Blogging

Raiding Saved My Life

Leading image is credited to CerezaMura from Sargatanas. This was my raid team prior to stopping FFXIV yet again last year.

With the release of World of Warcraft Classic (WoWC), I was inspired to write this article. Consider this part assertion of what I am/do, part informative/entertaining article and a bit of an apology. Also note, I won’t play WoWC, as I already have too much on my plate, as well as that I have the firm belief that I only have time for one subscription-based game at the moment. All I have to say is that if I do decide to pick up this game and play Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) at the same time, just say goodbye to most of my content creation.

One of the reasons why I started Gamers on FIRE was to make a career out of video games. That could fall into the stream of content creation (IE: videos, streaming, etc.), making games, or even being a community manager/public relations for a game I really enjoyed playing! I wasn’t sure how to make it, but I figured this would be a good stepping stone for that goal.

Did you know that I started streaming because of raiding? Let me tell you more.

Getting into Raiding

For those of you not familiar with the concept of raiding, it is endgame content in MMORPGs. This usually involves an instance where players have to kill this really big bad boss for loot, usually high-end gear or fancy titles and achievements. This is very prominent in games like WoWC and FFXIV. It involves high Damage Per Second (DPS) checks, mechanical jump rope and a good understanding of your class’ fundamentals. If a player messes up on their damage rotation, they can essentially screw the whole raid over just because the whole party doesn’t even meet damage requirements. It can kill all of the players involved, whether that be 8-man content or 24-man content (although more players could mean more leniency, but I have never played WoW, so don’t take my word for it). If a tank doesn’t understand how boss aggression (or aggro for short) works, he could have the boss hit the entire party because the boss decided to turn around and smack the person doing the most damage (and thus making said boss angry). If someone did not perform a mechanic, not only will it kill them, it will cause complications for the party later on.

With all of this in mind, I started recording my raid sessions so that I could start improving as a player. I couldn’t figure out a good way of keeping a recording but I found out that if I streamed to Twitch, it would save the replay for me and I could download it later for my own analysis. In fact, you can find one such recording here! (Will that mean I’ll use my YouTube channel more? Maybe! Stay tuned!) This concept wasn’t new to me; I recorded my own demos back when I was a competitive player for Team
Fortress 2
. I soon realized I could just stream for (mostly my own) entertainment, so I just started doing that. That was fun. Eventually, work and school got in the way so I had to stop any form of competitive play and cut back on a lot of gaming.

Life goes On

Eventually I did finish university. I’ve already covered this before, but everything about me was driven by video games. I found the love of my life through video games, my job path was driven by video games and now I wanted to make my life around video games. This could be done by working towards cutting back on working time (and not worry about money) and funding my video game addiction by generating passive income. First I needed to free myself of any financial obligations, however. I decided to finish my last two years of school with help from the military so now I owe the government four years of my life. It can’t be that bad; I’ve already been in five years at this point as a reservist! At least at this point my life I had done two things: a) get out of school (mostly) debt-free and b) secure myself a cool job with good benefits (really, the military has some cool health benefits and other things)

After I settled into my new place, the newest expansion for FFXIVStormblood, just came out. A month or so after that, the hardest content for the game at the time gets released and I’m itching to raid again. I also found out that my fiance also raided in the game and we were able to raid together. We opted to get a group together, so we got ourselves a bunch of friends (mostly his) and started recruiting. Things were looking good.

Trouble Was Brewing

We finally got ourselves a raid group! My fiance and I were flex players because we had leveled a class in each role of Tank, Healer and DPS. Problem was that we were both DPS mains, and of the same class too! However, since my group also consisted of my fiance’s friends and they had raided together before, they opted for him to be the DPS and I’ll be tanking. So I got stuck learning something completely new. No problem. I like learning new things, but I was a bit slower because I wasn’t familiar with not only mechanics but also class fundamentals. We were progressing well, until the third fight of the tier where things started to get rough in mechanics. I was also still new-ish to raiding, since I’ve only done two raids in FFXIV, while the rest of the group raided together for a whole expansion. I could already tell that they were getting impatient because I was just that slow in learning, not to mention the group had some temper/ego issues when the going gets tough.

Meanwhile work had started to wear down on me. The initial training period was about three years to complete, starting once I settled into my new place. What really bites was that the format was very similar to university. University was super tough on me; I nearly quit on my 4th year and it took me seven years to complete! To experience another three years of that was just… dumb. What anxiety nightmares I had in university now became a reality. One of these examinations I had to do was to stand in front of the room and regurgitate all of my knowledge out by memory. The evaluators were also senior officers. The anxiety and shame of actually performing really badly got to me. It was so bad that I managed to make a prophecy came true and I failed my first evaluated attempt. It was very upsetting and this all came during that progression into the third fight.

