Previous: Kiss of War, Part I - Virtual Vixens of World War 2
It is ironic that despite playing a game that is targeted at a specific male demographic I find myself in a guild led by a woman. My new guild is called Deviled, our guild tag is EGG, and our guild leader is a Dutch lady named PPT. The guild was a relatively new one and was advertising on zone chat, which prompted me to leave the guild which the game had automatically slotted me in, and join this seemingly more active one. The difference between my first guild and EGG was immediately clear to me, as EGG was far more active, setting up rallies at frequent intervals and joining ones which I set up myself. For the uninitiated, rallies are group efforts to take down a single target, which can either be an NPC or a human player. So if you were not strong to take on an Iron Behemoth, for example, which is a kind of mini-boss on the map, you would set up a rally, others would join it, and together you would take down the target and receive rewards based on the percentage of damage you inflicted in the battle.
I mentioned in my previous post that I was embarrassed at playing such an overtly sexualized game, but for the women in my guild it seemed to be a complete non-issue. I've been playing now for over a month and a half, and the blatant objectification of the commanders has never been raised once in guild chat by any of the female guildies. Since it seemed to be unimportant I stopped caring about it, and just went about the business of playing the game. The only times I balk is when I have to show the game to people in real life, and have to explain that despite the girls in miniskirts and garters, it is actually not a bad game. The response is invariably the same - “sure, mate, I bet it is” followed by an eye roll and a head shake. I have to admit that it's pretty funny, and just take the ribbing in good humor.
Anyway, I continue playing, and again and again I am struck by the game's resemblance to Evony. I am immediately at home gathering resources and upgrading my tech as fast as possible, because I know that the strong eat the weak in these type of games. EGG seems to be filled with cheerful, happy folk who address each other with an easy familiarity, and I soon find out why – most of them have played a similar game before, something called Game of Survival, and they are guildies from that game. In Evony I eventually became the one of the leaders of my guild, and in that game, too, my guild leader was a woman, a Kiwi girl named Aotearea which incidentally is the Maori word for New Zealand. I miss Aotearea – when I left that game I left all the other players behind, not realizing that the bonds that you make online are as real as the ones you make in meat space. People are not disposable, and this is a thing that I as an introvert wish I had learned much earlier in life.
My experience in these types of games is that if I put my head down, learn the game mechanics, and become competent in them I will eventually become a valuable guild member and ascend to a position of responsibility. For now I am content to learn about the new world I am in, and watch the interactions of my new guild. PPT is a cheerful presence, always active on chat and posting regular notices for the guild. Hush is PPT's second, and he lurks in the background, interjecting every now and then with a pithy comment. Kreature seems determined to be the alpha in the guild, and that is fine because he knows what he is doing, as far as I can tell. Banjo and Ace are Canadian pals, Peacewalker is a soldier in real life from Malaysia who just lost a friend in a motorcycle accident, and Tinash hails from India, judging from his city flag and the portrait he uses in Discord. V is the aunt of the guild, and she is a Belgian mother with two kids who drinks excessive amounts of wine.
The first test of this fledgling association occurred when a player named Five Star marched into our guild hive and torched a number of our bases. Each player controls a base, and these bases often congregate into a cluster called a hive in order to lend each other mutual support in PvE and PvP activities. EGG was a new guild filled with low power players, but the raider Five Star was rated over a million in power. Each player has a power number associated with them which reflects the size of their army and the tech level of their cities, and this guy far outstripped any of us. There was not much we could do, and to be honest, I didn't know what the fuck was happening. I had only just learnt how to read the map, and all I could see was a red army marching around our territory, a bunch of cities on fire, and guild chat all abuzz. I scouted Five Star from my starting position, and received no information at all, not realizing that my tech level was too low. All I did was tip off Five Star of my location, and he promptly sent armies my way. Unlike Evony you can see scouts and armies marching on the map in this game (in Evony we just had timers), and I was in a panic as I saw three armies marching towards my little city. Luckily I had a teleport on hand, and I was familiar with their use. Evony utilized the same system, and I was able to teleport to a location north of the EGG hive before Five Star could plunder my city.
That little episode reminded me of my first encounter with a far more powerful player during my Evony days. Dragre was the bane of my first guild, and he was responsible for uniting us, and making me want to become stronger so that I could fight back. I can recall these people because I have a notebook containing the names of my allies and enemies during the time I played Evony, as well as maps and coordinates, all painstakingly written by hand. Kiss of War allows you to do it within the game, which I suppose is a logical evolution for this sub-genre. I had numerous accounts, diplomatic contacts, allies and spies in other guilds. I was heavily invested, but I walked away eventually because it was consuming my life. The coronavirus epidermic is the only thing that made this return possible, but I had no idea that I was coming back to almost the same kind of game I left a decade ago. 10 years ago I wanted to check out some virtual chicks, and instead found a family of like-minded individuals who would prove friendly, loyal and fun to hang around with. We shared common goals, experienced highs and lows together, and developed bonds that were no less real for having been forged in a virtual space.
Evony is still going strong as a game, and in fact advertised itself during the 2017 Super Bowl in a long commercial starring Aaron Eckhart, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Fan Bingbing. It has come a long way from its initial roots as a game which used big breasted maidens to lure players into playing a pay to win Civilization-like MMO clone. Kiss of War is not there yet, but it looks like the developers are trying to follow in its footsteps. Whether it succeeds or not remains to be seen.
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