A school for the Lord’s service…in Azeroth?

And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue)

So for the past year or so I’ve been playing World of Warcraft. I resisted it for ages, pointing out how it had borrowed a number of things from other games and pointing at its perceived flaws. I’m not sure why, but one day I asked my fiancé if I could make a character on his account to try it out. A few months later, I was level 80 and regularly raiding with a guild.

A year later, I’m still playing and an officer in the guild, and during that year I’ve learned a number of things about intentional community and my own understanding of the Rule of St. Benedict. Our guild–as Sr. Susan over at Musings of a Discerning Woman–so aptly pointed out was formed via social action.

I was hesitant to join a guild, a group of players who comes together to do certain content that can’t be done alone. So on a lark, I joined a “casual” guild, one that’s comprised of people who aren’t hardcore raiders, but are more in a guild for the bank space, social interaction, and help when they need it. I got to know a group of people, and we’d wind up grouping together more often than not. Soon, though, it came out that the Guild Master created the guild only to harbor gold farmers. One officer in that guild called the GM on it, and he booted her. A group of us left en masse as a protest. (Please do go read the article. Gold farming may seem innocent enough, but it is sweatshop labor, and it was something we weren’t going to support.)

Suddenly I found myself as a founding member of a guild, and an officer at that. I knew two things: I had no clue what it meant to be an officer, and I certainly didn’t feel worthy. But that action that created our guild–a concern for the ethics of what we do–has carried over into how we run the guild and play the game.

Time and time again, I’m reminded that there are people behind the characters. It can be in the life details: our GM has been out of work since December. Another guildie’s child broke an arm. Another guildie’s been sick with the flu. Someone else became a new parent. But it’s also in the interactions: I may not agree with the decisions of the Guild Master, but, ultimately, he’s in charge. After a time I’ve come to understand his decisions, and it’s helped me understand obedience in a way that a lot of commentaries on the Rule of St. Benedict don’t: fundamentally, obedience is lovingly listening to another, even when you think that other person is wrong, crazy, or being a jerk.

It’s also in letting that nice piece of loot go, when someone else needs it more than you. Sure, pixelated goodies don’t mean anything in the long run, but realizing you aren’t the center of the universe does mean a lot to the other person. The founding message of our guild was that the people behind the screen matter. What we do, we realize that we can’t do alone, and that we’re all in this together.

Next up: what I learned about the penal code.


~ by Jen on August 31, 2009.

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