Waves: Discussion on how to support alliance mates through emotional aspect of E&P

So I know I generally (always) post light-hearted, comedic musings that are generally intended for laughs, befuddling the forum goers who don’t know better or just generally being sarcastic.

But there are certain topics in relation to a person’s well-being that I feel need a light shone on with a positive discussion in an effort to educate and expand people’s empathy for others.

As such, I struggle with depression and I will specify that there’s not one catch-all way that people with depression struggle. For me it manifests through thoughts of an overwhelming weight of (irrational) responsibility, desire to not let anyone down/disappoint people and general feelings of inadequacy because of various factors in my life.

Like with anything there are days where I’m totally in control and overwhelmingly confident/assured in myself but there are other days when even playing Empires & Puzzles and having an off war/bad titan hit/consecutive raid losses or spending beyond my preset budget chasing a hero (Guardians challenge I’m looking at you) can shake me to my core and drudge up feelings that may compel me to not interact with anyone ever again and in the most extreme cases not wanting to exist (imagining the world, my alliance, my friends and family would all be better off if I was not here).

With that baseline established of my personal perspective of depression rooted in feelings of failure, I wanted to open a conversation with the community to see how you recognize (signs, tells, etc.) if someone is floundering in this quicksand of despair and how you help this alliance mate get out of the darkness.

As with anything there are differing views in this world but I’d like to use this medium to have healthy, productive discussions with the understanding that this game’s primary objective is to be a point of relaxation from the rigors of everyday life.

I’d like to place some guidelines for the thread to try and keep it from devolving into an angst-ridden yelling match.

  1. Please remember that this thread is to discuss the topic as a whole and should not be considered as free license to delve extensively into one’s personal struggles with mental health. This is not an attempt to dissuade discussion but rather prevent pointed attacks being made on individuals who do/do not struggle with these matters.

  2. There are opinions that individuals just need to “toughen up” and generally discount this whole topic of discussion. While everyone may not be on the same page, you too are invited to post in here if the point is substantiated with something that can be discussed (without devolving into a flag frenzy). I have established enough support systems in my life that any detrimental comments against me won’t set me back.

  3. No personal attacks (and general forum rules are obviously in effect)

  4. It is encouraged to post potential E&P gaming triggers/traps (poor war performance, overspending, etc.) that people may be susceptible to falling into as well as any recommendations on coping/overcoming them.

In the end, we’ve seen that the forum can rally and be a force for good (albeit rarely). I hope we can champion a generally healthy gaming community here at Empires & Puzzles, while encouraging individuals with struggles and broadening our thoughts.

Edit: I know English may not be the primary language for many in the community. I hope the message can transcend the boundaries of language and reach those near & far as they need to hear it.

Moderators

Tagging the mods to ensure they can flag/shut down the thread in case it goes awry: @zephyr1 @littleKAF @DaveCozy @JonahTheBard @Rook



If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone. The forum maintains a list of resources here:

Suicide Prevention & Mental/Emotional Health Crisis Resources

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A war loss, a bad titan hit or not being able to clear out an “easy” war opponent on request - these are all things not in your direct control so I’d say to anyone who feels ashamed for such things to keep their chin up because the boards are not yours to dictate!

You did your best and that’s all anyone could ever ask for.

Sure there are sometimes silly mistakes we all could have done better but everyone makes mistakes; it’s human to make mistakes. It would be unnatural not to make a mistake.

We all have room for improvement but don’t let the mistakes define you.

If anyone tells you differently I’d suggest leaving your alliance and joining a friendly encouraging bunch.

At our alliance I always say even if we lose the war I’m still proud of everyone for putting their best efforts and getting in all their hits

If you can’t get in all your hits because life gets in the way don’t be ashamed either, just explain the situation to your alliance.

If they are judgemental or you feel you need to get away from deadlines or requirements, find another more relaxed alliance :slight_smile:

Hope this is the train of thought you had in mind @voidstrike

Thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us, God bless you.

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To clarify, my current alliance is excellent in this capacity but not everyone is lucky enough to have alliances like this. But this advice is invaluable because staying in a toxic alliance environment can exacerbate these anxieties & stressful situations for some players.

