As you know, I prefer playing Guardians in Rift. Mostly it’s because of the first zone, and a little bit because of character models, but I do read the lore. Quest text, but also all the flavor-lore that is sprinkled throughout the game.
Most people I know on Twitter have embraced the Defiant faction.
So I hear a lot about how much the Guardians suck while reading my Twitter feed. And I find myself getting pretty annoyed by that.
At first I found it really silly…why should I care what someone says about a fictitious faction in a video game?
And then I started thinking about sports. People can and do get into arguments over sports teams, with everyone having their favorites. And granted sports teams are real whereas Rift factions are entirely imaginary, but in practical terms neither has any profound impact on our lives. Unless your livelihood is tied into the success of a sports franchise it really doesn’t matter if your team wins or loses.
So really it’s just as illogical to get bent out of shape over someone talking trash about a sports team as it is to get bent out of shape over someone talking trash about a Rift faction, but it’s accepted among sports fans that yeah, you can get at the fan of another team by going after that team.
And there’s some logic there, too. If your team gets known as being a bunch of thugs, it can start to reflect badly on you… why are you fans of such an immoral bunch of people? If the Guardians are such reprehensible people, why am I a fan of them? Maybe I’m reprehensible, too?
I’ve sided with the Guardians. Over and over I read on Twitter about what jerks “we” are. And it starts to wear on me. I find myself drawing away from people who’re constantly running down the Guardians, just like I find myself drawing away from people who’re constantly running down the New England Patriots (“my” current football team) or the New York Giants (the team my father and brother and I rooted for growing up). I just don’t want to hear “my” guys being shat upon constantly, and I don’t agree with much of what is said.
Granted Trion has been careful to make both sides have their dark moments and bad habits. Neither side is pure good or pure evil.
When you play as the Guardians all the lore makes the Defiant seem vile. And vice versa…I’ve been playing as the Defiant and all the lore makes the Guardians seem vile. But I’ve already been “impressed” with the Guardian vibe, like a duckling first seeing a chicken and deciding that must be its mother.
So even though I’m playing a lot of Defiant now, they aren’t “my” faction… I’m just visiting there.
Now let’s talk religion. I’m totally non-religious. I won’t even say I’m an atheist because that would mean I spent time even considering whether or not there’s a god. I’ve never gone to church, never encounter the clergy. And seeing the reaction to the Guardian’s theological leaning makes me think I did it right. Where did so many gamers develop such hatred for institutional religion, I wonder? That seems to be one of the big sore points among the pro-Defiant sect: that the Guardians have gods that they worship and fear. Of course in the world of Telara gods are very real…they aren’t just a concept. Anyway I must be missing something, having never really been exposed to organized religion, but that aspect of the Guardians really seems to annoy some folk.
I actually see Guardian vs Defiant as more of a Green Energy vs Big Oil battle. The Guardians use the renewable magic in sourcestone to power their world. The Defiants burn the sourcestone (which is holy among the Guardians, giving us a good reason for war). They perform genetic experiments on animals to try to squeeze more production out of an acre of land (with disastrous results). They built the machines that weakened the wards and let Regulus in! Or that’s what I learned playing as a Guardian, anyway.
Guardians, once you get past the sanctimonious generals, are like a bunch of tree-hugging hippies. That’s a role I can wear very comfortably. If you want to keep on running down the Guardians, go ahead. And if you want to talk shit about the New England Patriots, you can do that to. But just remember words have power and influence over people, for good or ill.