Original date of blog: November 13th, 2015
This is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now, but it never felt like I had a complete story to tell, so to speak. Now, with things going to a new level, I feel that I do. At times, I’ll be repeating things I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, but I want to make it a complete picture, so I’m not skipping stuff. This started as me just wanting to write about the community and my place in it, but as I was writing it, I had to include ICE, my departure from loca and other things as well, so it’s gotten really long. It is my longest blog ever >.> It’s actually so long I’ve had to split it into two for the forum.
When I first started playing this game, because of my uncle, I wasn’t aware that there was a community, a forum, behind it. I knew nothing of beta testers and the likes. At most, I’d recognize some names of players I kept running into time and again, like Bobdeklootzak (whose name always cracked me up, because it means Bob the A-hole in Dutch, and I’d always greet him with ‘hey a-hole!’ ) and EnjoyTank. When Wargaming would post up a news item, I’d completely ignore it, would only click it to mark it as read. I wasn’t interested in that part of and behind the game at all.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had my share of online games and forums and I quit all of them at some point because of the amount of drama on there, which made the fun too hard to find. When something online, especially a game, stops being fun, or when the drama is physically starting to affect me, it’s time to move on. So, feeling like I should learn from my mistakes, I had no interest whatsoever in becoming a part of another gaming community, somehow ending up with a leading function, and leaving it all behind again because Drama (with a capital D).
Come August 2014, I already let that go a bit, because I hung out in the General Chat. I was hanging out there quite often in fact, when I wasn’t doing so well with tanking and wanted a break of sorts. I chatted a little bit, tried to get to know more about the moderators there (yes, there were actual moderators in the chat back in the day. No idea where they’ve gone now) – because that’s always a good thing in any community, as it lets you know your boundaries. There were a few people that were always there. Kr0suz, Snoopy (with some numbers), x_iskra_x, Pandaboy, and some others were people I met often, and chatted with, amongst all the spam and random gibberish in different languages.
It was there that I met M10114. At the time, he was the only other one talking decent, non-rude and non-spam English, and we chatted a bit in the chat and in pm and got along quite well. He asked me if I wanted to platoon, even though he was grinding a higher tier than I was. I was fine with that – even though I had no clue what it actually meant – and so my first platoon happened. It was a fail-platoon, though I didn’t know the term at the time. The reasoning behind it was that in higher tiers, you earn more xp, so it would let me upgrade my tanks faster. He let me hide behind him and everything. And together, it went a lot better than alone. He was a much better player than I was, and I was happy that he took the time to play with me at all.
We tooned almost every time we were both on. I started to like the game less when he wasn’t on. So, deciding to take my chances, I ventured into the General Chat again, this time to actually look for a platoon mate. That is how I met Xenodium. At the time, he was already good, but definitely not the unicorn he is now. The same goes for Juliean95, who I met not that much later. I started collecting a bigger amount of ‘friends’ in the game, people I would toon with, and I found out that some of them knew the other, like Filip and Juliean, who then proceeded to introduce me to more and more people.
Then came December. I had just started writing my blog for the first time (it was meant to be a single article for an online gaming website, but it just got longer and longer and I decided to make it into a weekly blog instead). Filip contacted me, asking me if I wanted to be in an iMessage group with him and Juliean so we could chat outside of the game and together, rather than one on one. I had to figure out what iMessage was to begin with, but I figured it would be fun, so agreed to it. Not that much later, they wanted to add Mikake (Mickey is so special) to the mix, and I in turn wanted M10114 (by then my wotb-husband) and Vitiator there too, the latter being someone who I’ve had the most interesting conversations with until deep in the night, always engaging my brain. Then Kjr023 was added and he had friends so the iMessage group suddenly had 30+ people, most of which we had no clue who they were.
The notifications, which you can never turn off fully, lagged people’s games so much that some people left again before long, but most stuck around. We knew we had to find a better medium for this group though. This is when we started joking around about becoming a clan rather than a group and Klaas and I threw ourselves forwards as leaders and started organising things together. We eventually settled onto an app called Palringo, and I build a forum. The original few people in iMessage have always stayed there though, and a very select few others have been added to it over time.
It was around this moment in time that I felt like I was just setting myself up for new drama, for the exact same mistakes that had brought me off of online gaming in the past. I promised myself that if the drama became too much, I would just quit, and would do so before things got too dramatic. Yeah.. like that works.. But kudos to me for positive thinking By wanting to organise things, and make sure that was done properly, I once again found myself in a leading position within a community, even though said community was just over 30 people instead of the over a hundred I had on forums in the past. So, it still felt rather small and secure and drama-free for me.
