With all the recent news about how video games allegedly lead to violent acts, I thought I would share a different kind of story. My story.
I have always been a gamer. Maybe not as much in the beginning, but video games have always been a part of my life. I was lucky enough to have parents who bought us several different kinds of gaming systems and the games that came with them. As I got older, I migrated to computer games, but due to my active lifestyle in high school and the start of college, I didn’t play that often. Then, in 2006, I was introduced to a game that would change my life forever. World of Warcraft.
At first, I was hesitant to start playing. I heard the things people would say: those kinds of games are addicting; they are for losers who have no social life; they are for people who can’t handle the real world. I began playing a couple nights a week. The more I learned the game and the more people I met within the game, the more I wanted to play. Eventually, I was playing pretty often, sometimes on a nightly basis. At $15 a month, it was a cheap form of entertainment for a poor college student. Not long after playing, I met some nice people and joined their guild (for any non-gamer readers, a guild is a group of people who play together and have their own chat channel to communicate).
Fast forward to 2008. I had been in the guild with the same people for over a year. After so long playing together, we thought it would be fun to meet in person and put faces to the voices we had been hearing for so long. That summer, we met in Chicago. We were all in our 20s or 30s and came from all over the U.S. Some were funny, some silly, all were nice, and none fit the “typical gamer” stereotype. We went to a bar in downtown Chicago, had a cookout, and went to the water park. We did social things, because despite what some people think, gaming is a social activity. We had so much fun, we decided to make it a yearly event.
In June of 2009, we set out for Chicago again. This time, people who weren’t able to make it the year before made the trip. One of those people was a guy named James. We had talked in the game for a couple years, some of it personal. Well, the second I saw him, I knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t stay away from him the entire weekend, and apparently, he felt the connection too. The weekend was over too soon, but we continued talking through text and phone, as well as the game.
I lived in Illinois at the time, while he was in Virginia. A few months later, I moved in with family in North Carolina, but while we were closer geographically, it was still really hard. We visited each other as often as we could, but Warcraft became our way to spend time together even when we were miles apart. In March of 2010, we couldn’t take it any longer… I moved in with him. Over the next year and a half we bought a house, got two dogs, and got engaged. We married in October 2011.
We are now expecting our first child, Anthony, in March of this year.
We still play Warcraft together. We have played numerous other games as well. And while I don’t talk to my gaming friends as much as I did a couple years ago, I will never forget their friendship or the fun we had. So, you could say that video games had an effect on me, but not the kind that the media likes to portray.
As a young child, I was exposed to a variety of game types, including those some would consider “violent.” Since I had two older sisters, I often watched movies that were inappropriate for someone my age… I watched Pulp Fiction the year it came out (I was nine). I have never had violent tendencies nor do I feel the need to buy a gun. There are millions of gamers worldwide, many with stories like mine. All of us are unique. Just remember, it’s easy to stereotype, but it’s even easier to point the finger.