Mel’s Monday Musings: June 7, 2021

I’ve always been a gamer (I was small when the first NES came into the house; I remember handing the controller to my dad to make a hard jump for me if I got frustrated). It occurred to me a few days ago that my gaming journey has paralleled my personal one in a lot of ways.

In college and for several years thereafter, I mostly played MMORPGs (Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 primarily, but also Diablo II* and III). Most of my friends at the time played, as did my now-husband, so gaming factored heavily into my social life. I also had friends who were the ladies’ night out/drinks/yes sort, before anyone thinks I’m *too* much of a nerd!

In games like Guild Wars, there are offensive and defensive classes (one can argue that every class is both to some degree, but let me gloss over that for simplicity’s sake, ok?). In most situations, the party needs at least one person for each of the following: dealing in-your-face damage, absorbing in-your-face damage (those two “jobs” often co-exist in a barbarian/warrior-style class), someone in the back firing ranged damage (bow and arrow, magic, whatever form that takes), and some kind of healer.

None of my friends enjoyed being the healer; it can be a thankless class. You don’t get to actually hurt the bad guys (most of the time), you stare at other people’s health bars instead of watching the action sometimes, you have to be very quick and prioritize properly, and if anything at all goes wrong, everyone might blame you — whether it was your fault or not. There’s nothing like 3-7 other players yelling for heals while all of your healing spells are on cooldown!

I took on the healing role for our group in Guild Wars 99% of the time — and no, I wasn’t pressured into it because I was the lone girl; I had already earned our group’s respect as a fellow gamer/an equal in college. I took that on myself. I learned the healer class and those skills, worked on my timing, and got pretty damn good at it. It didn’t feel important except when it went wrong, but hey, everyone else was enjoying themselves and that made me smile. Natalia Nighthealer had your back, man!

I even learned how to cast with a sleeping infant in my arms. I was on it.

But was I happy?

I was finding my footing in life — as a new mom, as a new wife, as a college grad/adult (all of these things coincided, oops) — and as much as I enjoyed being useful, I knew I was so much more than that, and I needed to be all of those other things out loud vs. allowing them to be buried beneath responsibilities and daily life. I needed the world to see me for who I truly am, not just the quiet healer who always did whatever had to be done, the mom, etc. That is part of my personality, but it’s not even close to all of who I am. I’m a fiery, heart-on-sleeve kaleidoscope, y’all.

One of the first ways I started showing up for myself again was by learning to play other classes in-game. I discovered that the brutish in-your-face me-have-pointy-stick classes weren’t my jam, but I could throw DOWN as a back-row elementalist. I was so good at one point that I got recruited into one of the game’s then-largest and most prestigious guilds (the “in” was being able to defeat the guild leader in one-on-one (PvP) combat…muahahaha).

It was such a small thing, but it wasn’t, if that makes sense. I left our party’s healing to an NPC tag-along or to whoever else wanted to pick it up, and I did what I wanted to do after all those years of defaulting to what everyone else needed. I was still a decent team player, don’t get me wrong; I dragged Natalia out here and there, but I didn’t feel tethered to that class anymore. I knew the world would go on turning if I raised my face to the sun and incinerated some bad guy ass along the way. 😉

My first elementalist’s name was Esse Q Videri, short for NC’s motto: Esse quam videri — to be, rather than to seem. Fitting, no?

Live authentically. Live vibrantly. LIVE every day of your life.

*Yes, I would argue that D2 is an MMORPG – just more instanced than most, if you will/a very early one. Don’t @ me.