Then, one day, Klaas contacted Iskra after the latter had been rude again and all hell broke lose. Because Iskra decided to go public with that, the amount of drama was huge, and I seriously considered going off then and there, quit the game and everything. Klaas had never been the most diplomatic one, and that combined with his English gave people such a wrong idea of who we were and what we stood for, let alone of who he was himself. Because I considered him a friend at the time, I didn’t feel like I could just sit back and keep quiet while watching the ship sink.
I tried to keep the peace, to smooth things over, and to give people a better idea of what loca was, by posting on the WOTB EU-forum. It was my first public appearance in the WOTB community and I knew that there was no turning back then; I would have to read stuff and be active on that forum if I wanted to fix things. Loca’s image wasn’t helped when the responses were a little below the belt, and Klaas figured it was a good idea to escalate things further, letting me wonder why I was letting me do this to me again, but it did, eventually, calm down. And the reason that I stayed, aside from Klaas talking me into staying, was the fact that, even though people didn’t like loca or Klaas, they did understand and respect me for the effort I put into trying to make things right again. Thus, the drama, though directed at loca, wasn’t directed at me personally.
The next thing worth noting that happened was Klaas telling me he had formed an alliance with Polish Force. I had no clue who they were, what they were like or even who was in it, and wasn’t all that grateful because he decided to make such a major decision without even including me in it. Of course, he said that if I didn’t want it, he could cancel it, but let’s be frank; if I did that, we’d have made a new enemy and we had plenty of those as it was, with Iskra badmouthing us as much as he did. Not to mention that it would be put on me. So I felt I had no choice but to go along with it.
We had an event with them – my very first event – and it was a lot of fun, we had a great evening. More events like that had been happening by then between other clans, though we (we being loca and PF) didn’t post anything up on the WOTB forum about it. I wrote a children’s story of sorts to announce the alliance, mostly because I wanted to show loca took practically nothing seriously. Writing it cracked me up to no end. The reactions to it not so much. But I wasn’t going to make excuses for that. It was my own creative work and I would stand by it, childish or no, and if it made one person other than myself laugh, that’s good enough for me.
Then, I got a pm on the WOTB forum from a player named Back2black_. This, when I look back at it, was the game-changer (he’s very good at doing that). The message was incredibly sweet and polite and rather shy, in a way. He spoke about prejudices and all and how he had noticed how I had been trying to fix things, and that he and the Legion would like to have an event with us to better the relationship between loca and the Legion. We exchanged Skype-details in order to talk things over more easily. And talk we did. A lot. About anything and everything, though mostly game- or clan-related.
The first such event loca had with the Legion was a complete disaster. Both clans expected different things and though we had fun, it didn’t give any of us the good feeling I had had after our event with PF. This worried me for the future, because I didn’t know what kind of effect this would have on loca’s delicate friendship with the Legion, or my friendship with Dimi. But I worried for nothing – they (he) were (was) happy enough to give it another try. Aside from the event, he and I talked about how we could improve loca’s reputation and better the relationship between clans. That’s when I came up with something I called Inter-Clan Events (aka ICE).
I was fully aware that that would never work if I made it a loca-only initiative. The community and other clans would rebel against it purely because it came from loca. Dimi understood that too, and since we talked about it together and worked out the details together, we decided to make it into a loca-Legion project. Legion had the social standing loca was lacking at the time, and were friends with several of the clans I counted as loca’s enemies, whereas loca had the players and the most professional set-up when it came to teamspeak, site, forum, etc. So, including Klaas, Dimi and Tomas in the recipients of the messages, I pm’d the leaders of all the clans that were known at that moment in time, one pm-conversation per clan, explaining my idea for ICE and why I/we thought it was a good idea.
It took a bit before replies came in, but most were positive. By the time I posted up a public topic about it for everyone to read and reply to, I had a nice list of participating clans already. I had had no reply from Vanguard and Valiant, but I really had expected no different at the time. They were the two clans that opposed loca most. I think one of the things that helped things greatly was the fact that me setting up ICE coincided with Iskra going missing in action. So after I posted up the topic in public, Thorombar contacted me on behalf of Valiant and said they were in. This surprised me to no end, but it was a very pleasant surprise, and I took the opportunity to get to know him and Ak1r4 better. That hurdle having been taken, Vanguard joined in as well. Ironically, it was the clan that loca supposedly had an alliance with that was the only one to simply say ‘no’ – which was really the beginning of the end of that alliance.
