Cycles

Something in the Water

Yesterday the very amazing Aywren posted a bit on her blog to serve as a bit of inspiration and support for bloggers out there, and a bit of it was directed at me.  There is something going on and it is bigger than me or this blog, but seemingly effecting a lot of other bloggers out there.  Its like this growing dissatisfaction with whatever we have been doing, and trying to find a way to tweak and change it to make our lives better.  IronWeakness for example has been frustrated lately with the lack of attention to his family and faith, and as a result is quitting cold turkey.  Liore has reached a point where she just doesn’t really want to write about games because of a lot of reasons… not the least of which is how toxic gaming has become.  As far as me, I have written about my frustrating inability to get into MMOs lately.  I guess the thing is… this feels different from your average lack of creativity.  I can sit down at the keyboard and summon a post at will every single day and I have done so for the last three years.  More than anything I have started to question why and if I actually want to do it.

In part I have felt this massive amount of pressure to keep moving the ball forward.  It is like I have all of the plates spinning in the air and I am desperately trying to make sure that none of them stop and come crashing to the ground.  The past year has not been amazingly well for me when it came to gaming, and more importantly writing about gaming.  I made an attempt to do the whole writing for a paycheck thing when it came to MMOGames.com.  The problem is… turning it into a job… no matter how sporadic and supplemental it was… drained all of the fun out of the experience for me.  Similarly I used to love to write code on the weekends… until I became a programmer for a living…  and now the last thing I want to see once I exit work is code of any form.  This was only compounded by Blaugust which took a significant toll on me, and my ability to enjoy reading blog posts.  During that month, the insane number of people we had signed up… meant that every morning I was getting up and religiously checking this long list of post and tabulating data in a spreadsheet.  Nothing drains the fun out of anything like a spreadsheet.

Backing Away

So I have slowly backed away from MMOGames and the thought of taking any assignments there, thinking that distance would make the enjoyment come back.  I also took a long break from reading blogs, because I thought with time the desire to read them would come back.  In both cases things regenerated over time, but I feel like a part of me died in both cases that can never come back.  Right now I just feel somehow out of phase with the world.  There are days when I am mostly okay, and can hold normal conversations… but the rest of the time it feels like everything is washing over me in a manner that is just impossible to grasp.  There are so many times I contemplate interacting, but it is so damned hard to take that first step.  Most of the time I am this bundle of anxiety and awkwardness that I am trying desperately to make seem normal.  The worst is that I have turtled for a very long time… and what I mean by that is that I have this tendency to tuck my head into my shell and just stop interacting other than when forced to do so.  In part I think a lot of the games I have been playing like Diablo 3 or Destiny… I am doing so because I can play them in a completely solo way with brief intermissions of group activity.

I am not sure exactly when I stopped logging into voice chat on a nightly basis, but this has caused this wall of stress surrounding my interacting with the folks I podcast with each week.  I still love them and feel the same way about them… but I struggle to interact with them outside of our weekly recording session.  I can handle one or two people at a time… but the possibility of logging in to a whole room of people… no matter how familiar I am with them just makes me want to run screaming.  Always in the past I have come out of one of these periods within a month or so… but this one feels like it has lasted the better part of this year and might have started last year.  I know that I need to force myself to interact… but all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and forget the world exists.  It is really hard to be any form of myself when I am like this… because I am known as being this gregarious sort that is kind and happy to see new people.  There are just times when I can’t be that version of myself, and I am not sure how to knock myself free of this current slump.

Expectations

I guess I felt like I needed to be open about these struggles I am dealing with, because maybe it explains a bit why I am the way I am sometimes.  All of this is in part why I have seriously contemplated just hanging up my spurs and stopping the blog for awhile.  The truth is though… that I don’t really want to.  I’ve built this dialog between you the readers and myself… and I enjoy it.  I can rattle off a post and it is blissfully one sided.  Sure folks comment, but I can deal with responding to those as I am ready.  I don’t have to be prepared to have a bidirectional exchange immediately… I can sit down write what I feel like writing and then walk away feeling like I have gotten whatever it was out of my system.  The only problem there is this giant looming pressure that I need to post something every day.  I think the whole daily thing has been good for me as a whole, but now it just serves as this point of failure that is waiting to happen.  I know at some point I will not write a post, and the streak will be over… and it honestly scares me a little bit.  Part of me is wondering if I should just plan to have an outage and get it over with to remove a chunk of the pressure.