Thanks for replying @FrenziedEye and understanding the general direction I’m hoping this conversation can go.

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How brave you are @voidstrike for bringing this issue to the fore.

Regular communication and / or just checking up on alliance mates, who are quieter than normal or you haven’t spoken too for a while, I think is important. RL happens and if you don’t get to know your alliance mates, it’s so easy to assume it’s because they’re not trying or don’t care :frowning_face:.

Being ready to listen rather than jump to conclusions, a great piece of advice too :thinking:. .

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Just a :heart: touched by this post.

Thanks, @voidstrike (you brought tears to my eyes)

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A few additions

Firstly, here’s an international list of support agencies collated by @zephyr1 quite recently

Crisis Resources

My personal tip is this superb yet accessible book

This particularly resonates and des with this kind of feeling

As someone who has dealt with a number of suicides and dozens of attempts, my simple advice would be to be aware of changes in the volume of conversation coming from players who are normally chatty. People who are feeling low often drop off the radar and sometimes a friendly ‘are you ok?’ is invaluable.

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I know for a fact I have one member in my alliance that deals with depression and when he was going through a rough patch around the holidays I offered to listen. I also made some suggestions on things he maybe able to try to help work through the thoughts going on in his head. And I myself have had my struggles with it.
As far as not good war performances I always tell people bad boards happen and use my own bad hits to let them know they are not alone there. I also make sure everyone knows if they need help with team setups I am more then happy to try and help.
All in all i just try to be a listening ear and offer advice where i can.

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I don’t have much to add but if anyone ever wants an ear to listen or someone to vent or chat to, hit me up on Line.

My ID is Guvnor81

Otherwise, just here to support @voidstrike & this thread.

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A close relative of depression is anxiety. I know this game can induce it!

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Thanks for a topic is worth discussing.

If anyone is in a toxic or negative Alliance they should get out. There are simply too many positive teams to join.

I would also recommend to any alliance to establish and use line, discord or Facebook for interpersonal communication with your alliance mates. The in game chat is limited to superficial and sometimes overly shallow banter. The developers could definitely enhance this aspect of the game but would never be able to offer what these services do.

Lastly, mental health treatment is worth investing your time and resources into. Simple solutions can be found with the help of professionals. Cognitive behavior therapy is not something that comes naturally to us humans but thankfully there are many people who are trained and compassionate to help us all.

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@voidstrike, interesting subject as I was recently dealing with one of my alliance members feeling she was letting us down in AW. She is a relatively new player but can do amazing things with 2/3* hero’s plus she’s fearless…to the point of taking on teams that she cannot beat unless the stars aligned.

She became quiet and uncommunicative and withdrew from interacting with the group. After some gentle prodding she let us know she was sorry for letting us down and would be leaving as to not let it happen again.

We happen to save all our war results on Line and I pulled up more than a few we would have lost without her points there. It was a surprisingly large number. We also explained that no one was expecting big scores, she did her job and did it fantastically.

Well she is still with us and now thriving again. It would have been a huge blow to lose her, one she still doesn’t completely realize.

I now try to do this with all the new teams when they join AW, it helps. I make sure that every alliance member understands that their overall scores means absolutely nothing. When they take out that Blue tank and I’m out of green hero’s…well they did the hard part of that fight.

Many players seem to have a lot of social anxiety and feeling that they played badly starts all kinds of thoughts going through their heads. At the end of the game if you have used all your flags and done the best that you could, what more could anyone ask?

Sometimes it’s hard to pick them out but one sure tell us that where they used to engage in the group chatter they stop. You’ll see they are on and they won’t respond. It’s hard to talk with them one on one in the group chat, which is one of the reasons we use Line, so we aren’t putting them on the spot in front of the entire group. We do not make Line mandatory because I’m positive we would lose more than a few good players due to the fore mention social anxiety aspect.

But everyone has their purpose. We are all here for a reason. We may never know what that reason is but I’m sure that person you helped does, and will always remember you for it.