Though, that’s not exactly true. I had had my doubts about that alliance for a while, since whenever I contacted any of the leaders, I’d get zero reaction, then, when I asked for one, I’d get a snippy comment back. That does not make for a healthy relationship, and as we all know, women remember everything. It certainly didn’t breed any goodwill… After a crisis in PF, two of their members joined us, one of which had been having a sort of double membership by being in both clans, and we had two others like that still. But after a while, they went back to PF but wanted to stay in loca too. That meant that three of PF’s four leaders would be in both clans and though I wouldn’t mind it for some members, leaders is a different story (spiesssss). So, I told them that I was ending the double membership thing. They in turn then ended the alliance itself, so that was the end of that.
In the meantime, we had our first ICE. It was massive, it was awesome, it was incredibly fun. It was everything I had hoped for, really. It was good to hear the voices of the people I had been meeting in battle, had had contact with as clan leader and everything. It was a whole new chapter in the game for me, and I was ever so happy that I had made it clear from the start that it wouldn’t be a one time thing, but a monthly thing. Of course we had things that would need fixing before the next one, things to find solutions for, but people understood that, and ICE1 was just a great success.
I think that overall, it really did help loca’s image a lot, combined with me hammering on the fact that they all show proper manners when meeting other people in game by making the Tankiquette a part of loca’s rules. I’ve always been big on manners. I can’t stand rude people, especially not when people don’t deserve it. The idea of calling someone a noob because he ammoracks you is just plain stupid. That’s skill, or luck, and I usually congratulate the player that manages to do it. And as noob as people can be in the game – what is the use of telling them that? What does it add, other than a bad atmosphere? Don’t get me wrong, I can rage in ts just like everyone else, but I don’t make them feel bad about not knowing how to tank. Except maybe for campers sometimes, if they’re particularly bad. There were, of course, some members that couldn’t help themselves and were rude either way, but after telling them off and threatening to kick them out, they did actively try to better it. TheBoss92_sniper for instance, may have never stopped calling people noobs, but he stopped threatening families, cussing about mothers and their profession, and wishing people dead. Imo, that’s progress, if not perfect.
Either way, loca was slowly becoming a respected clan rather than a despised one. Inside the clan I was making people feel proud of their accomplishments, made sure they felt appreciated and cared for, gave them someone to talk to about anything and everything, basically just motherhenning them a lot. It felt like a real family, despite the clan growing pretty quickly. The latter concerned members though, and we upped the requirements for joining several times to make that harder (even to only have that be complained about instead, lol). I think this is where things started to wrong, to be honest. By motherhenning and nurturing them as much as I did, while not being a unicorn, I never earned their respect as a leader nor as a player.
I worked hard on and for the clan, stuck my nose into everything both inside the clan and outside of it, to continue to improve that image and put loca on the map. I joined Vanguard’s forum, and Valiant’s, and the Legion’s, and I hung out with people from those clans, to get to know them better. This had pro’s and con’s. I loved getting to know them, but though I still motherhenned in the clan chat, it gave me the distinct feeling I was neglecting my own clan – but they didn’t seem to care much, as long as I still did everything required to run the clan and put it out there. And that cut me, because it made me feel less than appreciated. Or maybe they just didn’t like my general attitude towards the clan (aka the motherhenning) to begin with, I don’t know.
Similarly to this, things were moving in the Legion. Like loca, the Legion had two leaders. But where Klaas had officially named me -the- leader and himself -a- leader because I was the one doing everything, the Legion had one leader, and one ‘sub-commander’ that did everything, but who was never offered an equal rank for his work. The core-group of the Legion was less than pleased by the way the leader ran the Legion and the way they were treated. That is to say, they respected and liked Dimi and the way he handled things a lot. The other side, not so much. The dual leadership didn’t work for them, and the differences with which the Legion was led didn’t sit well with them.
So when they decided to leave the Legion to form their own clan, they asked Dimi to come with them and lead whatever clan they made. I found that admirable, and in a way the most flattering compliment Dimi could have gotten for his hard work. Most of the time, it’s the one with a leading function that leaves and asks people to go with them, not the other way around. The dual leadership and lack of equality had been bothering Dimi as well, and the problems weren’t fixed even though he tried to do so several times. Though he didn’t like the potential consequences his leaving would have on the Legion, the core-group, with most of his friends, was leaving either way, so he went with them. Thus, Phoenix was born.
