Games can be a relaxing distraction from the overwhelming fears of our everyday lives. But then there are games like Isaac's Bond, Dark Souls, Hollow Knight, and Fear of the Galactic Warrior, as well as genres like survival horror, competitive shooters, and time-wasting MMOs. Gaming can be the complete opposite: it's a tiring but rewarding hobby that requires real investment to discover its best qualities. That's one of the things I appreciate about Elder Scrolls OL - it manages to hold my attention without making it feel like work or overwhelming.
Over the past year I've eliminated anxiety from therapy, as well as a host of other mental health issues, eventually leading to a nagging little voice in the back of my head when I dared to slow down and relax and I was angry on me. During my studies I was often so busy with course work, freelance work and my degree that I usually didn't get home until 11pm, sometimes even later. It's an ongoing problem that I'm just beginning to understand, but since I was 13 I've had an easy way out that I continue to rely on - ESO.
That nagging voice is hard to suppress. You sit on the couch hoping to relax after a long day, but you end up getting lost in your own head, putting yourself down and humiliating yourself. That's not funny. But games like ESO make me feel useful even when I'm doing something completely pointless. I can grind materials to complete craft tokens for my guild members, farm expensive and rare loot to fill shops, and quest as a healer in dungeons to defend my party against the toughest bosses. It's a challenge and a conscious effort for something bigger, even if that bigger is a bunch of nerds who like RPGs and fantasy. It's me. I'm a bunch of nerds.
I've played a few MMOs like World of Warcraft, Runescape and New Worlds. My experience was that in all cases I had to do the most important thing - time. Logging out or taking a break is frowned upon, and it gets intense because it takes so long to go about your daily routine and keep up with the latest content. It's unhealthy and ESO feels different. The guilds I found are adult friendly and some users have been inactive for months but occasionally reappear when they can. It's clear we're not all teenagers with nothing to do during the summer holidays, but we can still contribute even as we lead busy lives outside of games. When I find the time to step in and help, I do, and I appreciate being able to do something worthwhile for others, support my teammates, and do something worthwhile in my free time. It helps calm the nagging voice that wants me to do something I feel fulfilled about.
Last week I logged on and noticed that a new guild member had joined us. We all welcomed each other, visited the guild hall, chatted a bit, drilled dungeons and had a great time. I made them some training supplies to power up their new characters - and everyone had a blast growing our cartoon characters. Being an MMO, these cartoon characters are something to train and grow with over the years as they become an important part of the adventure. My healer was a dark elf with a large wizard hat, nifty animations, and a flamboyant golden staff, very different from my first day when I had nothing but rags and a flimsy wooden staff.
The next day, another guild member logs in and wants a vampire bite. They're limited, so you can't just bite everyone and turn everyone into immortals. Nobody else in the guild had any perks, but I did. So I passed the torch and continued the vampire bloodline, strangling this new guy at the temple and bringing him into a whole new cult with cheap ESO gold. I've chimed in and helped someone develop their character, saved them time farming and randomly begging in chat, and made new friends. All in all a great day.