The truth is my readership on the weekend has always been limited, so I have been kicking around the notion of posting weekdays, but then making the weekends optional.  I know coming up for Memorial Day weekend I will be out of town… so that might be the moment I just let the ball drop.  My blog can survive without three days worth of posts, or at least I keep telling myself that.  Part of me is afraid that if I stop the pattern, I will fall back into my old habits of being the least reliable blogger out there.  I would love to be able to say that I would only blog when I have something really important to say… but then that barrier of what is important versus not important would throw me into paralysis.  As it stands… I think at the end of this month I will be taking a break, and hoping that this lull with no gaming and no blogging will help to repair whatever schism has formed inside of me.  I don’t really want to quit blogging, but I feel like I need to at least take a break, and a planned break is better than just getting up one day and being unable to do it anymore.  So anyways… that has been what is going around in my head and I hope now that I got it all out on paper… it makes a little more sense.

Thanks as always for being there and reading.

 

13 thoughts on “Cycles

  1. I’m pretty sure I’ve taken up the mantle of least reliable blogger. And no, you can’t have it back. It keeps me warm.

  2. The problem with a streak is that breaking it becomes the be all and all. What it’s a streak of ceases to matter.

    Something like fifteen months ago I accidentally gave up drinking. I had no intention of doing it, I didn’t have a “drink problem”, although I certainly drank more than a doctor would recommend, and there was no reason for me to stop enjoying a few glasses of red wine four or five nights a week.

    All that happened was that I got a bad cold and I never drink when I’m ill so I stopped. The cold hung on for a week or so and by the time it went I was out of the habit of drinking. That streak was broken. Taking its place, however, was the streak of not drinking. I kept thinking of having a drink but the idea of extending my streak was more attractive than the thought of having a drink so I didn’t.

    That lasted until I went away on holiday about four months later. At that point I had to decide whether to break my streak and enjoy evenings in cafes and restaurants as I usually would or whether the streak was more important. I chose to start drinking again and it was very enjoyable. Then as soon as I got back I stopped. Again, no reason, other than I’d kind of put parentheses around the “holiday drinking” and made it not count towards braking the streak.

    Since then I have only had a drink when I have gone away on holiday. I haven’t had a drink in my own country since February 2015. The point to that story, if I have one, is that keeping a streak going is not in itself good or bad. It depends what its a streak of. My not drinking is a net positive for my health so there’s no reason to break that streak, but imagine if it had been the other way around and I’d not gone a single day for fifteen months without having a drink. That would have been a very bad streak indeed.

    Blogging every day is unlikely to be doing you any harm in and of itself but then blogging every day just because you have blogged every day for the last three years is unlikely to be doing you any good, either. I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do because that would be ridiculous . YOU can tell you what you should do though. And you should. And if you don’t like what you’ve done when you’ve done it you should do something else. Don’t carry on doing something just because to stop would break your streak.

    Darn! Now I have told you what to do after all!

    Oh, and my page views drop like a stone at the weekends too and yet weekends are when I most consistently post because that’s when I have most time. People catch up with those posts later, if they’re interested at all. If you miss days people will still read what you post when you post it. You aren’t running a news site after all.

  3. All I can offer is a short-story. I think I’ve felt those pangs before; maybe, 1-2 years ago. It’s hard to tell. That feeling sort of creeps up on you and you push through it for a long time – fighting it or “switching gears”.

    I thought about when I used to read incessantly. 1-2 books a week is what I call incessant. I “used to” read. I miss reading. I do. I have very little time now. I haven’t read a book in maybe 3 years now — which literally feels damning and sacrilegious to me. That’s how I built up the act of reading for myself, in my mind. And reading is very important and wonderful for many things; keeping a sharp mind, relaxing, learning, etc…

    In 2007 when I started writing alongside Beau, for Massively.com I quickly started to see a lot of psychological and behavioral patterns in MMO players. One of which was the raid-mentality (I have a friend who was stuck deeply in this mode of thought — and it’s not a gaming behavior or gaming preference, it’s very-much a psychological mode of molded perspective the same as if a person was in a niche pseudo-religion or convinced themselves that death is a sensible alternative to eating cheese)

    This mode was where players would wake up, grind 10,000 badges or whatever, switch alts, make raid nights and then go to bed. It’s also the main pool of people that later become the ones lamenting years later how they look back and realize “playing MMOs was the biggest waste of my life ever — I wish I never did it”

    In both instances: the mode of thought is STILL a skewed perspective, even if they quit playing. For instance: Playing MMOs is NOT a terrible thing. It’s not. It isn’t any more terrible than watching the Walking Dead on TV every week.

    Before the feelings of guilt, it’s still the same perspective or mode of thought — yeah, I’m serious. Nothing changes here in my story using these examples. Before, people are high and have tunnel-vision with this insatiable need to play MMOs the way many play them — like a job. Yes, they are going to say all sorts of things — MMOs helped me budget my time, accomplish goals, work as a team and so on. All are true. But guess what? All also don’t counter-act what I said earlier. Yes the bad can live happily alongside the good.