I more or less moved in with them. While that was happening, the process of becoming unhappy within loca had already begun. The problem with doing everything in a clan and supporting everyone in all manners of things is that they come to expect you to do so always, and that you’ll do more, too, and I had less and less to give. Not to mention the fact that where I saw the level of interest I took in the people in it as a good thing, that might really have not been the case for them. Either way, Phoenix became my home away from home. I had had so much fun with these guys while they were still Legion, and I didn’t want to lose that. Being invited onto their forum and ts and everything meant a lot to me. And while loca was pushing me away, Phoenix was inviting me with open arms to hang out with them. As you may have seen, our ts is really quite random and chaotic. My channel is now called the ex-spy channel. Emil has one in there too. At the time it was made though, it was the spyyyyy-channel, and it was just for me. It felt like being offered a permanent couch to crash on whenever I needed it.
And boy, did I crash there often. At first just for fun, because their ts was always busy and crowded, and they were always in for a laugh. In a way, it felt like every night was ICE. As things started to fall apart for me in loca, Phoenix was there to pick me up in all manners of the term. I’m not going into all the details here – this blog is going to be a long read to begin with, and I blogged about it in detail before. But I gave too much, and took too much of it personally. That’s the bit that’s always gone wrong, really. I don’t hold back. I give myself 100%. In my eyes, whatever I’m doing or leading deserves no less. I don’t like doing things halfway. But as such, I really just set myself up to get hurt, because I take it all personally too, I let it affect me.
And on the internet, people often say things without thinking it through, and without thinking of what the effects could be of their words and actions. It’s because they deem themselves safe and out of reach behind their screens, so feel they can say whatever they want. There really isn’t a general etiquette for the internet. Least of all for games. People just say whatever comes to mind. For this reason, I wrote the Tankiquette. Though I’m pretty sure most people don’t follow it, I hope it has -some- effect on people, at least on the behaviour between clans, and it makes me feel good that I’m at least trying to breed a positive atmosphere. And though I know bad words are still used, I’m happy enough that most people at least don’t cuss at other people while I am present. Those that use words like that too much, I simply no longer platoon with.
By the time ICE3 came around, I was pretty much miserable within my own clan. I’ve always hated acting like nothing’s the matter when that’s really not the case. It makes me feel utterly dishonest. So most of the time, I just vanish instead, until I feel a little better again. But considering that I’m the one that organises ICE, vanishing (and thus not participating) wasn’t really an option. So I put on my best fake smile and did it anyway. And though I hated pretending it was all roses and sunshine, that did serve to remind me that I do adore ICE and everything that comes with it. I adore the fact that so many clans get together to play around. Whether the players attending like each other or not, they respect each other, because if they don’t, they just die first. In my opinion, ICE has made the clans more into a community. Yes, on the battlefield, we’re all enemies, but when we’re on the same time, we’re friends as well and work together. We know each other in the game, we greet each other when we meet. It’s a healthy competition, rather than the toxic, mud-throwing competition it could be otherwise (and really just is between some clans).
But as much as I liked ICE, realising that actually just turned me into more knots – because if I quit the game, I’d lose that too. And not just me, the community would lose it too. I felt responsible. And just like with my leadership of loca, I felt like I couldn’t just leave it behind, because of the possible consequences my departure would have on it. I felt stuck. But in the end, I did leave the clan, and managed to keep ICE. That’s another thing I owe Phoenix, and another reason why the clan I’m in now feels so much like home. Of course we have our own difficulties and disagreements too, but in the end, we’ve got each others back and simply put; people care.
I’ve actually been re-reading the conversations I’ve had just before and after I left loca, because of writing this humongous blog. And I’ve managed to thoroughly depress myself doing it too, just by reading how exactly I felt back then, and by reading some of the reactions to my doing so. Now, I have to admit that it makes me feel a mixture of sad, angry and bitter. But reading all of that has really just strengthened my conviction that it was the right choice for me. Loca and I never would have worked out together. It would have gone to hell one way or another, and at least now, it’s ended before it killed the game for me. At the same time, it makes me feel stupid for believing that it could have worked out. And for continuously trying to receive something that I would have never gotten from loca – the appreciation and respect that I craved, and people taking an interest in what I did. I don’t mean that as in “NOTICE ME PLZ” by the way, as I hate that, but I mean taking an interest as in reading the things I wrote that were relevant to the clan and its direction (not my blog, to be sure), interest as in keeping up with what was happening within the clan, and why said things were happening.
Another thing I’ve noticed while re-reading all those conversations, once more, is the amazing responses from other clans. It’s taken me some time to realise that the respect given to me by the community, by the ICE-clans and their members, is respect that I have earned. I didn’t get it for being in loca. I didn’t get it because I was the leader of loca. I got it, because I worked hard for it, made an effort, and, apparently, did good. And that makes me feel quite proud of myself, to be perfectly honest. That’s the fruits of my labour, the fruits I had been searching for.
