Wings Over Atreia: Drama llama -- DUCK!

Wings Over Atreia header
Hey, I warned you long ago that music influences everything I do! (If you haven't heard The Llama Song, I highly recommend Googling it!)

More than just a nod to one of my favorite songs, the title is a tip off that this week will involve another episode of our favorite I-wish-it-only-happened-to-someone-else show: Daevas of Our Lives. Yes folks, despite the the attempts of many -- though unfortunately not all -- to avoid the steaming piles left on the roads in the wake of the dreaded Drama Llama, sometimes someone flings the stuff around and you just can't dodge fast enough to avoid the splatter. And that smell doesn't disappear when you log out.

A couple of weeks ago, Wings Over Atreia took a look at relationships within Aion. As pointed out then, not all relationships within game or legion are bad, but the propensity for drama is certainly higher. Those who share too much personal information soon find that the situation becomes uncomfortable for them -- or others -- when things start going wrong. And nothing feeds a hungry Drama Llama like a relationship gone bad.

So don some rain gear (or maybe a Hazmat suit) and venture past the cut if you dare for this week's episode of Daevas of Our Lives -- The Break Up.

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We all know that people tend to grow close in legions. In fact, the more time you spend with anyone, the more attached you become. And let's face it, some of us spend more time in Atreia than we do at work! If you spend hours leveling, doing instances, and hunting the enemy with the same group of people, bonds are bound to grow and develop into something more, whether it is just camaraderie in the trenches, deep friendships outside of game, or even something more. Some of the closest people in my life were first met in a world of pixels, so trust me when I say I am not advocating avoiding these bonds -- they are inevitable. However, I am advocating avoiding the fallout when the Drama Llama pile hits the fan.

Aion screenshotThree's a crowd

Probably the most notorious of Drama Llama feeding grounds is the love triangle. Oh, you know variations on the story: Two people in a legion are a couple, then another person becomes close to one or the other (or even both), and soon one-half of the initial couple is jealous of the time and attention said addition gets. Perhaps no one is actually in a relationship yet, though not for lack of trying on someone's part. Either way, the dynamic is there and causing strain. Unresolved, this escalates until all Asmodae breaks loose within the legion!

If you thought the love triangle was a pain to deal with, wait until the actual break-up. More closely resembling a nuclear fallout -- especially when Cowhands are involved -- this event usually turns into a quagmire of he said/she said accusations, none-of-our-business personal revelations, and outright attacks that everyone who logs in gets dragged into. The fights are played out in legion chat, group channels, forums, voice programs, and in extreme cases, even LFG chat (ask anyone on Israphel who had to listen to the run-down of an ex who gloated about getting a well-known community member arrested). Oh, how those steaming piles fly! Think you can avoid the splatter?

While many people are good-hearted and want to lend support, the virtual world medium is just not the place; you simply cannot even truly know the real situation let alone intelligently pick a side. And Seraphim Lords forbid if you choose to support the wrong side! Don't think trying to lend some semblance of support to both sides will help either -- I tried this and got both factions foaming at the mouth in my general direction. I know, just call me Balaur. In some cases, one or all members of said triangle are removed from or leave legion. When that occurs, legions can often settle back into some form of normalcy, but sadly the damage has already been done. The smell lingers and the stains just don't really wash out well: lines were drawn; trust was splintered; feelings bruised or maimed.

Interestingly, love triangles in Aion are relegated neither to love nor triangles; friendships and groups of every shape can display the same behaviors.

Aion screenshotCustody battle

So when a Templar and a Cleric part gaming ways, who gets to keep the Chanter?

Lest you think all drama-laden Aion relationships are about trysts and torrid love affairs, consider this: Some of the most vicious fighting I have seen within a legion is when a certain player is coveted by others. Even when romantic entanglements are removed, people can get downright possessive about "their" tank or "their" cleric. I have known more than one player who, after accepting an invitation to do something with a friend, was barraged with waterfalls of cascading steaming Drama Lama leavings because that "horribly selfish" action caused them to be unavailable to the tantrum-thrower. And we aren't just talking individuals, but whole groups within legions (or simply statics) who throw hissy fits and give serious grief to someone for daring to play how s/he wants. I have read some of the remarks thrown at these players and it shocks me.

Now, I know some of you might just sit back and say, "Well get a backbone wo/man and just tell the group to MuMu off and play with your friend!" But what about when some of the others or members of the legion are friends as well? In extreme cases, I have seen people leave games over such treatment, but most are actually nice people who both want to help and want to be with their friends. The result? They stay in legions for the sake of those they care about while putting up with the BS being heaped upon them by the Dredgion-load. Kudos to those who are Teflon-coated and let the... comments... slide off of them, but again, it still splatters on the bystanders.

The bottom line for that those who have such a problem and subscribe to the mantra that possession is 9/10ths of the law need a good swift kick to wake up and realize that people are not possessions! Stop making people miserable just to get what you want. I know, I know... it really can be like beating a dead Kerub to get those enmeshed in the me-generation philosophies to acknowledge there really is a world outside of themselves. Now, where's me a dead Kerub?

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Avoiding the lasso

So it has happened: A very public break-up is underway, and you, intrepid reader, want to avoid the steaming piles as best you can. Never fear, I will be right there beside you with uber umbrella in-hand; I know it is too much to ask for many people to just act like mature adults and keep their personal affairs private and not involve the rest of us. Unfortunately, there really are not too many ways to deal with this, and some are extreme, so people will not even consider them.

As stated earlier, sometimes one or all of the offenders leave legion, but sometimes they don't. At this point, if the scene is really damaging the fabric of the legion, the best recourse is really to boot those who are really flinging. Sadly, I have witnessed when this wouldn't be considered because said person/people are wanted for their skills, or worse, happens to be the legion leader. Love that "You other members don't really mean jack so put up with or shut up, there's the door" mentality. If that is really the case, maybe leaving really is the best option -- especially if friends all go together.

However, if this choice is too extreme, players can utilize the block option in-game (yes, it does work in legion chat) and many voice programs have mute capabilities for individuals. Whatever you do, do not let yourself be roped into one side or the other in the break-up blowout. Another possibility is to talk over said offenders using very frivolous subject matter, such as the intrinsic artistic value of Peeps swimming in Cool-Whip at beach-side cabanas in Maui. (Apologies if I just offended an actual group.)

And now it's time to end with this week's Ask the Readers: What other options have you employed to successfully dodge the flying Drama Llama droppings? Feel free to share your creative approaches.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.