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The Day A Video Game Saved My Life

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In 1997, I discovered massive multiplayer online role playing games. One year later I discovered life, a life that I control and make the most of by making my choices.  Yes, one may say that a video game does not have the power to make oneself aware of their actions or capabilities but, in my case it did. While playing I found the game to be very enjoyable, exciting, and a gateway to a different world that I controlled.   About ten months into playing I was sitting alone in my dark room at 3 a.m. I had the biggest epiphany that would affect the rest of my life.

It was as if I had been taken by the shoulders and shaken awake. I realized that I was controlling an avatar that I had made, organized all crafting and spell items, leveled up, and gear out; all because I wanted to. I realized that I could do these things with my life. So I reflected on the questions why can’t I change my life, why can’t I be organized, motivated, and level-up my real life skills? Finally, I realized that I’m in control of my life. At the age of 18 I did not know who or what was really in control. I found myself lost at some points during these years. I found myself lacking in goals, ambition, and self-motivation. It was at this point that I decided that I could change and become whatever I wanted to be.

Finally, I understood that I alone control each of these things in my life.  It was also no one else’s responsibility to tell me how, when or where or why I should live my life. But it is my decision alone to make. It is my choice whether I continue to sit at this computer and play games all day long, or get up and change aspects of my life that need to be changed.

Many people grow up learning these skills in different areas of their life, many go the traditional route and finish high school, then go on to college, and finally they get a suitable job. In most cases, people choose jobs that are financially beneficial, stable, and that will help them reach their goals in life. I was not most people: I did not finish high school, or attend college in the traditional way, nor did I have a job that I anticipated having for the next five years. I finally asked why am I doing all this, and why am I not doing the same things for myself?

When I sat down to play this game for the first time, I did not realize these things. It took some time to make the connections. It had taken about one year of gameplay before I figured out that I could change my life if I wanted too. Yes, I played an online video game for one year solid, meeting friends, upgrading my gear and spent long nights camping monsters to make more money.

I came to the conclusion that I can level up any skill that I want to within my life, I can have a college degree, and a career that I want. I just have to learn new skills, after understanding that internet access gives me access to all the information that I needed, and a library nearby as an additional resource I started my adventure. I concluded that if I can create an awesome avatar in another world, than I can change anything about my life.

The adventure underway, I first needed to get my high school diploma. After some research online I discovered it is not that hard, after a few test and trips to the post office I had a diploma in four weeks.  I was amazed it happened so quickly. I continued forward. I discovered that I wanted a degree, at least a Bachelors degree in something. By acknowledging my awesome computer and gaming talent, I chose information technology. After a few years went by of online college, and after a few trips to the real campus I had a degree. The University contacted me and asked if I wanted a masters degree, it would only take another 18 months. That sounded great to me! Eighteen months later I had a masters degree in information technology and program management. I learned program management was fun. It was similar to running a guild but with actual people. I felt exhilarated, accomplished, and elated that I made these choices in life.  While attending school I did have to cut back on my gameplay, but I never stopped playing completely. Online friends and guild mates understood what I was doing, and why I was doing it, they were very supportive throughout the process.

I feel that games have the capability of doing several things for people. Games are a form of relaxation, release from the real world, or in my case eye-opening realization about myself. In all, we should be aware of ourselves and understand that we are in control of how we respond to things and how we advance throughout life.


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Sarah Dyson
Sarah Dyson enjoys gaming and all it has to offer. She has been gaming for 25 years. It has been mostly gaming consisting of Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games or MMORPGs. Sarah has played games on all platforms (i.e. consoles, personal computers, and handheld devices). She has a Masters degree in information technology and project management and is pursuing her Ph.D. in social psychology. Sarah believes that gaming is fun, and it can benefit your child’s processing speed coordination, multi-tasking, and risk analysis. She realizes that gaming is a form of entertainment and relaxation for children; however, parents may not fully understand the role that games play in their children’s life.

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