RTMT: Dance lessons for trolls

You know that splashscreen/swipe that says something like, “Don’t forget to get out of Azeroth once in awhile, and take your friends with you?” It is subtly expressing that Blizzard is doing its part to recognize that well, folks need fresh air once in a while. Until that day when the game becomes like a Wii fitness, and I can battle virtual monsters in my yoga pants (wait, damn, I don’t have yoga pants!! That’s my problem!)

Tomorrow is Mataoka’s three-year ‘creation’ anniversary. Three years…sheesh! Where did the time go? What have I accomplished, in game, sure, but more importantly, outside of the game? To the Reflection Machine! (Cue whirring Batmobile soundtrack here.)

/shrug -I dunno.

Well, let’s see. Got to go to Blizzcon two years ago, and that was fun.

If I ever go again, I hope she’s there…

Listened to this story about a concentration camp survivor and famous cellist I had never heard of before: Janos Starker

On Saturday I met my writing buddies in downtown Seattle, and one of the member’s husbands works in an architectural firm, so we were buzzed in by a handsome doorman who unlocked elevators that whisked us up to the third floor, and there were large tables, and books, and designs, and and and it was like a magical fairyland of professionalism and obtuse angles.

I set my own creative writing assignment, and took photographs of blue things. I shot blue hair (not old lady blue hair, but true-blue Otter Pop melted rainbow hair) to blue signs, blue logos, fish, cars, jackets, etc. Can’t wait to put it together.

Why don’t they have that in Azeroth? Dance studios, architecture, music lessons?

At one point we stopped in a wine-tasting bar. I’ve never been to an actual wine-tasting room before. Pro tip: if you’re going to Seattle and want to go into one, do so before noon when the crowds start showing up. It feels both sneaky and debauched to start drinking wine at 11:45AM. Hey, only a tiny bit!

So my goals are to 1. buy some yoga pants 2. not wear them to the grocery store like I actually do yoga 3. start doing yoga 4. hold off on the wine tastings for a few months 5. get outside more

Cause they don’t sell Spanx for Night Elves:

I’m going to be studying the dance moves of trolls and elves, too:

(needs music: still doing research)

There are just too many amazing things on the Internet, even though some days I wish it was closed for repair. All the evil, bloody, and stupid stuff would go away, back to its hell-hole from whence it came. Right now, I’m going to go look up Maori dance music and traditional hula steps. Oh, some reggae would be lovely, too.

Drabble: Own Way

Happiest Place on Earth: Azuremyst
“Dornaa, I went mining for some lower quality gems so you can get started on your jewel crafting training. I put them in the bank for you.” Mataoka was so excited to see Dornaa carry on the traditions of Draenei jewel crafting. She herself had spent years perfecting gem cuts, and having a discerning eye for the perfect magic of each gemstone. Dornaa looked sheepish. “I have decided to pursue Engineering, Matty. I didn’t want to tell you.” Mataoka was not sure what hurt her more: the choice or the holding back. “And, it’s Goblin Engineering.”

“I see,” she said.
* * *
I am already missing that second account much more than I thought, although I know it’s a very good thing. The reason I am missing it is because I love to start new characters, new zones, new everything: how tedious things become for me when I reach top level surprised me. Isn’t that always the goal? More, more,  more? And how envious I am of those who can play only one true main, and craft and hone their skills to world-class levels of play? I don’t deny them their skills or knowledge: I just wish I could groove like that. I will forever remain a dilettante; and that’s just fine. I know I am in good company with my love of alts. But there is impatience in me, too–even with Dornaa, I tossed on a trunk load of heirlooms and just today alone went from level 14 to 28 in a few hours. Boom. Done. I swore that I would savour leveling her, take my time, do every quest, and here I am again, leveling out of zones faster than I can get a flight path. 
I told my friend Señor and CDR all I wanted to do was sit in Azuremyst and watch the purple skies. That’s it. Listen to the crickets. Listen to the music of the zone. Chill. Out. Friday was a terrible, horrific day. No hyperbole, no exaggeration. It was the kind of day that broke me. Somehow the skies and pines of Azuremyst mend me. So does a glass of good Merlot, but that’s a story for another time.
Yes. I could grab Mataoka and go “home” for a spell. And I have done that on occasion. But Dornaa’s narrative intrigues me: I feel that when I am playing her, and aiding the Nestlewood Owlkin and their primitive, shamanistic, indigenous rituals, I am in another world. Somehow if I am on a leveled character, that sense of immersion dissipates and feels too nostalgic to be authentic.
Perhaps it’s a good thing we are not getting three specializations. This way, I am forced to level Dornaa in a new way. She is strictly elemental and restoration. Not an agility muscle will be flexed, nor a single piece of gear without intelligence in it. 
Not sure what it is — probably my own projection of narrative and idiosyncrasies–but let’s just say it’s mischief, magic, and mojo: playing Dornaa is unique to her. We’ll just leave it at that.

