The players of Nosgoth have some interesting stories to tell about their experience with the game. How can a video game have such an impact on our lives, personality and confidence? Well, Clare has a little bit of a story to tell. All to do with this wonderful thing called Social Anxiety.
This week, my Nosgoth article is taking a slightly different turn. So far we’ve looked at why the game was cancelled and how the community has coped with the loss. This time it’s going to be much more personal as I explain why this game means so much to me.
A little bit of background information first then.
It’s no secret that I have Social Anxiety or Social Phobia as it’s also known. This means I get really anxious in certain social situations such as going outside or talking to people. The year before the Open Beta, I had to drop out of university it was so bad. To make it even worse, my local mental health team discharged me because the one thing they tried didn’t work.
For me, this also extends to online activity. Playing a video game online with constant interactions with other people was a little scary sounding. Playing a team-based game where people would depend on you to do your job? No thanks! Though, I was pretty big on a browser game when I was younger which involved dealing with other players a lot… heck I even started a team and my unicorn waiting lists were pretty damn popular. Yes, I am talking about Howrse… totally don’t have an account still on the “International” server.
It was kinda obvious I’d have to deal with this stuff myself. So I started making rubbish let’s plays on YouTube as a “screw you” to the anxiety. I also joined a Social Anxiety group in real life where we would sometimes meet up or go online and play games together.
So in the few months before Nosgoth, it was pretty bad still and almost anything could be a trigger.
How did I find Nosgoth?
It seems strange that someone with severe Social Anxiety would end up being such a big fan of a multiplayer game. Well, it’s all due to that SA group I was a part of. We were looking for new games to play together and I saw that Nosgoth was entering Open Beta. After seeing the Yogscast play it the year before, I suggested it to the group and we downloaded the game to give it a try.
As we were all new, my anxiety wasn’t as bad and it quickly vanished when I started playing the game. Instead of the anxiety, I actually felt excited for the first time in years. It was like someone flicked a switch on in my brain and suddenly everything felt almost…. okay. For the first time in a long time.
Pretty soon a big problem emerged. My SA group didn’t enjoy the game as much as I did and they wanted to play different games. It left me with a problem. Stop playing this amazing new game or fight for it.
It took a while to fight through the anxiety so I could play the game. It took 10 hours in fact of sitting on the home screen with my cursor hovering over the “Play” button or quickly turning the computer off in terror before the match started. It sounds so silly now but that’s how it originally began.
Eventually, I got placed into a game which was already in progress. It went alright so I stuck around for the next few games by myself. Those games went alright and slowly the anxiety disappeared and I felt pretty good about myself, even offline.
Naturally, this didn’t last forever. As I was a regular player, people began to recognize me and say hello. My reaction: PANIC! and then it would involve trying to come up with a way to say hello back without seeming like an idiot. Then I would freak out because I’d spent too long thinking about it and now everyone in the lobby probably thought I was really rude. Resulting in more stress and anxiety. It was a wonderful cycle as you can tell.
Talking to people online was incredibly difficult at first and it took quite some time to get used to it. It was just as bad when people began to add me as a friend but as I progressed through gameplay hours, I slowly became more comfortable with it. By the end of Nosgoth, it was kinda common for me to be the one to start conversations in chat.
Groups and Teams
I was even involved with a few different groups of people making ESL teams for the ‘pro leagues’ of Nosgoth. Which involves a lot of communication. Jumping into voice chat for the first time (wasn’t just a first for Nosgoth, it’s just not something I’d ever done before to actually play a game properly) was horrible and I failed miserably. BUT. It actually wasn’t that bad. Luckily, that screw up of a first group session wasn’t the end. I didn’t tend to jump into voice chat with lots of people but I still can’t count them all on both hands so that’s something! One of the people from that session is actually my best friend (Colin, he’s on the staff list) now and was someone I played with a lot for Nosgoth.
To continue with the ESL side… it was pretty mixed. The anxiety was pretty bad at first but it did get better for the most part. The first team I was with fell apart (as they often do) but I was pretty content with chilling in lobbies all week then quietly watching the pro leagues at the weekend. It’s surprising how much you learn by watching other people play. Anyway, it was when they introduced the in-game leagues that I finally met my Nosgoth partner AKA Cry me a Reaver/ Elias, he’s an Artist for us now. We were both complaining about ‘bad’ teammates so we teamed up (I think he offered to follow me around as a support Prophet haha) without using voice chat. I can remember so many good times from league matches with him… like pushing and pinning vampires without needing to communicate, fighting a 2 v 4 in ranked with a very nice score despite the loss, claiming victories over top skilled players and being called almost every name in the book for ‘hacking’. Finally, we wanted to start an ESL team but (just like the first team I was in) finding the fourth player was impossible. The game was cancelled just as another duo popped up for us to maybe join forces with. Typical.
Initially, the pair of us wanted to keep the team and move to Rainbow Six Siege/For Honor when it was released but well… the Nosgoth depression hit hard. The reason we wanted to keep the team was so that we’d have something to focus on and to ensure we’d have a game in common still. It’s not quite Nosgoth but games are pretty much the same… unsuccessful attempts at tryharding, salt, laughing, being annoying and failing miserably with the occasional amazing win.
How Nosgoth helped me
In the post Nosgoth world, my anxiety is no longer as bad. Multiplayer games are still a struggle but now I that know it’s possible to ‘win’ against the anxiety. Even leaving the house is much easier now. If things become hard I just focus on remembering things from the game as it gives me something else to focus on. Some might say this is unhealthy however, Nosgoth is one of the few things that I know well and find some courage from.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cured. The anxiety is still there and trying to stop me from living my life. It’s just easier to cope now thanks to this one little game which wasn’t even finished. I’m even a writer today because I wanted some extra money to spend in the game. If it wasn’t for Nosgoth, there would be no Lunawolf Gaming.
It feels strange that a single video game has had such a positive effect on my life but it’s true. I’m not the only one this game has helped. The Nosgoth community is filled with stories about how the game helped them in some way. It’s just a reminder that video games can be more than just entertainment.
The legacy of Nosgoth is a positive one and while the game may no longer exist, it will live on in the memories of those whose lives it touched. Vae Victis!