What’s in a Name: The Origin of “Ironweakness”

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

This morning in church our pastor cited a passage from 2 Corinthians 12 which included the following verse “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b) Now this verse is meaningful to me because the spiritual reality it portrays is one I need reminded of regularly but it is also the source of my namesake in most MMOs and here at Waiting For Rez— Ironweakness. However I’ve never shared how I arrived at that name so if you’ve ever wondered what in the world an “Ironweakness” is, here’s your answer!

It began in early 2011 when I started playing multiplayer 1v1 matches in Starcraft 2. Prior to SC2, I hadn’t really played any video games in a long time, PC or otherwise but I had asked for it as a Christmas gift the year before for nostalgia reasons. As a high school student I played the campaign mode of the original game so when I received the sequel I initially did the same. However after beating it I started looking at the multiplayer options and discovered this whole subculture of competitive gaming that I did not even know existed. I spent a lot of time watching matches, learning builds, and even went to a live competition put on by MLG in Columbus, OH. I remember thinking at that event, “this must be what sports fans feel like,” because for the first time I actually understood the rulesets and skills of a competitive sporting match enough to actually enjoy it. I may no longer remember who won, but doing the wave in a convention center full of nerds before the final match is something I’ll never forget.

All this excitement for competitive SC2 drove me to improve my own gameplay. However skill was not the only thing I lacked, I also needed a good gaming handle. When I initially loaded SC2 I just used my first name as the username because at the time I didn’t know anything about the multiplayer components and thought it was just used for identifying users in the campaign mode. However after seeing so many other great names watching matches on YouTube and Twitch— so many distinct “identities” in the community— I wanted to develop one of my own. I thought long and hard on this one. You were only given one chance to change your name in SC2 so I had to make it count.

That’s when I was reminded of the above verse from 2 Corinthians. See, there were two primary types of names in SC2, those that were meant to be humorous and those that were meant to sound tough, a real competitor. Think of all the gladiator names from the show American Gladiators in the 90s and you’ll know what I mean. Turbo. Laser. Nitro. Or better yet, Nitroturbolaser. They were names meant to be boastful, to declare yourself a worthy opponent, a competitor not to be taken lightly. I decided I would turn that naming paradigm on its head a little by creating a boastful name in line with the apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. And so “Weakness” was born.

Fast forward a year and I stepped into the world of Azeroth for the first time. After playing around with several classes I finally settle on a hunter whom I named “Weakness” as well. At that time I saw character names in an MMO the same way I did my SC2 handle, it was a nickname representative of me rather than of the avatar I had created. Of course in time I began creating alts but I wanted to have that same core name so that regardless of which character I played, “Weakness” would still be the base name. Because of the 12 character limitations in WoW I had to think up four letter words to use as prefixes. Rageweakness, Findweakness, and ultimately, Ironweakness.

Ironweakness started as a Horde side hunter. I landed on the word “iron” because of the hunter talent “aspect of the iron hawk” that had been added in Mists of Pandaria. That hunter did not last very long but I loved the name so much I used it later for a Monk. I don’t remember if there was a Monk specific ability with the word “Iron” in it but I still thought it was fitting. “The Monk with the Iron Fist,” sounded like a great title for a Kung Fu movie from the 70s or 80s (in fact, it probably is). Later when I began to try other MMOs I found the name “Weakness” to be unavailable most of the time and so more and more I began using “Ironweakness” instead.

However it wasn’t just convenience that drew me to that name, I had lots of other rad “weakness” names to choose from. What I liked about “Ironweakness” was that it conveyed the fundamental reason I chose the name “Weakness” in the first place by illustrating the truth that there is strength in being weak from the biblical perspective, an “iron weakness.” When Paul says that he will “boast” in his weaknesses, he’s stating a core theological truth of the Christian faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that men and women are sinful by nature and no amount of religious tradition, moral living, or generous philanthropy will erase the consequences of that sin in the same way that most judicial systems will not pardon murder simply because you helped a lot of old ladies cross the street. Freedom from the consequences of sin is found only in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The crucifixion was a substitutionary death, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6) and as such, forgiveness of sins is not for those who try to earn it by their own merit but rather for the person who “believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). In other words, if you want to stand before God on your own two feet, you’ll be judged accordingly and fall short, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However if instead you will “boast in your weaknesses,” and rely on the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, the righteousness of Jesus Christ will be your own righteousness and regardless of guilt, you will be found blameless before God. So the weakness the apostle Paul urges Christians to boast in is a weakness that leads to strength; not personal strength, but the imputed power of Christ.