Inner beauty

Today I’m up again at the crack of dawn to meet with my writing group. I was furiously writing a thesis paper last night (where did all this procrastination come from? I will figure that out tomorrow…) and trying to figure out transportation, so today will be spent in the big city, and I don’t mean Dalaran.

I found this image a while ago, and thought it almost, but not quite, suited how I see Mataoka:

It’s by an artist named Colindrina from Deviantart. Mataoka, at heart, loves to drink with Dwarfs and hang out in rowdy inns: this may be her before responsibilities and world fatigue begins to trip up her mojo. And look–her mug’s empty. No wonder.

I will always treasure Vidyala’s commissioned piece, however, as this is how she really is:

The thing about our characters is we are in (delusional) control over something that never ages, as we ourselves grow a little older. I’ve played Mataoka about 148 hours. Titan Panel tells me so every time I log on. My Titan Mirror, the one on my bathroom wall, tells me I’ve played my life a bit more than that. The scales tell me when I should have said no to that second glass of wine, or when I should have gone for a walk instead of farmed some ore. My blue jeans tell me the same thing in their silent refusal to snap buttons or zip up.

A good friend told me yesterday that when she hit this magical age number, she realized that she was getting happier and happier each day. Somehow psychologically the things that she cared about, namely, worrying about what others thought of her, suddenly didn’t seem so important. Maybe it was her father’s passing, and the concept of “don’t sweat the small stuff” resonated with her deeply, and fundamentally. One can’t “make” these epiphanies happen, but we can lay the groundwork for them.

Mataoka will never age, as I am. Does this mean as a character she’ll never get to experience epiphanies of simply not giving a damn at a certain age? Well, she will if I write her narration that way, but otherwise, no. All those epiphanies belong to me.

Mataoka’s and Navimie’s Beasts of Pandaria Fables: Kafi

Dornaa would not listen. It was unlike her to be so disobedient, and the matron lost all patience. The little Draenei had been playing outside for hours, the first warm spring day in weeks, the first day with real, pure sunshine, and when it grew dark, she pretended not to hear the matron call her in. The streetlamps went on. The merchants pulled in their wares. The beasts in the forest began snarling, and the carousers in the inns began drinking. Nothing was safe now. Still, Dornaa did not come home. Beginning to feel terrified, the matron, Mercy, felt at once anger and despair. When the guards were about to be notified, Dornaa snuck in through the side door, only to find Mercy, arms akimbo, and angry fire in her eyes. She swooped up Dornaa and swatted her backside. She had never struck a child before. The look of betrayal on Dornaa’s face crushed her.

Mercy left the house in order to cool down. The other matrons tucked Dornaa in, even though she smelled  of dirty skin, sweat, and spring air. Dornaa grumbled tough curses under her breath about “How sorry she would be” and the injustice of the spanking. But she hurt, too. The matron was warmth, hugs, love, and stories. She supposed there would be no story tonight, and she didn’t deserve one.

Relieved that she was safe, and guilty over striking the child, Mercy could not sleep unless she checked in on her favorite child. She sat on Dornaa’s bed, and Dornaa rolled over, tear-streaked little face, sniffling, and grabbed Mercy with her whole self. “You scared me, little one. That’s why I got so angry. Please don’t ever scare me like that again.”

