shyly introduced myself, and began to be awkward.  And then a funny thing happened.  Nobody cared.  I knew that at least a few people were worried in the back of their minds, but I stood mostly off to the side at first, trying not to get in the way of the party.  As time went by I joined in the conversation more and more.  I found myself jumping at chances to joke with everyone.  I was even a bit smitten with the human incarnation of the Draenei Priestess I would often joke around with in game.

We learned that my roommate’s tolerance for alcohol was practically nonexistent.  We learned that our raid leader was similar, and his state of inebriation could be calculated entirely by how many shirt buttons had come undone.  Through the night he went from fully-clothed, to shirt open, to one arm out, to struggling to free his other arm, to wearing his shirt as a sash, scarf, a babushka, and even a hijab.

At the end of a very long, very drunken, very funny night in which many, many things were learned by all, I was given a hug by a tree druid.

“I’m glad you came.”

The next morning I would observe as our fearless raid leader woke up, slowly walked to a computer, updated his facebook status with “I am never drinking again.  a man was not meant to ever feel this kind of pain” and crawl back to sleep.  He would awaken again to a much larger audience, shouting out “Fuckin’ Yogg with One Keeper!”  Another moment etched into my mind in the Halls of Goofy Shit.

We would later discover in the pictures of that night, him licking the ear of my roommate.  It was a weekend I didn’t want to end.  In fact, it wouldn’t have if my roommate didn’t have a stupid job.  I still say Button and I should have put him on a bus back to Washington, pin a note to his jacket telling my father to pick him up, and drive back later, ourselves.

The guild transmuted into something more then, more than the ideal that I respected from its beginnings, rather an extended family.  We were marching down the streets of Brooklyn with people calling me Magic Sword King, it was bizarre.  My digital persona had collided with my actual humanity in spectacular fashion.

I was allowed to keep my drunkenly-granted officer status.  I had many new people I could legitimately call friends.  Some of them had a falling out, which I consider a great tragedy.  I visited New York again, though I was the only one.  My roommate is now the roommate of the woman I consider the big sister I never had, and he has since taken over leadership of the guild.  Hell, I’m his second in command, even holding the reigns briefly, myself.

Of the people in New York only my former roommate and I remain members in full of Cant Quit You.  The guild has shifted westward in vitality, with new faces rising to prominence, the old guard still remembers, though.  We still watch, sometimes we play.  The ideals that founded the guild transformed it into something better.  Even though we’re long past the support group stage of existence we all remember, and in our own ways remain.

Cant Quit You became more than a jokey name, it became truth.  People come and go, but those of us who really took to it remain close friends to this day, attending conventions together, helping each other professionally and personally.  Even the people who no longer play haven’t left.  Not really.  Because you can’t quit.  The bonds formed since 2007 have been there to strengthen me, guide me, and even save my family from homelessness.

In absence I will cheer those who are active.  In activity I will help those who wish my help.  In life, I will keep these friends as long as the ways of the world allow me to keep them.  It didn’t have to be World of Warcraft to have such an effect.  It did, however, have to be CQY.

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The Epic Legends: The Beautiful Game – Part One

World of Warcraft.

I can say with certainty that nothing in the whole of media has affected my life as dramatically, as permanently, and as positively as World of Warcraft.  A game known for destroying lives. For turning intelligent, erudite individuals into annoying fuckwits who obsess over what numbers will interact in the best way to make their good numbers go up and their bad numbers go down.  For being, honestly, quite boring at times.

World of Warcraft is all of these things, and on its own I would never play it.

World of Warcraft is not on its own, however.  In January of 2007, a man named Andrew Pfister, then an editor for 1up.com, founded a guild.  The guild, Cant Quit You, began on the Baelgun server as the ultimate anti-guild.  The only rule, was that you were forbidden from joining if you’d ever reached level 60.  This was a support group, a group for quitters, people who never raided Molten Core with 39 other people, for people who didn’t know how to play, or always wanted to but for whom the social aspects never clicked to allow them to really enjoy themselves.  I was one of the earlier people to sign on.

I confess I’d always been a bit of an internet starfucker, hanging around IRC channels for webcomics I liked, with drama following me everywhere I went.  I wanted to rub elbows with an upper echelon that I aspired to join, and show them how awesome I was.  That changed with CQY.  It didn’t change all at once, though.  First, I met a living cautionary tale.  A man who has some degree of fame (or infamy) who was in a very overt way trying to do what I intended.  His name was Jonah Falcon, and he holds the odd distinction of having the biggest dick in the world.  This is something I learned on my first day with CQY.  At the time he was acting like a big dick, and trying to convince the founder to give him a job writing.  Somewhat appropriately I found out that the man with the biggest dick actually was the biggest dick.  I wasn’t established or around for his banishment, though.  It was rather elaborate, the entire guild faked a break-up just to fuck with him.  I decided they were my kind of people.

Over time I became more and more prominent, I solved some problems, created more, and spent the Burning Crusade expansion cycle being generally an asshole.  I was a whiny, needy, attention-whoring jackass, and extremely easily trolled.  This was always my greatest weakness, I would not abide the pricks and in defense of myself I’d take it to the rafters.  Later on I’d feel vindicated in knowing most of the people I called out for rampant shitfuckery would leave the guild or be thrown out once people reached the same conclusion.  I took my banishment with uncharacteristic grace and stayed away without scene.  A while later I’d revisit the forums, start participating again out of the game, and try to acknowledge the one thing about myself that I never really did before.

I’m kind of an asshole.  I’m not intolerable, and I have the capacity to be really nice, but I am still kind of an asshole.  So I’d become the guild’s asshole.  I’d turn my talents for stirring up shit into a force for good.  Using my advanced asshole sensor array (we can smell our own) I started to identify problematic people and slowly troll them out of the guild, or into behaving, whichever happened first.

When I did return, one member threw a shit fit the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’d always pegged him for the angry type, and oh boy did he live up to my expectations.  He quit the guild, posted on forums at length about how I was pure evil and pure evil cannot be changed only fought.  I think he may have even compared me to Hitler.  I responded in a rather nice way, though.  Instead of calling him out, suggesting severe anger management classes, like every asshole bone in my body wanted to, I let him act a fool and acknowledged that yes, I am an asshole, but I’m the asshole on your side, and goddamn if I won’t try to make up for how much of a shithead I’d been in the past.

After my return, more would change than some perceptions of me.  My life would take a new path, one that nobody saw coming.