While we did eventually clear the third, started progressing on the fourth fight of the tier and I did pass my oral evaluation, things were not looking up. While my co-tank and I were able to work it out, Iwas having trouble trying to hold aggro from the DPS since I was the one initiating the fight. One of the DPS started yelling at me, one of my fiance’s friends. I’m sure he meant well, but my brain wasn’t connecting it. I asked for advice about my role from other friends as well; I was doing most things right, just needed to cast more things and that the yelling wasn’t necessary. We even tried swapping roles where I was DPSing and my fiance was tanking. I did everything a depressed person should NOT do during this time: withdrawing from the group, getting very angry at myself and beating myself up for it, not asking for help, and ghosting. There were many nights where I decided to go off by myself into town and drink my sorrows away. I came home late because I wanted to avoid being at home, even missing raid nights. It got so bad that when I finally did withdraw from the group, I started pestering my fiance while he was raiding with them. I started having thoughts that I wasn’t welcome in the group. I even started thinking of plans of starting to live homeless, bouncing from place to place just because I thought I was useless.

Eventually I made a decision to become a better person and seek some help and therapy. I also decided to dedicate more of my time towards my work.

Revelation

In September of 2019, I finally got posted to a ship. It was a dream come true! I always wanted to be on board of an actual war vessel! My unit just got reactivated so they had to do a lot of things to prepare for deployment. I was only a junior officer; despite my persona was. I don’t know anything! The rank I was at, Sub-Lieutenant, means you literally knew nothing and you were treated as such. That’s unfortunately one of the few things that I didn’t like about the Navy, where your rank does give you some clout about who you are as a person. (I’m not sure about the Army or the Air Force, but I heard they don’t treat you like that. Junior air force officers even get to have a whole section to themselves… What a joke.) What was funnier was that I was certain I was treated better as an Ordinary Seaman (or Private for you Army folks) than in my current position! Because of this, I was often relegated to sitting on the sidelines and watch. That actually hurt me to the core; I knew they mean well for safety and for efficiency. That hurt me to the core as I highly valued helping other people out; this was the reason why I decided to serve. Not only that, I really hated this because it also forced me to treat others as if they were stupid because they were of lower rank. While it was understandable that it’s the middle of the night, your subordinates were somewhat brain-dead because they had a long night and needed some hard prodding to get them moving, it was not right to completely assume they were stupid. I place a lot of value in trusting my Subject Matter Experts; they know what they’re doing and they do it well! I would let them run things unless they need some guidance on what I needed done.  (I was later told that this was only for evaluations, and in-real life this isn’t really it. I’m not buying it.)

If I actually went sailing... Maybe this would've happened.

I knew something was wrong when I came back to work one day, while on vacation, I sat alone in the lounge broken while waiting for another evaluation. I wanted this evaluation done so badly that I had to come in on my own time to get it done. I passed that evaluation with flying colors but I felt empty inside. The fact was that I started sleeping heavily once I came home from work, to mask the anger and pain I was feeling. I lost all interest in doing anything I wanted to do at that point. If I let this sunk any further, I might have allowed myself to get hit by a car sooner or later.

I had to be super honest for myself. I missed raiding and competitive games, and I missed playing video games in general. I wanted to help people towards doing things they wanted to do and I thought guiding people towards being the best they could be through a medium like video games was the way to do it. I wanted to give them the best experience of their lives, somehow, even though I wasn’t good at the games I’m playing. However on the work side, there was nothing wrong. Nothing wrong with the people, or the culture (despite what everyone else is saying), the job was cool and fun and I had finally gotten to the point in my military career where I was about to do the one thing I signed up for. Something in my core was shaken and broken and it didn’t resonate with the work me anymore. The two halves of me were in conflict with each other. One side of me was deeply afraid of going off the deep end; the end where I abandon a good job with benefits with no certainty of my future. The other me was ready to shoot myself first in the foot then at the head. One thing for sure was: I don’t want to lose the game of Life.

The Life Changing Decision

This was really hard to write. It really is. I’ve thought about it for a long time and I finally put in my papers to quit. It’s scary, but I think it was the for the best. I do have lingering regrets about not following through on my bucket list in my military career but it is what it is.

As for my raiding party back then, I apologize for my behavior. I really do wish it could have been better and I could’ve been a better person. You guys made a difference my life and I needed to remind and forgive myself. I know there’s one of you that we didn’t get along well. I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you how I felt. I knew you meant well but I wasn’t in the right place at the time and I wish I could have communicated better. I’m glad you’re doing well and I hope you’re doing well wherever you are.

It seems after all of this, I wrote this for myself. I’ll be honest, this was my way of letting go. The biggest takeaway from this is that you shouldn’t be afraid of what you’re going to do next.  Also, get help. Talking to friends (online or real), or your family can help you validate your feelings on the matter, and even kick you in the butt to do something about it. However, that alone isn’t enough. I almost killed myself doing this. I had to seek help. Keep moving forward and live in the hope that things will look better.

I sincerely hope this helped you. Has there any been any moments in gaming where you realized that you needed to kick yourself in the butt? Personally, I think this was the best decision I have done.

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