Often times we hear about how video games cause problems and even destroy lives. We hear games are a waste of time and money and are only enjoyed by teenage boys hiding in their parent’s basement. There’s another side to that coin.
Several years ago I found myself in a very dark place. Someone whom I had cared about very deeply met an unfortunate end. I felt so much guilt about his death that I withdrew and found myself turning to alcohol to numb the pain. I lived by myself and was lonely so I spent every night for several months at a bar. It was to the point that it was impacting my health, my job, my friends and my family. I’m certain that if I had continued down that road, I would have ultimately ended up dead myself.
Things finally took a turn for the better when a few friends of mine talked me into playing an MMORPG with them. I had always been a fan of video games so I took them up on their offer and it wasn’t long before I found myself deep within this fantasy world. It was a place to escape when the pain was overwhelming. I could enter this new land and not be myself, and not experience what I had experienced. As an online game, with many players, I was able to create a network of friends online that were willing to listen to my troubles and didn’t judge me for my feelings, all the while as we slayed bigger and stronger villains.
The amount of nights I spent drinking my sorrows away decreased drastically. I slowly regained my self-esteem. I was starting to feel like myself again. I came out of the hole I had tried to bury myself in. My job performance started improving. I was rebuilding relationships with my family and friends. I even forged relationships online. Friendships were made that have endured years even though none of us have time to play anymore. Our lives have continued on evolving but we still stay in touch despite the many miles that separate us.
So the next time you’re thinking about saying something negative about video games, think about the people that they can help. Maybe they will help the quiet boy next door gain the self-esteem that he will thrive on for the rest of his life. Or maybe they will stop the downward spiral of a girl who is going through a really tough time.
I know that I forever will fondly remember my time in that online fantasy world that helped turn my life around.