    So, back to years later when some players feel guilt for “wasting their lives”. They become those players — and attract other converts along the way, that lament all the time they spent playing — but they weren’t really “just playing” were they? And they didn’t know it then and still don’t know it after they quit. But they see only what they see and attribute their addiction to playing so much to their newfound feelings of guilt — which is in a small way accurate, but missing the bigger picture.

    I played Runes of Magic hardcore for 3 years. I never raided, never got addicted to grind, never felt like it was a job, never felt obligated, but did start playing more and more. And some of those feelings of guilt started to pay me a visit, but it was somehow clear in my vision and mind and easy for me to see and take stock of and start researching real, medical addictions and what feeds them.

    So, yeah, there was a little bit of me starting to feel guilty — feeling like I missed out on many beautiful sunsets and visits with family — but you know what? Perspective is a helluva drug.

    I cannot explain things for other people. I don’t live their lives. I don’t know the myriad of nuances and happenings that go on thousands of times a day for them.

    But big, general patterns can be sourced and learned — it’s how a lot of medical, engineering, teaching and other fields advance the field and further research and learn about what makes us and the world tick.

    It’s strangely very easy to start thinking death is a sensible alternative to eating cheese. It’s easy to start playing a game for years, re-evaluate things, hate yourself and then denounce what you’re doing to avail yourself of the guilt — all that may or may not was created in our own heads to begin with. It’s easy to start over thinking in some areas of Humanity. Thinking is good, yes. But there are times and places where it serves less or little purpose. We don’t think about walking, right? We don’t try to slow our minds to analyze and think of why we are going to decide to help a lady carry her groceries to the car — while we are in the act of starting to help her carry her groceries — We just DO those things.

    I try to stop thinking about it. Instead, I play a game, watch TV. And then I might suddenly stand up, walk across the street and say “What’s up, Mom?” and give her a hug and then come back and play more video games. There are actually some things that one can overthink and suddenly you start thinking death is a sensible alternative to eating cheese, and you keep thinking it and pretty soon you have no way to think otherwise and you simply cannot think or comprehend any other way.

    But back to what I was doing. I did quit playing MMOs, just like I quit reading. I kind of miss it, but I consciously decided to look into indie and after I scraped just a little past the surface, I found a new “TV show” that I am in love with. I love the world(s) of indie gaming and development. It has blossomed into a new life for me.

    Dang. I should write a book. “Death Is Not A Sensible Alternative To Eating Cheese” – look for it — maybe never.
    Jeremy Stratton recently posted..GG Podcast S9 E13: “The 2D Evolution”My Profile

  4. It happens. I’ve let my own blog lie dormant for a while, particularly when I’ve thrown myself into some new work. In particular, I think MMOs are in a lull right now, with the Western market just not doing particularly well and nothing on the horizon really looking like a big event that will bring the community together.

    Some could argue the MMO blogging community used to be bigger, more active, more vibrant in the past. But, as you point out, there are is still a community out there that reads and comments on blogs. And, this community is what keeps some of us going.

    Anyway, I do like reading your posts, even if I sometimes get too busy to post. Keep the faith, and I think eventually MMOs will come back around and be exciting again. I don’t know how long that will take, though. However, if you keep posting on your blog then you’ll be able to prove you were a serious fan back before it became fashionable (again). 😉
    Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green recently posted..Why it’s not all semantics because game design mattersMy Profile

  5. I’m sorry if it felt in any way that I was pointing at you with my post, but if the writing spoke to you and helped you come to terms with anything you’ve been feeling, I’m glad to have helped. I’m always amazed at how honest you are with these posts, and I have to say that I’m right there with you — I identify with a lot of the feelings you described.

    You’re not alone.

    I’ve learned my own personal limits when interacting with people online (especially in voice chat). I’ve learned to communicate to them: “I’m still your friend. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m super introverted and I don’t always function comfortably in a group larger than three or four.”

    Thankfully, I have close friends who mostly understand that and know that when I feel I need to take a break, they don’t take it personally. It’s taken time and communication to build that trust and knowledge. I’m not always an easy person to understand and get along with! 🙂

    You’re an awesome person, a fantastic blogger and a great friend to many. I speak for myself (but perhaps echo others) when I say that I want you to do what’s healthy for yourself so that you can do it all with love and passion. Setting a new schedule so that you can balance the feel of having structure, but not forcing it every day is a good thing.

    I try to post most weekdays myself, and leave my weekends free. But there’s some weekends (like this one) when I do something exciting and I throw in a few extra posts. It’s rewarding to feel you’ve done “bonus blogging” rather than punishing yourself for not doing enough.

    No matter what you choose, I’m in support of it! You’re the only one who knows how you feel, and it’s up to you to take care of yourself. Please do! <3
    Aywren recently posted..Completed: LoZ: A Link Between Worlds!My Profile

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