And that’s why I continue to use the moniker “Ironweakness.” It’s an affirmation that I really am weak and helpless in so many ways—especially spiritually— however I am not a hopeless victim of my own weakness. I am by the grace of God able to overcome any circumstances or shortcomings, but because my victories will always be built on borrowed strength I will have no grounds for boasting in myself, only in my weakness and in the generous God “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 2:27-31

Advertisements

#NBI2015Safari: And So It Ends

My final entry in Murf’s #NBI2015Safari will bring us back to where it all began, the high fantasy world of Tyria. My first entry was a self-portrait featuring a Sylvari ranger from Guild Wars 2. It is the image I use for most social media services as my personal avatar. Today’s submission is a companion to that self-portrait; it is the image that I use as a header here at Waiting For Rez, on Twitter, and a few other places as well. Whereas the self-portrait reflects a point of decision— whether to continue a life of adventure or retire to relative safety— this image illustrates the beauty one might find if one chooses to press on.

ranger7

Our Sylvari adventurer has continued his journey through the Brisban Wildlands, leaving the path of safety for darker roads. During his wanderings, he discovers a hidden grove within the jungle, forgotten by the outside world. Carefully traversing a narrow passage of damp, moss covered stone, Weakness emerges into a place of oversized, luminous fungi and still waters. He stops to rest for a while. There is no danger here, only the violence of beauty; a sanctuary undisturbed by the industrial machinations and savage wars of the “civilized” races. It reminds Weakness of the Pale Tree, or rather as he imagines the Dream would have been, were it unaffected by the Nightmare.

Weakness was born into conflict. His transition from the Dream to the Waking was a tumultuous birth, warring against tooth and claw for a chance at life— what should have been his by natural right.

“No one should have to battle for the right to be born,” he thinks, “an opportunity at life should not have to be earned.” The wind ripples the waters at his feet, silently affirming the ranger’s indignation and loss.

It is this thought that steels his resolve, the injustice of never knowing the Dream-that-was or a peaceful Waking. He will fight the Nightmare Court. His world may be tainted by the narcissistic cruelty of Sylvari twisted by the Nightmare, but that does not mean it must remain that way. Weakness rests cross-legged in that place for several hours, allowing the saturated hues and laughing curves to take root in his heart. This sanctuary will be the image that burns in his mind when he is hopeless, wearied, and afraid. The hidden grove of Auroria’s Remains will be the tattered banner he will carry, the hill he will die on. Should he live to see the dragons destroyed and the Sylvari people saved from themselves, Auroria’s Remains will be the place to which he retires, but not until he secures the right for all Sylvari— for all Tyria— to dwell in a haven of their own choosing as well.

Looking one last time upon the grove, Weakness bids the maiden farewell; he will likely never see her again. Broadsword in hand, he disappears once more into the shadowy crest that hides this sanctuary from the horrors to which he returns.

Dual Wielding: 12x XP in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Dual Wielding: A series featuring two bloggers writing on one topic and answering the question, “If the pen is mightier than the sword, what happens when you dual wield?”

Make sure you don’t miss Kunzay’s take.

After taking a look at what makes for ideal leveling, this week I will be sharing my thoughts on the latest round of 12x XP in Star Wars: The Old Republic. When the return of the XP buff was announced the timing could not have been better. I had purchased the “Choose Your Path” promotion in March which meant my 60 days of sub time would run out shortly after the XP buff had begun, the perfect incentive for remaining a subscriber. I’ll admit, I was excited about the increase in leveling speed. One of my biggest pet peeves with leveling in MMOs is when it is extended unnecessarily in order to retain subscribers or to encourage the purchase of XP boosts. Or both. With the 12x XP buff in SWTOR, characters can be leveled by playing exclusively through the class stories. Not only does this make the process quicker, but it also emphasizes one of the stronger elements in the game: story. However there is a dark side to the XP boost, one that became readily apparent after a few days of playing at the accelerated rate. So today I’d like to list some of the pros and cons of having such an accelerated leveling experience and suggest a better solution.

Screenshot_2015-05-05_13_53_41_577832

Pros

Let’s start with the good stuff. One of the things I look for when leveling in an MMO is for the pacing to be set by the story rather than by a need to prolong experience gains in order to keep players in game. So many MMOs have a ridiculous amount of filler content while leveling. As a result I often lose sight of the main storyline because it can be hours of gameplay stretched out over several days before I get back to the primary narrative. With 12x XP, the class story matches your leveling speed almost perfectly. Currently I’m level 50 and not quite through with my class storyline so it actually appears to outpace the story a little. I’m not sure if that’s because the buff outpaces the questing eventually or if I’ve participated in enough side activities (Flashpoints, Warzones, etc.) to have pushed myself ahead, but whatever the case it’s close enough. Because of the XP multiplier I could navigate from one quest to the next without needing any filler projects to move forward. As a result I was actually able to follow (and enjoy) the Smuggler class story.