“I am sorry. I was stubborn and didn’t want to come in.”

“Well, let me tell you of another stubborn little kid, Dornaa.”

When Kafi was a kid, bleating and ramming his horns, he wanted more than anything to be the Father of the Mountain. As it was, his father had ruled over the mountaintop for as long as memory, and goats’ memories are exceptionally long. They remember every insult, challenge, or defeat. But most importantly, they remember victories, and hang onto them with all that they are. The victories were their pride, and pride was everything.

The Father of the Mountain ruled over the herd for so long that even the mountain had grown familiar with his command. Each day he awoke to his crisp blue kingdom of gold and rock on the mountaintop: he knew it was his sovereign right to be there, to defend and protect the nannies and kids from the prowling leopards and ferocious yetis. The yetis could decimate a herd in minutes, ripping through flesh eating goats pelt, horns, and all. He must defend them all, and over time believed he was the most capable, most courage Father of the Mountain the gods had ever chosen to rule.

Zìháo never faltered in his duties, but he never relinquished them either. Many a young buck would challenge him in the spring, vying for his position of power and glory, and would be sent careening off the sides, skittering for purchase with their novice hooves. It was normal and expected that every spring this would happen: it was known that for the good of the herd, if the Father of the Mountain could not protect them, he should fall. This was the way, and the way of his father, and father before him.

When a challenger would shamefully climb down from the mountainside on the easy path, he would tell them:
Someday I’ll give up the mountain
But today is not that day
Someday you’ll be where I am
But for now, get out of my way

One spring, Zìháo surveyed his herd and noticed his youngest son, Kafi, ramming horns with the other bucks. It did not pass his notice, either, that Kafi looked back up at him and did not gaze down quickly. This one—this one didn’t know his place.

Over time, Kafi grew stronger and bolder. Before he was full grown, he asked his mother if he was ready to challenge Zìháo. His mother told him, “There are two paths to the top, Kafi. The easy one and the difficult one: the easy one will never reach your father, but the difficult one will. When you can reach him, you will only be ready to challenge him. It does not mean you will beat him. And my son, it is a long way down.”

Kafi found the easy path up the hill soon enough, and it didn’t seem all the easy to him. Yes, there were many delicious flowers to eat in the nooks of the rocks, and the grass was softer on his hooves, but there were steep bluffs, but over time he scaled them as if he were an bird. He would hate to know what the difficult path looked like. He finally found a spot where the easy path stopped, and he could go no further. Unless he grew wings he would never reach the top this way. He heard his father’s voice just over the edge. An eagle was speaking to him, saying another had stolen his nest, asking for Zìháo’s advice. Kafi was confused. He thought his father just stood on the mountaintop all day, lording over all those beneath him. Zìháo gave the eagle some wise advice, (something about creating a new nest and life for himself) and off the eagle flew. Kafi climbed down.

The next spring, Kafi climbed back up the easy path, thinking he might be able to short cut the path to his father. He came to the same impossible edge, and could go no further. He heard his father speaking to tolai hare, humbly asking for forgiveness because she had eaten all of the silkweed meant for the warren’s supper. Zìháo told her to go and replace as much as she could, and not take another helping until the debt was repaid. Kafi climbed down the mountain.

This year, Kafi was larger, and stronger. He went up the easy path again, and met the same obstacle. A fox kit, wounded from a hunter’s misguided arrow, sought Zìháo for healing advice. Kafi was flummoxed. His father knew about healing, too? The fox kit ate some berries, bound his wound with silkweed, and seemed no worse for wear. He hopped down on the ledge where Kafi stood, looking at him quizzically. “Why are you standing here, when you could be standing next to your father?”

Kafi told the kit he was stuck, and could not figure out another way to seek his father, and ultimately challenge him. The fox told him, “The difficult path is just on the other side; try that way.”

Climbing down the mountain once more, he sought the difficult path. This path railed against all logic: overhangs, steep bluffs, thorns, nettles, and biting beasts. Bitter cold wind sliced his pelt, making him feel like he was held down by the shearer’s blade. Just when he thought he could go no further, the mountain leveled out, and there was a smooth, soft path to his father’s throne.

