Jun 26 • 30M

The Angels In My Eyes

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The Angels In My Eyes

I’m gonna tell you a story. You probably won’t have any idea what I’m talking about. Not because you won’t understand the words or the story, but because this whole concept is wildly foreign to most people. It was foreign to me… just 7 months ago. I’m going to teach you a bit about RP.

RP is Role-Playing. It’s acting and improv… basically. It’s just done, inside a video game. Matter of fact, there’s an entire group of content creators that solely (or primarily) create video game content within the construct of role playing. To show you how big it is… there are video game content creators that make a full time living at role playing. The most common place to role play is within a Grand Theft Auto server. Servers are called “a city” because it is a map that emulates a real city and players (characters) load into the server (city) and interact with each other in and through different scenes.

Think “cops and robbers” but actors in a video game. Most players choose a cop or a “crim” (criminal) to play as. Some players actually have a character that’s a cop AND one who is a crim. They can load in as either… and “act” accordingly.

It’s art. No… seriously… you should watch it sometime. Some of these content creators would go toe to toe with any actor on TV or the big screen. I found myself enthralled with the content around January of this year.

The content creators live stream their content for people to watch, live, subscribe… very similar to a lot of content creators out there. I started watching video game live streams about mid 2020. I was completely sick of the news… social media.. all of it. And I just needed a break. I watched people who played similar games that I liked or played. I started following a creator named Rasta La Vista. Probably a year or so after I started following him, I saw him start playing in this role play game, in a city (server) called Meta World.

I’m going to share a personal journal entry with you in a few minutes and as I read through it, I realized that a lot of it might seem as if I’m talking in code. There’s a different language used when talking in computer game language. Yup. Gamer lingo. I gotta make you hip to some of it … and I’ll do it as I work through my personal entry from June 13th, 2022.

Before I do, I’ll explain one key piece of this story and this newsletter. While you are in a serious RP server, you are not allowed to refer to anything in terms “outside” of the server (city). You don’t say role play, you say Romeo Pasta. You might hear someone say that the “pasta was delicious”… that means that there was some really awesome role play (acting). You don’t say that you are lagging in the server… you say that you have a headache. You aren’t “streaming”, you have “body cam footage” or “your contacts in” OR “your eyes on”. Then, in the rare occasion that you talk about people in your live stream…. A lot of people call em “the voices in my head” or something to that effect… but I refer to them as “the angels in my eyes”.

The goal of the ‘code language’ is to never break character in the game but to effectively communicate with other characters.

This next part was the personal journal entry, edited slightly to make more understandable to any audience. I want to preface this by saying that I had to sort through a dozen different mental, physical and emotional ambushes during this period… this is ONE branch of a very complex emotional season:

June 13th, 2022.

My Meta World Journey

January 2022-June 13th 2020

Sunday, June 5th, 2022 - one of my best friends Drew passed away. Suddenly. Because I’m temporarily disabled, I wasn’t going to be able to make the funeral in Michigan. Crushed.

Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday I was broken. Barely left bed. Couldn’t stop crying.

Wednesday around mid day I saw that my application for Meta World had been accepted. (You have to write a complex character back story to be accepted into a serious RP server. I had applied a week earlier.)

Wednesday night… LATE night. 11/12am I snuck into the server for the first time.

~ 1:30am (now Thursday) I go to Zonah (the in-game hospital) because I see a message in the sky that says “EMS on Duty”. I was out of food and drink and was about to pass out. Lol. Also I figured since someone was there, I could talk to them about working as an EMS because I was a paramedic in my last city.

Officer Cartwright gives me some garlic Parmesan wings. I know his name because IRL I’ve been watching Meta World for months… matter of fact… I knew I wanted to join Meta World 5 months ago but I had 0 RP experience. Also, I had 0 GTAV experience. So… I did some research and I joined another server. A slower one, but one where I could start to learn the mechanics of movement and driving and ‘push to talk’. Lol. I had NEVER even played a video game using mouse and keyboard.

I played in that first city for 2/3 months… just learning the basics. I wouldn’t even let myself APPLY for Meta World until I didn’t look like a total bot (newbie) in the game. I KNEW that I could master the interactions… before my injury, I ran nightclubs, opened restaurants across the country and had recently shifted to ministry.

I love people. Deeply. And in my soul. But I couldn’t join Meta until I had some of the basic skill sets of the game under my belt. The level of talent in the city was too high to not do my best to be ‘smooth’ with it.

I’ve been watching the incredibly talented cast, including Rasta (Malik/Julius/Big Smoke), Townsend (B Ditty, DeShaun, Trey Trey), (Lil) BIG Jada (I didn’t know her stream name yet), Jeannie (also Dr. Mel), Primetime (Officer Foley and (RIP) Ant of yellow gang) and ShowMe Gaming (Commissioner Munny) … just to name a few.

