Friday, April 11, 2014

10 Questions - Jason "Aeston" Rosa

Jason "Aeston" Rosa 

Photo by Jesse Gifford
How long have you been playing?
My first event was in the fall of 1997.
Tournaments of Rhiassa, serendipitously enough. For the first couple of years I tended to hit only Southern/Chimeron events. In 1999 I went to my first Tournaments of Creathorne and afterwards was when I started playing a lot more frequently.

How has the game changed since you've been playing?
Not all that much, really, in the scheme of things. Nations, of course, come and go, rules and spells change, combat gets more refined, new people join, old friends fade away. But the core of what gives our community identity really feels more or less the same. I think any differences that people perceive are mostly cosmetic, or seem to exist because of how they have changed as individuals, both in maturity and in their role in the game. The Realms is the Realms. The soul of it endures.

Who have you learned the most from?
I would have to credit several different people for helping me become the person that I am today. My first role model was Jared Buzby (McKrye) who demonstrated to me an unfaltering kind of leadership that pervaded his very existence. Sean Veale (Wil) instilled within me the conviction to serve the community constantly and with quiet humility. Steve Johnson (Duncan) showed me the potential that each of us has to push the game forward though our hard work and dedication. Tom Johnson (Blade) instructed me and inspired me to take combat more seriously and try to make a name for myself in the martial aspect of the game. Lots of other old names as well. Seth Flagg, Keith Gerrard, Kathy Horn, Kathy Journey, Jarrod Marshal, Alex Newbold... The people of my generation did not lack for good role models. I truly hope that young people today can say the same.

What was your best moment IC?
That's a tough one to nail down after so many years of playing. I'm rather certain that I've forgotten more than I remember about the past sixteen years. Certainly ranking high among them is the day I was asked to kneel and join the ranks of the Knights of the Realms. But more so than even that singular moment in time, I have to put in more general terms that the current era is a series of best moments for me, each greater than the last. Leading Rhiassa, teaching, and learning from my squires, and working together with everyone to accomplish the goals of our nation. I've never loved the Realms more than I have in these past few years, standing beside my closest friends united in purpose, able to celebrate our accomplishments together.

What was your best moment as a NPC/EH/Player?
Again, a challenge to nail down. I'll have to beg everyone's patience and mention a couple.

First, a humorous memory that has stayed with me over the years. There was an event at Sterling. Ian Struckoff was the Eventholder and it had something to do with his Ice Mage plot. I remember that the players were trying to reach an important NPC, a princess, played by Jessica Osio and I was playing some kind of named mook that was her guard. I was using a 6'6" popsicle-stick at the time, and it was a very heavy one. Even heavy for the 1" PVC we used at the time. So I'm standing in front of the princess, guarding her in the open field, and two archers, Twenaria and Aelias, both shoot an arrow at me simultaneously. Having a great weapon, I didn't have too many options available to me for defense, so I, in a obviously ridiculous snap decision, made like Donatello and just spun the weapon in front of me like he did in probably every episode of the cartoon. I couldn't possibly have had any expectation that it would actually do anything effective. Oddly enough, it did. Both arrows were hit and deflected away by the spin; I couldn't guess at the odds of it happening a second time. Kelly and Nate looked at one another. Looked at me. Looked at one another again, and then booked it as I roared and ran after them.

And again, in a more general sense, I need to mention UCONN SMAC. SMAC practice has been in existence now for almost ten years. The time really does fly. As many of you know, it started with little more than the six members of Vinehaeven and a few local Wasterunners. For the first couple of years it wasn't much beyond that. Then, in 2006, we participated in the campus involvement fair for the first time. The response was greater than I could have ever imagined. Practice went from less than a dozen people to regularly more than thirty. Members of the community from around Connecticut, from Massachusetts, even as far as New Hampshire, starting regularly attending and spending the time to teach others and enjoy what was quickly becoming the largest practice in the community. The years rolled slowly by and as each one came we saw more freshman join the club and the best of them stay with us throughout all the years they were UCONN students, and beyond. Our community of students, alumni, and guests from around New England grew more and more. I look around the Realms now and see the people who are members of that community. I look at the people who have grown into exceptional players that started their tenure first on the fields at UCONN practice. It is extremely gratifying and supremely humbling to have been even a small part of what has made SMAC exist and what has helped it to endure. As I said in the last question, my greatest moments are not things of the past. They are the new moments I am a part of every day that I drive up to UCONN to fulfill my role in our community here.