What Kafi did not know was that Zìháo was ready to relinquish his rule. He had watched his stubborn son grow into a leader. He still wasn’t quite ready yet, and must be tested. He had strength, he had desire, but did he have humility?

“Father, it is time.” Kafi stood his ground.

“So be it. There is grey in my beard, and my hooves aren’t as sharp as they once were. But I can still outrun, out climb, and out maneuver you. Whoever is the last ram standing, until the sun rises on the red flag, will be our herd’s new leader.”

A battle of rams is a terrifying site. The horns clash like thunder and the hooves shred the earth like a thousand mounted soldiers, with bloodlust and rage. Kafi did not realize his father was still so powerful. Each pushed forward with no quarter for the other. But youth began to win out over experience, just an edge, and an edge was all Kafi needed. Blindly he rammed Zìháo once, twice, and again. Zìháo was bleeding, bruised, and broken. The sun rose on the red flag: the battle was finished.

This is not what Kafi wanted. He wanted his father to continue to guide him, provide wisdom.

He bowed to him. Zìháo pulled up short, barely knocking Kafi to the ledge.

“Father, I seek your advice. I want to be a great leader for our people, but I am not sure what is the right path. How do I lead them and keep them safe, as you have done?”

Zìháo knew Kafi did not really need his advice; he was allowing him to save face, to save his dignity. His pride of being the Father of the Mountain gave way to being Kafi’s father.

“Son, you may rule the mountain.”

And with that, Zìháo went down the easy path, and lived the rest of his days with the herd, respected and loved. Kafi still rules the top of the mountain to this day, and if you challenge him, you may think you’ve won, but he’s just allowing you to think so.

The moral of this story is, it is prideful to beat our enemies with all that we have, but worthy of pride to win with dignity.

Dornaa was asleep. Mercy thought to herself, “Yes, that is a tiresome story when you’re young.”

Years later, training as a young shaman in Azuremyst, Dornaa bested every beast, every challenge, and every obstacle with ease. She began to think there was no stopping her, and nothing she couldn’t do. She was mining some ore and slipped down a cliff, not hurt but embarrassed, and she hoped no one saw her fall.

She still had some things to learn.

Writer’s Note:
On Tuesday night, I was playing Dornaa, and another player spotted her as a I was about to log off, and seemed absolutely thrilled to see her–she hugged Dornaa, waved, waved some more…she never whispered or anything, but stood jumping in the inn for about five or more minutes. 

It was probably because she recognized Dornaa’s name from being a world-famous NPC. Must admit that was kind of fun.

It’s a (fill in the blank) thing, you wouldn’t understand…

Escarlata, which means “Scarlet” (feminine) in Spanish, created by an American woman, and is living on an Oceanic server. It’s a strange world, after all.

I sure do hope Tome never gets tired of her posts inspiring me. I’m sure she never in her wildest dreams thought, “You know, someday I hope there’s a Northwestern/Texan shaman who reads my thoughts and spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about them!” Well, Tome, you got your wish! Once again I’ve taken one nugget of a mention, and plan on steering it into dark, murky waters. Toot Toot! All Aboard!

Okay – here it goes. In her latest post, Conversations with Joan, in a comment Cymre mentions about how when one plays the Chinese version of WoW, you can cover up your bony joints. This reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write about: censorship, cultural sensitivity, and commercialism. 

*crickets*

Whatever. I want to ponder this, so ponder I shall. Freedom of Speech, and all that.

