Pride in the face of ridicule. Strength through vulnerability. There are some things you just can’t give up.
The Death of Raiding
Being depressed about a raid wipe could have seemed odd, because it happens all the time. I can understand them being annoyed, certainly, especially if they have to re-clear to get to the boss(es) again, but do depressed? That is, until they revealed their greatest fear … what if this is just a tiding? What if this is a sign that raiding, as they know it, is dead? That’s a good reason to be discouraged, if you ask me.
So What If It’s Silly?
Anyone who has spent time as a hardcore gamer—or, and this is just an example, spent 10+ hours a week blogging anime for almost three years now—has probably gotten sine strange looks from people. Why spend so much time on something that doesn’t matter? Putting aside the nihilist answer (“Does anything really mean anything?” Shutupshutupshutup!), William’s answer was stirring. So what if it doesn’t matter? They chose to pour their time, effort, and love into this game, so who cares what the others say? It’s the old “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” (Random plug: that saying illustrated at Zen Pencils. Good site, highly recommended.) His passion really touched me, partially because Nakamura Yuuichi knocked the scene out of the park, and partially because it touched upon something I believe myself. So what if watching (and writing about) anime doesn’t “matter”? Screw ’em! We do what we want!
Bonus points: Rallying his people against a perceived “other” is a cheap, effective way to drive them forward. That’s not what ended up doing it, though.
Strength Through Vulnerability
I have a long-standing gripe about geopolitical politics. (Stay with me, now.) Why is it that, when we get on a corporate or national level, everything we learn about strength just goes out the door? Many of us are taught as children to not to fight back, to turn the other cheek, or at the very least to not throw the first punch. But organizations and countries believe that any display of mercy or compassion is weakness, and weakness will lead to destruction.
Bullshit. Showing vulnerability doesn’t make you weak, it shows you’re strong. Only the truly strong are able to show vulnerability like William did, to admit something honest and (to him) shameful and still stand in front of his people, unbowed. It shows he’s human. And once again, there was power in what he said, and more than a little truth. Hardcore gamers, MMORPG raiders included, are often a socially dysfunctional bunch, not always able to do in person what they’re able to do from behind a screen. I’ve been there myself, and still am to a degree. There were times when I spent more time with my guildmates than I did with my RL friends, and the very fact that “RL friends” is part of my vocabulary tells you something. And it’s also true that MMORPGs can teach us who play them while we’re young a lot about life—close human interaction, whatever the medium, changes you, and positive interactions change you for the better. William showed vulnerability, and I’d be willing to bet that his guildmates—his friends—will fight even harder for him, and beside him, than ever before. They’re closer to the real William now, and so are we.
The Grass Is Always Greener
It’s always interesting to see how the grass is greener on the other side. William looks up to Shiroe, something that I didn’t expect. Who wouldn’t, after he tamed Akihabara, something William didn’t think was possible? (Yes, there are people like Demikas who don’t, but quiet you. I’m on a roll here.) And when William spoke about the regret of running away … yes. This so much. If you haven’t collected a long list of regrets yet, let me tell you this now—you’ll always regret the times you ran away more than the times you failed. Failure is how you learn and grow, while running away does nothing. It sounds hackneyed when I say it, but it’s true.
As for Shiroe, though William looks up to him for tackling the hardest challenges and winning, Shiroe wonders if he can be an honest and vulnerable Guild Master like William. The grass truly is always greener on the other side. The key is to walk over to that side and ask them how they got their grass so green. Borrow from everyone so you can be better. You’ll all be richer for it.
Looking Ahead – Trying Again
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – What could be the end of raiding leads to a stirring confession from William. It’s time to try again #loghorizon s2e10
Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: The brick walls, The allure of magic, Import, don’t recycle, and Impostor syndrome. For book updates, sign up for my mailing list.