Photo by Robyn C Nielsen

What would you like to see changed or developed more in game?
Mentoring. There are a handful of formal mentoring relationships in our community right now. The most obvious is, of course, the knight/squire relationship, but also quite prevalent are formal relationships with apprentices of different varieties. A fairly large number of us, commendably, have taken it upon ourselves to convey our skills and knowledge to the next generation. In my eyes, however, some gaps have developed in our system for doing so. I would ask us as a community to be mindful, therefore, of the following advice.

Be very aware of what it is you have to teach. Unfortunately, the community has seen examples of knights taking squires or masters taking apprentices because they believe that it is their societal role to play, without also having an understanding of what skills or philosophies they wish to teach or how to go about doing so. This can lead to stagnation in the teaching relationship as mentor struggles to come up with tasks that are valuable, goal oriented learning experiences, and it can cause mentees to lose interest or look elsewhere for instruction. I would ask all mentors and would-be mentors to give careful thought to what they want their squires or apprentices to learn and the best way to teach that information while constantly engaging and challenging their mentors to push themselves to greater heights. To do anything less is a disservice to both of you.

What advice would you give new players?
Get to know everyone. The people of the Realms are an incredibly diverse collection of individuals. There are a lot people out there that are probably a lot like you. Similar upbringing, interests, motivations, and goals. But there are also a lot of people out there who are very different from you. It is to your own detriment if you only stick to the people you know and the social groups that you are comfortable with. Every person in this game has a perspective that is uniquely their own, singular experiences that have shaped their role in our community and how they conceive of it. Learn about all of those types of people. Recognize that all of those perspectives are valid and are born of a wisdom that is singular to their owner. Treat every individual with courtesy. Make friends.

What do you love most about the game?

Its interesting. I don't think I would have been able to answer this question a few years ago. Of course I would have been able to tell you what I loved about the Realms then, but it is only in recent years that I have started to understand the true value of this game that we play together. Sooner or later, we all get to that phase of our life that society has dubbed "adulthood". It means a lot of different things; a career, a house, a family, a set of obligations that, at the very least, have some impact on our recreational time. For some people in this world, the beginning of adulthood also marks the end of everything that does not fit into our culture's narrow definitions of such. They eschew old friends, hobbies, the passions that defined them when they were younger men and women. Certainly their lives can be equally as rich and fulfilling without these things, but I still feel that there is a sadness in that loss.

And in contrast, I look around the Realms at our community here. I see men and women who have build fantastic careers and find joy in their work. But they still get to be heroes on weekends. I see men and women who own houses and deal with the tremendous burden of their upkeep. But they still plan events and through them tell stories. I see men and women who have gotten married, have had children, and who have created loving, caring places for them to grow. But they still hold their friends and surrogate families of community members close to their hearts.

The Realms is a pastime that most of us fell into when we were young, and spent a great deal of our youth pursuing. But it is also an avocation that can follow us later into our lives. More than that, it is a place where our role can change appropriately along with our age. Somewhat through happenstance, we have created a game that has grown along beside us as we have become "adults". And, best of all, it helps to keep us young in the process.

Who would you like to see the next interview be with?
Age before beauty. I think it would be nice to hear from some of the other 97'ers that came into the game the same time I did, and see how their perspectives have changes since we were "kids". It's crazy how many of us are still around. Dave Martin, Ian Pushee (his interview can be read here), Jay Bonci, Dave Hayden, Amber Fox, Karen Veale, Matt Daviult, those are a few who come to mind at the moment.

Anything else you'd like to take the opportunity to put into print?
Throughout all of the years that I have been playing, I've watched people draw lines in the sand. Most people choose to define this community in terms of "us" and "them". I'm sure it began long before I started playing and it will, no doubt, continue for as long as the Realms exists. I'm guilty of it too, certainly more often than I should be.

But in the end, we should try to remember that we all have more in common with one another than we have things that set us apart.

We all want the Realms to endure. We all want the Realms to be the best entity it can be. Because we don't always see eye to eye on how to make these wants a reality, we come into conflict with each other. As much as possible, we should try to make sure that our conflicts and disagreements come from a place of tolerance and mutual respect.

We all care deeply about the Realms and what it has given us. We've all been given the opportunity to grow in ways that we might never have otherwise have found. I know that it is true for me and I suspect it is true for most of the people who are reading this article. So when the time inevitably comes again that tempers flare and people reach for hate, try to remember that the source of everyone's anger is the passion we have for the community and what it means to all of us.

1 comment:

  1. So - I've been waiting for this particular interview since I started reading 10 questions with Ranger's. As a little UConn minion, I can assure you: this generation of Realmsies has its heroes as well.