Let’s go back to 2011. I’m at Blizzcon, and talking to folks, am told that the Chinese government wouldn’t allow WoW unless some cultural modifications are made. And I know I should be embarrassed by using this, but one of the best comprehensive resources about this is Wikipedia:

In China, because a large number of the players do not own the computer they use to play games (e.g. Internet cafes), the CD keys required to create an account can be purchased independently of the software package. To play the game, players must also purchase prepaid game cards that can be played for 66 hours and 40 minutes.[57] A monthly fee model is not available to players of this region. The Chinese government and NetEase, the licensee for World of Warcraft in China, have imposed a modification on Chinese versions of the game which places flesh on bare-boned skeletons and transforms dead character corpses into tidy graves. These changes were imposed by the Chinese government in an attempt to “promote a healthy and harmonious online game environment” in World of Warcraft.[58][59] The Chinese government has delayed release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, due to what it feels is objectionable content.[60] NetEase took over licensing of World of Warcraftfrom The9 in June 2009 following the expiration of The9’s contract,[61] and were able to secure a launch for Wrath of the Lich King on August 31, 2010, nearly two years after its Western release.[62]

A forum on MMO Champion discusses this issue:
http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1278136-Difference-Between-WoW-in-China-and-WoW-in-US?p=20590004

But here are my questions:

1. Why? Anyone out there of Chinese heritage who can answer this for me? (Since posting yesterday have been considering this–it is universally difficult to handle the subject of death, and Asian culture is no exception. Of course it’s not cool to show bones! Who wants to give the Grim Reaper any ideas?!)

2. Should a company change its marketing/product to be culturally sensitive?

I can answer #2: Yes, if it wants to be viable in the global market.

I heard years ago about the Chevrolet Nova. “No Va” in Spanish means No Go. Imagine how well sales did there. But there are many more examples of terrible, expensive, and hilarious marketing blunders:

Don’t drink your ancestors.

And this one:

5. There are several examples of companies getting tangled up with bad translations of products due to the word “mist”. We had “Irish Mist” (an alcoholic drink), “Mist Stick” (a curling iron from Clairol) and “Silver Mist” (Rolls Royce car) all flopping as “mist” in German means dung/manure. Fancy a glass of Irish dung?

Kind of gives Mists of Pandaria a new meaning…

Case in point of cross-cultural contentions: In U.S. schools, a traditional “Halloween” party rarely exists. Religious groups protested, and over time schools might have a “harvest” celebration, but ghosts and ghouls are no more. They have bitten the dust. Bought the farm. Gone onto their great commercial reward. This deeply saddens me. It’s something I grew up with, and love. It’s part of my culture. But it interfered with someone else’s cultural rights. Nothing I can do about it, but in my own private life make sure I decorate with as many witches, ghosts, and monsters as I please. Fine. But this is a world game. At what point does a cultural (encompassing religious, traditional, and political views) encroach on the rest of the world? If I had to play a game where the bony joints of the undead were removed from sight, I would be annoyed. But if I was raised without knowing anything differently, or more importantly, knew that this was a valued and important part of my culture that deserves respect, and then was exposed to this, I would probably be equally put out. I realize I don’t have to worry about this, because “they” have their game, and “we” have ours. Settled. 

But sometimes I wonder if we worry about the landscape of “our” game changing in ways we don’t desire, that a cultural piece is assimilated, mutated, or destroyed. The old “not in my back boneyard” song. What a silly thing to worry about, right? But it turns out, once again, I find out that I’m only human:

Yesterday I heard a fantastic interview by Mahzarin Banaji on NPR about a new study and resulting book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. It’s not so much the explicit acts of aggression or intolerance we perpetrate on one another, but the effects of connection and favoritism. In no way am I suggesting that we excuse that racist uncle or dismiss egregious trade chat, what I am suggesting is a recognition that we as humans all have predilections and cultural biases. Part of the deal, yo. 

This topic fascinates me, truly. Think about it: we all bring our own cultures with us, like big suitcases full of memories, foods, idioms, etc., and then we actively choose to layer these lives with virtual ones of fantasy characters. “Oh, you’re a NIGHT elf, not a BLOOD elf, well, fine, come right in! Have a seat!”We may be able to garner preferential treatment in a virtual world that we are unable to attain in the real one.

I was talking about idioms today, and a Spanish-speaking acquaintance shared with me that when her dad says “Hevo” to her, it means it’s non-negotiable. I doubt if I said “egg” to someone they’d catch my frisbee, know what I mean? But she explained the nuances of the term, and I got it.

And I’m still laughing over “fanny pack.”

Postscript: China opened an unlicensed WoW theme park– what cracks me up is people thinking Blizzard can do anything about it. (It looks really fun, too!)