Secondly, the accelerated pace of 12x XP works well with the time I have available to play MMOs. Normally I would have to play a game exclusively for weeks on end in order to make any kind of progress toward end game however with the buff I am able to play SWTOR 2-3 days a week and still feel like I’m moving forward at a fair clip. This may be a personal character flaw, but there have been times when I have moved on from a game because the leveling process simply took too long and I began to feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. With a limited amount of time to devote to gaming and an interest in two or three titles at a time it is in my favor to make tangible progress with short play sessions.

Screenshot_2015-03-31_20_16_59_610198

Cons

There’s really only one problem with the XP boost, but its significant enough I may turn it off when I start leveling a second character. After a couple of days of speedy leveling I grew disinterested and started playing far less. This was partly due to the fact that I started playing Marvel Heroes and Trove again, but it also had to do with the lack of variety in my play sessions compared to when I first started playing SWTOR. For the first 35 levels of SWTOR I spent my time in Flashpoints, Warzones, Galactic Starfighter, and questing equally. Yes, this broke up the questing and storyline a little but it was at my discretion and kept the gameplay interesting. However once the XP boost was in place I avoided these other activities because the XP rewarded was marginal compared to the class story.

Yes, I could have continued to pepper my play sessions with the occasional Flashpoint or Warzone and perhaps the second time through I will, but it’s hard to argue with efficiency when your goal is to reach the new Shadow of Revan content. For now I’m going to press on with the class quests and mostly ignore other activities so that I can get to Yavin, Rishi and Ziost but with subsequent characters I am going to either turn off the XP buff or try breaking up the class quests with other activities and not worry about out leveling the zones. I may also I try turning the buff on at times and off at others and find a happy medium. Regardless, I don’t think I could level another character using only class story quests.

Screenshot_2015-04-21_21_48_33_990979

Concluding Thoughts

Instead of the semi-permanent 12x XP boost I would prefer the double XP that Bioware has offered in the past for short durations. What I like about the double XP event is that every activity gets a small XP boost which means you can continue to play diversely but a little more quickly than usual. For the most part you are able to play through the planetary quests, class quests, and a few other odds and ends without drastically out-leveling content. Even if you do get ahead you can easily get your character level back on track because of the short duration of the event. In other words, I prefer things the way they already were, though perhaps with more frequent double XP events.

There’s one other alterative, one I don’t actually expect to happen in SWTOR or any other traditional MMO. That option would be for studios to make a drastic shift away from vertical progression and introduce new content that is playable by characters of (almost) any level. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Trove and Marvel Heroes and the feature I appreciate most in both of these games is that “end game” or the equivalent is introduced midway through the leveling process and scales in difficulty with your progression. The whole reason I am in a rush to reach 55-60 in SWTOR is because I want to see the most recent content while it is still current. If I could somehow participate in the latest patches while I level I wouldn’t be in such a hurry.

World of Warcraft made an attempt at this with the instant level 90 boost. SWTOR is using an XP boost as a means of catching up players. But neither is the best solution; yes, they allows new players to experience current content rather than waiting months to reach the appropriate level but it devalues all of the old content in order to do so. Personally I like leveling as a benchmark of character growth, so I don’t want it to go away all together. What I would like is for characters or content to scale so that after a few tutorial levels (like the first 10 in Trove) I can continue leveling anywhere in the world. Unfortunately that’s just not possible with a linear, story driven MMO like SWTOR.

So is 12x XP a good thing or not? I would argue that it serves its purpose so in that sense, yes it is beneficial. However I think it’s a fix applied to an outdated system; the system itself should be better. The issue isn’t whether players should have the option to bypass so much content by leveling quickly, the problem is gating content by level in the first place. Some gating is necessary in order to give players time to familiarize themselves with a class (tutorials) or to allow studios to do some linear storytelling. However both should be done sparingly so that players can move more freely from zone to zone, story to story, expansion to expansion, growing their characters in power without being limited to a single linear path that takes a hundred hours to complete. 12x XP is a wonderful band aid, but it’s still a fix applied after the fact. I would rather see more games like Trove and Marvel Heroes or even Guild Wars 2, where character level is still a mark of progress and relative power but not a gate restricting players from new content. Remove the gate and there will no longer be a need for XP boosts.