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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On Friends, Cliques, and Politics

John here again. Unfortunately it's time for another "serious" post. I can't let Noah do this one (as much as I don't want to) because he hasn't been exposed for quite as long as I have and he has a wonderful ability to fly off on lengthy tangents.  I say I don't want to do this, and I really don't, because some of this is hard to say. Nothing stated in this post is meant to target one group or player, because I can think of at least 2 instances of each item mentioned.  Nothing's happened in the community, this is just a compilation of things that I've been noticing more and more in my time in the Spiral OUTSIDE of the Spiral. I've been blogging (off and on, admittedly) for a little over a year now. I've been playing the game for over 2. I'm far from an authority on the subject of friends, I've made my fair share of mistakes, but I'd like to take some time and point out what I've observed.

Friends in the Spiral often become more than just a mass of pixels that you talk to. Over time, you grow attached to the person behind the wizard and eventually you've bonded in a way much deeper than you ever intended. That's great! Sometimes those relationships bloom even further, sometimes you deem one another best friends and can't seem to be without them. Just because you met online doesn't mean you aren't "real friends". And sometimes these friends can hurt you just as badly as a friend you have met face to face. And you work it out just the same. The rules of friendship don't change just because the medium of expression has.

When people become fantastic friends, cliques form. Cliques, while being of common interests, often cause those not in the clique to feel left out. This adds even further to the feeling that some players are "famous" rather than the "just-average" person that they are because the "famous" players are often all of the same clique. I had a really stupid idea when I hosted the All-Star Meet & Greet when I thought that roping off a select few would do any good.  The party was meant to show that those "famous" few are really just average players like the rest of us, but it didn't go over as intended.  I learned that lesson the hard way.  It's really no wonder that people want "fame" to feel included. Does that make it right? Not at all. The Spiral needs diversity, not the same group of players operating everything.

Other times an entire clique (or someone that had hidden their true colors very well) will reject a single person because of an opposing viewpoint, leading to hate messages through Skype, Twitter, or blog posts publicly bashing others. Cyber-bullying is real, and it's cropping up more and more often in the Spiral. Many who practice it don't even realize (or make claims that they don't realize or intend) that what they're saying (or the way in which it is delivered) cut people deeply. That kind of behavior makes the Spiral a very nasty place to hang out sometimes.  Is exclusion what we want in the Spiral? Wizard101 may be "just a game", but the people are real. If it's a game, isn't it meant to be an escape from the problems of reality?

Finally, politics in the Spiral have a tendency to drive off players. When things get hot, they get out of the kitchen entirely, and we lose valuable insight into the game.  Sometimes a dispute will make players feel like they have no place if they can't share their thoughts, no matter what the opinion on the matter is. Sometimes not saying something just the right way or passing over small details leads to some very problematic situations. All of the fighting and arguing that goes on publicly these days would drive me off if I was new and just trying to get a foothold somewhere.  The level of dominance and command that some players (fansites) exert on others is ridiculous, and the amount of groupthink going on in certain portions of the community inhibit growth of the whole.

These are just some general observations based on appearances. I realize this post will probably go over like a lead balloon, but I'm saying my piece for all to see.There's usually more than meets the eye, and if anyone would like to share thoughts/views the comment box is always welcoming of new ideas. On this post especially, though, moderation will be enforced much more critically than usual. Keep it clean, and keep it unspecific.

Your Friend Always,
John Lifeglen


  1. I agree with you on this. And also, I read a post, cant remember where, about how those who are 'famous' don't always want the attention they get.

  2. I wrote a few weeks ago about fame being a four-letter word. Some people in the Wizard101 community really want to be "famous" and some people truly do just want to have fun, meet people, and enjoy the game. My bet is that the players who are positive, easy-going, and don't take themselves too seriously not only have the most fun but are also the most fun to be around.