I was really really excited when I watched the whole story unfold of Kryptic and the Y8 joining the city. I instantly knew it was going to be good for the city but I had no idea that Kryptic was going to turn into one of my all time favorite RP streamers. Watching him was what tipped the scale for me. He seemed to seamlessly fold his personality into his characters and no matter what… stay positive and have pure fun. I gained the confidence to fill out the app and develop my character’s backstory.

Rewind back to November 3rd, 2020 (yup Election Day). I had a knee surgery that went horribly wrong. I haven’t walked without crutches and excruciating pain running from my left lower back through to my left foot. Daily, I have had to be in bed… almost all day, every day… for 19 months. Chronic pain, depression, anxiety… like I would never wish on my worst enemy. Constant.

I got into gaming and then streaming, to take my mind off of pain.

When I couldn’t game because I couldn’t sit (which is STILL most of the day) I watched streams. I’m a B… maybe B+ Call of Duty player. And I was getting bored of it… honestly. It felt like it was draining me and I was already weakened enough.

That’s when I discovered Meta World.

Right now, It’s been 1 week since my friend Drew passed. I didn’t have enough money to pay June rent (still haven’t and it’s now 6.27.22). My daughters birthday was this past Saturday June 11th. I couldn’t afford to even get her anything for her birthday. Work comp disability doesn’t pay anything. Depressed. Broken. Anxious about so much….

I snuck into Meta World.

On my way down the hallway at Zonah, to find a doctor, to see if they are “hiring” EMS, I run into a character I’ve come to really enjoy while watching Meta. She asks me if I’m alright (because I’m trying to fix my voice box and I’m standing in the middle of the hallway like an idiot). I get it to work.

Me: Yeah I’m good. Hey, What’s your name?

Her: I’m Big Jada Cuz

For those of you that don’t know, “Big Jada” is a character in this city (server) that is a kid character with an adult personality. Almost all other characters are adult characters, btw. She is a hilarious ‘menace’ to anyone who crosses her, her family, or friends. It’s MORE than entertaining to watch her role play in the city. Don’t call her ‘baby Jada’ or you might get a bat to the knees quick! Lol. The actress’ streamer name is QueenRnBia and she’s a wildly talented creator.

It’s been all laughs and funny interactions since that exact moment. She randomly blessed me with $80k (in-game money. Lol) … took me to get me a car. The next day, when I loaded back into the game, she CALLED me to see if I was good and told me to go get my car upgraded “on her”. She was like a ‘welcome wagon’ into this foreign city.

Dr. Mel (who has NO idea that I know who she is…still) has been really nice to me. She has noticed the “hard work” and given us bonuses and even had to “go to bat” for us when we get disrespected. Everyone has been super fun to role-play with (for the most part. Hahaha).

It’s been… exactly what I needed… on one of the darkest days of my life… in the hardest season of my life.

I just wanted to write this all down because I don’t wanna forget how good God was to me this week. I was already destroyed and in the worst pain of my life before Drew passed away. It was completely unexpected and something broke inside of me. I was actually scared for a few days, that maybe… maybe this was too much. Maybe I might not make it through everything I’m going through … and now more?

But then I loaded up a frickin video game…

And I’m so thankful that I did. I’m so grateful that, after months of “practicing”, I finally made it home. To my new city.

Meta World

Sammy Jackstone, EMS, is me. Joel Barnes, except Sammy is healthy and pain-free and can walk and jump and sit. Lol. Sammy is a little bit of hood and a little bit of hood. A helper. A connector. A sharer. I know EMS is a tough character to develop. Especially for content creation. But I’m up for it. I have something to create again. I have a place to interact with humans again. If I can make streaming make some money for the crib… oh man. What a huge blessing that would be. But… I’m writing all of this because it has already been such a huge blessing to me. I’m gonna make sure that every person I run into in the city has as much fun with Sammy as we can. He’s already paying it forward. In-game, he’s given away 6 cars and almost $850k of money. Now he’s picking and running with the ‘welcome wagon’ of Meta World mantle. He loves meeting with and interacting with the new people, especially.

Why?

Because you never know what someone is going through Cuz. 🥲

Jada was definitely an “Angel in my eyes” or ‘in my stream’. Since then, I’ve met Gabriel, Wolfe, Pete, Sky, Deebo and a slew of other characters that I get to interact with and that recognize Sammy every time I go into this game world. You don’t realize the power of walking in the door and people knowing your name until it’s absent for a few years. This injury has kept me from doing much and from leaving my house since when the pandemic hit.

