Monday, January 18, 2016

Gamer Girl - Clash of Clans

About a year ago, Eric started playing a new game on his iPad -- Clash of Clans. At the time, I thought it was interesting watching over his shoulder, so I checked it out myself. I didn't really get into it right away, though. Honestly, I can't remember why exactly. I guess it felt too much like Farmville for my liking.

I stuck with it although I was continually annoyed with the behavior of too many of the people in chat and had a sinking feeling I would eventually give up on the whole game altogether. I just couldn't figure it out. On the one hand, it was fun to build up my base and to attack other people's bases. But I felt like I would never really get anywhere, and I didn't want to talk about it the open chat, and start a shitstorm there, so I just did my own thing in my own haphazard way.

I looked at joining a clan, but most looked like they were either very, very experienced, or they were filled with the same people I was seeing in open chat. Ugh. But I took a chance anyway, and joined one just to see.

My first clan wasn't all that great. The people were mostly OK, but they rarely talked, and never seemed to want to go to war (something you can only do while in a clan). I was frustrated but I continued to level my base up and chatted as often as I could hoping to draw them out. Eventually, one of the more active members left to join another clan, and I followed them. Sadly, as I expected, that clan wanted someone with far more experience that I had (I only had 3 war stars!), and they kicked me out within 2 days. But in that time, I got to witness the power of a well-run clan -- members who supported each other and were actively playing the game -- and I was hooked!
Undaunted, with a taste of what life in a strong clan could be like, I joined another promising-looking clan, and started chatting and asking questions and making suggestions. Within a week I was promoted to co-leader and instructed to feel free to manage war rosters and attacks as I saw fit. I think they were just trying to shut me up, or something, but I didn't care. I was excited!

Over the last couple of months, I've worked to build my clan up, encouraging members to be more active, kicking people who don't meet my expectations, and over-all improving our war record. I mean, we're still mostly losing, but it's always closer than the last war, and I'm pretty happy with that. In the war that is wrapping up this afternoon, we're probably going to lose 39-40, and only because one of their bases is just plain too high for any of us to even make a dent. (I know, because we all tried.)

Weirdly, what started out for me as a casual game has become something I spend quite a bit of time thinking about. I've become that person who looks up strategy tips online and watches attack videos to get ideas. I've even created a spreadsheet to track which clan members have participated in war attacks and how well they did, so I can fine tune the roster for the next war. I have a running list in my head of what items need to be leveled up and in what order to maximize efficiency and strength. I have devised "systems" to deal with the game, which is something I'd never done before outside of a MMO. (OK, fine. This is classified as a MMO, but you know what I mean.)

And as a point of pride, I even had one of the slacker former members tell me to "FUCK OFF" when I kept gently requesting they follow the rules. Ahahahahaha!

There are a couple of weird things about this game I have yet to figure out. Like when unaffiliated people cycle in and out of clans solely for the purpose of donating troops. See, being in a clan gives you a Clan Castle, which allows people to donate troops to you for either defensive or offensive purposes. If you're not in a clan, this option is unavailable. So, it makes sense that people would join a clan to ask for donations and then leave. It's kinda crummy, but it happens and I get why. But then there are the people who show up, donate troops and leave. They never ask for or receive any troops. I can't figure out how that benefits them. And then there are the"Reg and Leave" clans, where folks are expected to join, request troops, receive troops, and then leave. I don't get it. Clearly there a way of playing this game that is still unknown to me.

In addition to the scheduling and efficiency aspects of the game, which get my inner production manager all excited, there are other parts of this game I enjoy as well. The players in Clash of Clans are from all around the world. Even though it can also be frustrating when people don't speak the same language (I've gotten pretty good at using Google Translate to convey basic information), it's cool to meet people from Croatia or Japan.

That brings me to another interesting thing I've noticed: most people assume I'm a young dude. I have to laugh when someone calls me "bro." I once had a conversation with some teenaged kid who just couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that I'm a 40-something year old woman playing this game. But aside from that, my experience in clan chat has been pretty nice. Once in a while some jackass joins and then spews some grossness, but I just kick them out and keep rolling. Well, I mean, after making fun of them in chat first.

It has been surprisingly rewarding to see how far my clan has come over the last couple of months -- we've attracted a couple of new players who are active and supportive, helping to bring our record up from the basement. I sincerely hope this trend continues and each new member helps us to attract more members, eventually snowballing into a new, active and powerful clan. We'll see.

Until then, I'll continue leveling up my base, stealing gold and elixir from other people, and trying to improve in my war attacks. Oh, and having fun. It's a game, after all. It's supposed to be fun, right?

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