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Heavy and wise as expected from @PapaHeavy

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Wow. Great post. Thanks - it will be appreciated by many.
This is a difficult one when in a “game”. But for me some of the signs would be a change in behaviour, attitude and/or communication.
In such circumstances I have always tried to reach out to an individual in chat or line etc. Always there to listen and provide bespoke support (everyone is different).
Sometimes its just a case of listening or showing empathy or providing advice and/or information or even just a bit of encouragement.
My biggest concern is that for some people, sometimes vulnerable people, this game can become an addiction and they will pay, pay and pay some more to either be the best, to win more or even just to have that new shiny hero.

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I think it is important for everyone playing this game to be very mindful of the pressure that comes with being part of a group or alliance. I am not only talking about toxic environments where results are king and bad performances, whether RNG or your personal effort, are called out and shunned. These kind of alliances should always be avoided. I am talking mainly about the subconscious effect of the hive mind present in every alliance.

Whether people realize this or not every alliance, no matter how laid back and friendly, excerts pressure on its members to do better, to be better. Not because it is expected or even demanded but because of the bond you form with eachother and your personal drive to help these people as much as you can. Inadvertently you will get sucked in to this game and that brings with it a certain amount of peer pressure that will undoubtadly become taxating on your real life as it depletes not only your financial resources but also your time and your mental state. Your desire to help your alliance grow will push you in to spending more time and money on the game while at the same time increasing the pressure you put on yourself to succeed. Time and money that you do not always have or may need for your real life.

A recent example of something which captivates this issue was the offer where you could send gems to your alliance members. While everyone may share gems out of kindness and to help others it is very important to realize that your sending gems, while a nice thing to do, will put pressure on others to return the favor even when they may not be in a position to spend anything on this game. They feel guilty that they are getting something and don’t or can’t give back. Inadvertently, by doing something you would deem kind, you may be making people feel guilty or worse, pushing them in to spending when they shouldn’t be.

This is a very tangible example but this goes further than gems. That war that was lost because you missed some flags, the titan that got away because your hits just won’t cut it. By positively pushing eachother to kill titans, win wars you pressure others in to spending more time and/or money, even if this is done in a great alliance where noone minds if you miss a hit or screw up an attack. It isn’t because you don’t have a negative reaction to any of these that the people in question aren’t mentally impacted by them. It sin’t because you don’t mind that others might think that you do but are too shy to adress the issue.

There is very little you can do about this issue other than openly acknowledge its existance and try to knock down the illusion that all you want to do is win. Engage in small talk, an alliance is more than just AW and killing titans. Skip titans, Rather than trying to push for that kill every single time skip a titan every so often to let the pressure off and catch yoru breath. Switch it up during AW. Just for the fun of it put out mono defences. You know you will lose but that is the point. Show members that it doesn’t always have to be about winning. Laugh about your own failings. If you get a big fat 0 on an attack just laugh about it in the chat, especially as a senior member. Be democratic : Your best players have the best purple tanks but your weaker players have poor purple tank options? Don’t force purple on everyone all the time. Your weakest player may want to run his kasshrek so let them decide tank color once in a while. Be humble, don’t overly flaunt your pulls or spending. It idolizes the concept and can be tough on those who can’t afford to spend as you do.

In short, Be mindful that if your alliance is focused on winning that even despite being openminded and not beating down players that underperform that there is still that pressure to perform. Sometimes it is best to just focus on a fun experience than a winning one.

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This is also a clever part of the business model. There are $s to be had in cooperation as well as competition.

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This is just a video reminder about empathy and why its great:

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I may split this response in two points to provide appreciation for support & further the discussion by addressing some of the advice/direction I’ve seen in responses.

Thanks @Sarah2 . This post has been developing for about a month now with consultation and guidance from the mods (shout out to: @zephyr1 @Rook @littleKAF @DaveCozy ) to frame the discussion in the best light so this topic doesn’t turn into a flame war nor is not engaging enough to where it falls to wayside and is lost in the graveyard of old threads.