I named this article this morning. I was in the city late night into the morning because my boy “Gabe” had had a rough day IRL and just came into the game to have a little fun and “vibe out”. I was about to “fly out” aka “get off the game” right before he came in but I stayed. I’m glad I did. Not only did we laugh our asses off multiple times in the shift (including once where I ran a cop over with his own 6x6 truck while doing donuts in the street as he aimed a class 2 at me … clip coming soon), but then, another Angel in My Eyes popped up.

This in-game character named Zae came up to me and introduced himself. One of THE most fun parts of gta role play is that you HAVE to Role Play everything out. Anything that your character knows, has to be acquired knowledge from iN-Game. Anyways… he introduced himself and pointed to the sky and said “I’ve been in your eyes before and I just wanted to come meet you.” I quickly realized that he was someone who was actually a follower of mine in my stream and you could hear the excitement in his voice around meeting “Sammy from EMS” in his voice. It was so dope… he’s actually liked, followed, shared and even sent stars to my stream. He showed me his new cars and told me about his house and we plan to hang out soon.

He’s one of the “angels in my eyes”.

Another guy loaded into the game last night on EMS and I had never seen him before. About mid-shift, he says “hey man I was there when you hit that level up bro. Congrats! I’m hoping to get there one day soon, too” It was completely in character and within the context of RP and what I realized that he was an Angel in My Eyes when I reached the point where my stream can be monetized.

I met a guy in-game last night that’s from Australia, y’all. He was an “Angel in my eyes” one night and he said that he was ‘interested in becoming EMS and was watching my stream to get pointers’. Listen… ain’t nobody interested in doing EMS in an role play server. Lol. But somehow he was… and somehow he found my content… and he was supporting it AND learning from it. And now he was standing in front of me, letting me know that his application got accepted and he needed to talk to a doctor to interview. His in-game name is Kyle. Sammy welcomed him to Meta World and slid a little cash in his pocket to get a car.

All of these people from this imaginary world have been Angels In My Eyes. People in my stream. Characters. Followers. New Friends. People that find Sammy funny. People that are happy (mostly) to hang with Sammy in this video game. This server. This city.

Like I said in my journal entry… it’s been a blessing. You never know what someone is going through.

Here’s how I want to close ….

God sees YOU. YOU… YOU…

I got blessed with a video game world to walk into when I can’t WALK right now. You hear me? My little brother tuned in one day and watched, and we talked later that night after he saw me RP for a couple hours. He said… “it was just so good to see you be you. It was so special to just see you walking Joel” And he broke down crying… he knows, just my mom and the rest of my family knows, how hard and painful and stressful this season has been and we both just sat there and cried for a minute. Because it was like was got a little bit of hope back from this character Sammy Jackstone. So much of the last couple years have been darkness… it’s just nice to have some joy.

Open your mind, set aside your expectations, and allow God to take WHATEVER He wants to use in your life to bless you. It felt embarrassing for a long time that I found so much of an escape with gaming. I felt people scoffing at it and/or laughing about it like it’s some childish thing. But yet… we brag about a hangover? Or how high we got? Or how much much we spent? They are all coping mechanisms of some kind. I’m totally fine that my coping mechanism is super nerdy. Especially since it’s been mentally and emotionally encouraging for me.

Don’t allow shame to creep into the thing that God wants to use to make you whole again. That’s just the devil tryna run an interference play.

Thankful to get to watch live streams and see the amazing content creators out there.

Thankful to get to RP a digital version of myself and create this character to push the limits of what’s been done before.

Thankful that I get to do it with such talented creators.

Thankful that the stream is now monetized and I can actually earn a few bucks for the family… finally.

I’m thankful for the “Angels in My Eyes”, (both characters in-game AND people in my stream) that are encouraging me to be a better version of myself every day.

Finally … thank you to Townsend and Boogie and the whole admin team at Meta World for y’alls commitment to such a quality server and product. Your work and creation and dedication to the craft is not going unnoticed. You are creating a beautiful sandbox for creators to play and create in. Thank you. I can only imagine how many stories are similar to mine but they just aren’t as long winded as I am. 😂

ok… Last last last… I wanna thank EVERYONE who has supported me. Financially, prayerfully, emotionally… whatever. Thank you! Renee, I got this PC because you supported me. Ma, you already KNOW what you’ve done, thank you. Rachel, Jodie, Lauren, Jerome, Christi, Andrea, Nacho, Anto, Mateo, Zoie, Dre, O the Fox’s… honestly… just thank you. To all of the people who subscribe to this newsletter, seriously… this commitment to write every week has saved my life… thank you. If you are one of my gamer people and you had no idea I was a writer and pastor, thank you for getting this far in the newsletter

If you wanna follow or see (or are curious about) the gaming stuff, you can follow the gaming page HERE. Remember, it’s 18+ acting. lol BEWARE of the language or adult situations!

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