I am not a gamer, unless you do not play video games, then I am a pretty good gamer. My wonderful, long-suffering husband, has played video games for the better part of forty years, so I decided that I would learn so that we could play together. For a wedding present we received Guild Wars 2, a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game.) GW2 is not my first game, but the one that I still play, and my favorite. The reason that this game is so dear to my heart, and keeps me returning, is the community. This piece is about one community member in particular, she has gone by many names, but for our purposes here, she will be known as Jakket.
Jakket played every day, she knew the best places to farm for gold, and had no problems taking charge, so I followed her. I was not alone. Soon I saw that her reliability attracted followers where ever she frequented. She was not chatty, she ignored drama, saying she was too old for that to affect her (although she used much more colourful language.) She was in charge of every map she was on, not because she craved control. She desired for things to run smoothly, and if no one else would do it she would roll her eyes and dig in. When she observed other people doing something more efficient, she would immediately adapt it to fit her needs. Before long I was playing with her for a couple of hours a day, something that did not go unnoticed by her friend, and now mine, Pantzz (there is an emerging theme.) He invited me to join them, so I created a new avatar, and Hattzz was introduced to the world.
Hattzz was a part of something, we became recognizable. I became more confident and started trying more challenging content, this introduced me to more people. After time all of the people Jakket drew around her became my friends, and in some cases, a part of my tribe (OPL bless.) They helped me find my voice, and taught me that my authentic self is accepted, and therefore acceptable. This is what gave me the skills and the courage to create community irl (in real life.)
So I started to focus on what has so far become these weird fun creations, and I could not play everyday. Every time I joined my friends in GW2, Jakket would admonish anyone who encouraged me to work less and play more. She would tell them building things takes work, and it makes my eyes fill, knowing that she was proud of me. I was not the only person I saw her support, but those are other people’s stories to tell.
Jakket died in December 2017. Those of us who she drew together created memorials, wrote, made art, and there is at least one of us who stands where she stood everyday. She did not try to build a community, but she created one nonetheless, something that I find endlessly inspiring.
I honour her and take her with me whenever I remember:
Life is too short for petty drama.
Building things takes work.
Showing up everyday can be enough to start.
One person’s desire for things to go well can be enough.
Community can not be forced, it is organic, it can be nurtured to grow.
Now, go out and be nice to newbs.
Love to Jakket’s Army & Krewe, and all the beautiful Sparkfly family.