@FabulaSumus :heart:

@JonahTheBard Thank you for the resources. I am looking forward to reading the book by Dr. Cantopher. I am glad that there was a piece that resonated with you, the things that unite us are generally greater than those that divide us.

@Twist Thank you for being a compassionate alliance member. Not everyone is nor does everyone go out of their way to make sure others are well (we usually get too caught up in ourselves).

@Guvnor Thanks mate. Appreciate your availability and voice of support for this conversation.

@princess1 You are absolutely correct. Thank you for introducing the aspect of anxiety into this discussion as well.

Killen-time Thank you for the recommendations of more efficient communication methods available for players in this game. I do believe line/discord/facebook/etc. means of conversation can help quell the desire for isolation that can manifest. Thanks for also addressing investing into mental health. It is an underappreciated/stigmatized topic and the more we normalize it, the more likely people who need the help will seek the help.

PapaHeavy Thank you for sharing this instance, which unfortunately is probably common across many alliances in this game but not everyone has someone like you to dispel the lies people tell themselves. Overjoyed to hear that support has yielded positive growth.

JGE Thank you for your words, I hope even if this is not appreciated, it does prove beneficial to the community.

Impiousbe Thanks for bringing up the topic of subconscious pressures that inadvertently are placed on teammates through factors which are intended for good.

Natural-Lite Thanks for the video. I think it will only help promote empathy in the community.

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@Killen-time @PapaHeavy @JGE @Impiousbe @Natural-Lite (tags from previous post limited by forum parameters)

Here are some items mentioned by the replies so far that I believe can/should be explored:

Sometimes I believe it is important for leadership other team members to express this to prevent players from spiraling down. I can do my best but seeing myself at the bottom of war scores in losses triggers self-defeatist of “if only I was/did better then we would’ve celebrated a war victory,” especially in close/narrow losses.

Excellent advice. I’m naively optimistic. I’d rather believe the best in people and be told by that person my faith was misplaced than assume the worst in someone and not address it with them.

I think for alliance members who are conversational then display a shift in demeanor it is easier to identify these symptoms. However, we have alliance members who generally are reserved and as such it is much harder to determine if the silence is just business as usual or if they are struggling now. Any thoughts or ideas on other means of identifying this (other than noting extended inactivity)?

This is very true and valid point.
In reference to the gems example: I know during the gems “gift” sale that was going on our alliance made a point to state multiple times in game that no one should feel compelled to give because other members are. But it is also rings to the subconscious pressure you’ve noted that even if we state the “no strings attached” moniker to everyone’s gift once you see a majority of the alliance giving, you too feel like you can’t be the only one not giving.

For me personally my depressive states caused by the game are because I thoroughly enjoy everyone in my alliance and we win together and lose together, but in the losses I start thinking every negative thing about how if I was better, if they had an “elite” player instead of me they would’ve been overjoyed with victory not defeat.

Due to progress I’ve made personally, whenever I feel this way instead of just leaving the alliance without saying a word, I would go to someone in leadership and ask if I needed to leave the alliance I could for the better of the collective. Every conversation has been met with the leaders reaffirming my value and the joy I provide to the alliance, which cleared all the dark thoughts that started festering from whatever triggered this emotion.

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Thank you! While this thread brought on a flood of tears, it also opened my eyes to allowing the beast of anxiety to get the better of me while playing. I just left an alliance, not because.of their behavior, they were awesome, but because of my twisted perceptions. Maybe one day I can return there. Blessings.

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Glad to see this post.

It’s one of those things where you never know who is going through the worst time of their life and a game, which is supposed to be a fun escape, becomes the thing that sets them off.

Personally going through a pretty awful time myself, to the point where I question doing anything at all (much less the game), and there are certain things that set me off.

  • As a leader, member attrition
  • A run of bad boards in war/titan/raids
  • the dullness of farming
  • having to enforce minimums in my alliance by shuffling members down.

A little kindness always goes a long way. This is why I hold such a strong stance against drama and refuse to tolerate anything less than a supportive environment in my alliance. Even if it isn’t recognized, this game is a giant community and melting pot. Kindness transcends distance & language.

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