Guild Wars 2

There and Back Again (Or How I Overcame Anxiety To Play A Funny Wide Norn in 2021)

I love Guild Wars 2. On launch day, I made Crash Manflex, an enormous Norn Warrior, then spent the week barreling through tons and tons of content in green and blue gear, and scraped my way to 80 by reaching 400 cooking with the help of a guild that found me out at the Hoelbrak kitchens and tossed me an invite.

Crash eventually lost his luster. I was on Tarnished Coast, after all, and as a Coastie, I didn't want to aggravate the sensibilities of my roleplaying peers. Plus, if I wanted to dip my toes into their world at all, I'd feel a little silly contending with these beautiful, thought-out names and high-effort outfits.

So eventually, Crash got a name change. Then a full remodel. Now Crash is a hot lady norn with a different name, living a different life, and occasionally I look at her 400 Cooking level and sigh, fondly remembering the race to 80 and what it meant to me back in 2012.

So why did the shine come off the apple? Well, if it isn't obvious, I was playing to appeal to the sensibilities of the people around me, rather than playing for my own fun. Performing to what I assumed was a standard being applied to me by my peers. Trying to live up to an expectation I assumed had been set for me.

I stopped playing Crash, I hopped around characters, I found satisfaction in none of them. No matter how cool, how pretty, how fashionable I made my character, I felt a certain detachment. I kept thinking things to the effect of "I hope people like how I dressed up my doll. My super unique doll whose every detail I agonized over, right down to their name."

If you're like me, you eventually come to understand that other people aren't thinking like this. Anxiety tells you that they do care, and that their silence means everything, when the truth is that they don't, and their silence means they got up to feed the cat.

I confided in a friend how I felt about my GW2 characters and how they related to my anxiety, and she said something that really cleared things up for me. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something to the effect of:

Games are for supposed to be fun. If your character makes you laugh from the get-go, you'll get a lot more attached to them.

Enter Hamburger Hurter, stage right.

Hamburger Hurter is a three-foot-tall vector for me to make friends online. As Marie Kondo might say, he sparks joy. Not only in me, but in most everyone I meet! Something about logging into this minimum-height, maximum-width Norn and then using the Endless Miniature Tonic to achieve his canonical dimensions puts me in high spirits every time.

I play every kind of content except raids. Let's be real, I'm a little scared of them. But I run into a lot of random players otherwise- in dungeons, in fractals, out in the open world- and just the fact that I'm playing for my own amusement makes all the difference in the world. I'm more eager to connect with other players, tell jokes and share how I'm feeling. There's something disarming about the character that lets me be myself. It's the same magical something that let me make friends with my first guild back in 2012.

So why come onto reddit and say all this? Because I'm not the only one on earth with anxiety, for one. Maybe I was uniquely neurotic about characters, or maybe someone out there can relate, and they can also reclaim some of the pure joy that comes from making a character that cheers them up. If you're out there and you stress over the littlest things, trying to be perfectly comfortable in a community that you never seem to completely mesh with…

Maybe our friend Weird Al had it right. Maybe we should dare to be stupid.

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