For the last 170 days I have been posting first at 5pm BST and then 5pm GMT a screenshot from my hard drive, overlaid with a motivational quote. It has not been done as a means of gaining popularity, nor was it conceived as a way of attracting attention. The main reason I did it was to read every single quote myself, and try to learn from them.
This morning, the point I was trying to make to myself finally registered.
I’ve been asked by various people in my almost nine-year blogging career if I’d ever want to work for Activision Blizzard. The answer has always been a resounding no, and that’s a situation which has remained a constant over the years I’ve been here. I’ll freely admit I wanted more recognition for my writing on Azeroth, but it took a while to realise my reasoning on that was fatally flawed. I was, in that situation, completely and utterly the problem, and after several years of being paid to do the job I’d wanted for so long came a revelation: nope, this was not the true path to happiness. Ironically, it was a particular subset of players who finally destroyed that love affair, those who dictate that if you don’t do things their way, you’re just worthless.
Motivation began, in a way, just to show those people they can never win. It doesn’t matter how well-meaning or virtuous you say you are, the moment others are judged on arbitrary criteria, you lose. When you don’t spend the time to get to know others properly, or dismiss them because they don’t fit your ethos. When your answer to disagreement isn’t to stop and think but simply to react. Over the years, in this virtual environment, I’ve been guilty of all these things. So, it was time to learn, and to understand that if I was ever going to get better, people needed to feel they understood what this game really means to me, warts and all… the fact I can hate and love it in the same breath. This game saved my life and almost destroyed it too.
The fact I remain has been a topic of some discussion in this household of late. Some days I need a space to feel I belong, surrounded by people who understand what I am, and that’s what the Warcraft community now represents for me. The gaming is often incidental, until (as I realised this morning) comes the understanding I have a debt that remains unpaid. Looking at the toxic nature of the Internet, understanding that gaming has it’s fair share of culpability in that process… and knowing this is where I now choose to plough a different furrow, it seems easy to walk away and expect somebody else to solve the problems. I’ve watched so many people do this, over the years, grow tired of the noise and depart, because the toxic nature of the environment doesn’t ever seem to diminish.
Sure you can silence people or call them out but unless there are means to ban them, permanently and force them into the open, nothing ever changes. Unless designers are made to think about the ethical consequences of their actions, unless diversity is forced front and centre… what actually alters? More significantly, in an environment where everybody and their grandmother is attempting to make some cash off the back of Warcraft’s success… All the principles end up being warped when all that matters is the cash you pull in. I can’t change the way ActiBlizz does their business, but I can refuse to be a part of that culture, whilst at the same time making a point. If I make one person think or feel better as a result of a random scrap of Azeroth?
UTTERLY WORTH MY TIME.
I read every quote I stick on a screenshot. I remember the places that are captured, the stories that will travel with me for the rest of my life, all of which spring from these images. Putting the two together has become a part of my therapy, a constant drip to remind me that getting better, constant evolution is infinitely preferable to a life of narrow minded constancy. As long as I still play, there will be a Motivational quote in my timeline at 5pm as a reminder to me and everybody else that this game made me what I am, and I’m never going to lose sight of that significance. This is my way of giving back, and I don’t expect anything in return. That’s not how motivation works.
To be the person who gives with no desire for reward is the best lesson I continue to learn daily.