Since leaving loca and joining Phoenix, more things have been changing. I feel like I have a better connection with the ICE-clans now, probably also because of the realisation that the respect is mine and not loca’s. It’s made me more confident. Until my holiday in October, I’ve been more active on the forums of the other clans, though I’m pretty behind on that right now. I’ve chatted in game with loads of people, tooned with people from new clans, old clans, everyone.
Because that’s another big change in the game for me. Since joining Phoenix, I’ve been doing so well in the game as well. I’ve gotten quite good. And I think that’s also because I feel more comfortable and confident. I don’t feel like I have to proof myself anymore. I’m home, and my family supports me whatever I do, so to speak. I still have noob-nights, of course, and according to Nutty I’ve developed this nasty habit of going Rambo in my E100 (yes, I haz it. Next blog will be about that line) and leaving him to die alone. That’s one thing I really do need to work on (either getting good at going Rambo, or learn how not to do it again. I’m not quite sure which to go for), but who doesn’t like hearing Nutty rage on ts?
I’ve also become more active in the Fanzone community and am actually the English Staff-Lead there now. Which currently mostly means that I use my German skills taught to me by Rammstein for the most part, and Google translate to translate German articles into English, and to proofread what English articles or announcements they made. That sounds boring, but I actually love doing that kind of stuff. You can learn a lot by translating – both from the article because you read it in detail, and from the language itself. My German, at least my reading skills in it, have gotten quite a bit better since I started doing that, remembering everything from many years ago. Mind you, still can’t write it, but still!
Aside from that, I’m admin on one of the Facebook pages now (the most fun one, imo, at that) and I’m in a few chats here and there of other clans and the likes to mingle with them too. It’s good fun overall, and I find that in the end, despite all my own warnings at my own address, and knowing that one day, it will all go to hell either way, the community part is almost equally important to the game itself. I adore the game, the blowing up of stuff, especially now that I’m getting better and feel more confident at doing it, but tooning makes it all that much more fun, and that, to me, is already the beginning of the community. I’m pretty sure that if I wasn’t so actively involved with the community and the other clans, I would have quit this game a long time ago. I would have become bored.
In the meantime, ICE has evolved to a new level. Back when I started organising it, I had to go to clan-leaders and ask them whether or not they’d like to participate, and remind them often when the next one is and everything. That’s still partly like that, of course, but more often than now, I’m asked when the next one is and what time they should be there, etcetera. But aside from the clans liking to take part in it, and wanting to join in again, there’s been a much bigger change. This month, tomorrow, in fact, we have four new clans participating, making the total of participating clans twentyseven. I didn’t got ask these new clans to join in, I might add. No, these clans responded to the ICE topic on the Blitz forum, and asked if they could participate.
That may not seem like much, but that’s -huge-. At least, it is to me. Because it means people talk about ICE, and that the word is spreading. It means people are interested and intrigued. And that makes me so happy to be the one behind it all. I’m happy that people like it, that it’s going so well. Tomorrow, in fact, isn’t just an ICE. It’s ICE6. That’s means that it’s been happening for half a year now. That’s a big thing too. I’ve been asked whether or not I’d like to involve Wargaming, have them give a prize or something of the sort for a competition during ICE, but in all honesty, I don’t want that. ICE, as it is now, is completely independant. If I involved Wargaming, I would likely have to change things, edit the way it’s run or works, and censure my/our opinion on Wargaming. And I really don’t want to do that.
It’s the same reason I don’t host this blog on Wargaming’s forum. I want to be able to say whatever I want. It also helps that this way, this blog isn’t in anyone’s face, but can more easily be chosen to read. And those that read it are people that know me in the game, not just random people that come by and have no clue (#noobatblogreading). And though I’d secretly love to be a community contributor on the forum and have that special title and receive the special perks that come with it, it also means I’d be monitored more closely, and wouldn’t be allowed to say bad stuff (in public) about Wargaming anymore. I’m not too sure that’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make for that, as it’s a high price to pay.
I’d like to end this blog back at where it started. My uncle made me start to play this game. We nearly have the same amount of battles now, but there’s over 21% difference of winrate between him and me. I’m fairly sure that’s why I never hear from him again (competitive family… ). I started with having no intention whatsoever to join the community at all. I’ve ended up being one of the most active people in the community. Not sure if that is admirable, or just a disaster waiting to happen. There’s no telling. But I have good people around me, and I have made friends for life in this game all the same. Whatever comes, it will be okay, and I am grateful for all the experiences, the fun, the friends, this game has given me.