Looking for Reality

Fail.

Tome: this will either cement your avoidance of LFR, or prod you to join me in fighting the good fight against young squires like Sir Chad.

Here is the situation:

Tome’s post really made me reflect on why I go into LFR. I mean seriously, why? It’s not like I am trying to stay current for a raid team, like I’m going to get called off the bench– I don’t want to be called off of any bench, I can’t right now, truth be told. Even this weekend I played too much yesterday (Saturday) and was only going to play “for a little bit” this morning, and go to the library, and wouldn’t you know, it’s 12:19PM, and well, yeah.

But yesterday, it is Saturday afterall, I thought I could avoid my duties for at least one day, you know, and get Zeptepi enough Valor Points to get a pretty necklace from the pandas in the cave. They’re lovely pandas, and I’m concerned that hanging out in the damp, drippy cave will give them all a horrible fungal infection, but perhaps they have a cream for it. Some special panda elixir or something that prevents cave rash. Anyway, in order to do this in a relatively short amount of time (insert laugh track here), this would involve going through the cycle of LFRs and a few dungeons.

And during one, I just stopped, and looked at how beautiful Zeptepi is:

Look at this eye candy– she is like a walking work of art and light. She is lovely to behold. The Gods of Warcraft have given me an angel. I just took a moment and admired the craftsmanship, and artistry, once again, that is Azeroth. But it’s not just standing around admiring my bad self, oh no — it dawned on me that LFR is the only place I can practice my stuff, and see it in action. Remember, it’s as big of a scale of battle that I can participate in right now, and training dummies just don’t cut it. It’s not about the meters, or the world stats, it’s about what am I doing, how I am performing, for myself, and myself only, and watching the prettiness fly.

And then comes along Chad.

You know the part where there are the slugs, and the spiders, and the ook and the ick and the poop piles? (You may recall I am the Spider Slayer in the Matty Shack: no hobo or recluse is safe from me once spotted: you will die a shriveled, broken mess, spider! NOT ON MY WATCH!) So while trying to dodge slug slime, I managed to aggravate a hanging spider. Whatever. No big whoop. And I get this whisper:

Fail? A “fail” whisper over one spider?

I inquire:

So, yes, there are add-ons that make bullying and experiences more trying and harassing. Chadeth, first – I hate to tell you this, and I’m sorry, but really–you sir should really think about some things.

I was laughing to myself for the rest of the day. Imagine, every single time something happens — from a fender-bender to a broken nail, up pops on your life screen a pink FAIL? And Chadeth, and more importantly, for the makers of that add-on, please— get a life. You never once made a mistake? Your expectations of perfection from the world around you are inevitably going to leave you embittered and very, very lonely. I know for a fact that you wouldn’t last five minutes in a room with two 8th grade girls who think you’re a loser. Hell, five? One. Have you ever noticed that every bullying story starts off with, “When I was in 8th grade…?” Eighth grade is a magical year. It’s when the bullies hone their most epic and evil of taunts and spells, and the targets are scarred for life. If we survive eighth grade, we can survive anything.

Chadeth: I am not an 8th grade girl. But I know a few. Watch out.

I’m going to create a new add-on, one that whispers: “You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And doggone it, people like you!”

Whoop-de-doo, mate!

Okay – promise – not a political post–this is a post about my friend Navimie. Navi is an Aussie. Navi worries about us Yanks sometimes, as she’s told me so. I’m sure she’s worried about our education system, our obesity rates, and the lack of good surfing locations. I share her concerns. While watching The Daily Show last night, I was squarely thinking of her. I look to the Southern Hemisphere to possibly give us Yanks some sanity. You just never know. If anything, at least you can watch this video– fast forward to the end, and you’ll be treated with some Australian beach beauties shouting, “Whoop-de-doo!” That made CDR rewind it a few times, that’s for sure. 

Anyway — what little things about your day remind you of a player friend? I have more than I can count, and wish I was sitting in a pub right now having handsome Aussies cheer me on with a hearty ‘whoop-de-doo,’ whatever that means, mate.