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This post is kind of a Part 2 in a possibly ongoing PTSD series.

Here is a link to Part 1.

I’ve always been an internet junkie from the time it came out. After my time in the service and the isolation began, I was looking for ways to interact with people without actually having to interact with them. I did the chat-room thing for a while. I found some interesting groups. It was nice just to hang out and talk to people without having to really be with them. I was also playing games on my computer. Thief, Hitman, Tiger Woods’ Golf, whatever struck me as being interesting and fun. The only problem was that something was missing.

One day at work one of the guys came up and asked me if I played World of Warcraft. I told him “no”, I didn’t believe in paying a monthly fee for a game that I already purchased. He said that he understood and let it drop. He waited a month or two then approached me again. He had noticed that I was purchasing several games per month. He asked me if I played the games until I beat them. I said that I did. Then he asked what I did with the games after I beat them. I told him that I either uninstalled them or left them on to screw around with later. Then he asked the big question. He asked how much I was spending per month on games. This whole thing was a set-up and I walked blindly into it. I told him that I spent roughly $60.00 a month buying games. He responds with “You know, for only $15.00 a month you can play World of Warcraft and it’s a new game every time you log in.” I started to object, but he cut me off and asked me to try the 10 day free trial. If I didn’t like the game he would never bring it up again. I agreed to his proposal, if for no other reason than to get him to get off my back about this game.

I downloaded the 10 day free trial. I logged in and created my first character. A Night Elf Hunter. I knew nothing about the game. Ubernoob barely described how noobish I was. Within two hours I was hooked and haven’t looked back. After telling him that I really enjoyed the game, he invited me to join his guild. I had to switch sides and let my little Night Elf Hunter go the way of the dodo.

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since February 2007. I have my buddy Evan to thank for this. You probably saved my life. What I found in the game was the missing ingredient in my less-than-social social life. It was a giant chat-room plus an incredibly fun game. If I wanted to talk to people, there they were. If I wanted to be left alone, that was fine too.

You may be asking yourself, what the hell does any of this have to do with PTSD? I found in the guild a camaraderie that I hadn’t had since my time in the service. We had goals. Missions to accomplish. Enemies to kill.  It gave me something to look forward too. I was no longer an anti-social hermit locked in my apartment. I was a valued member of a team of some of the worst WoW players I have ever known. But we had one hell of a good time.

I will only talk about two guilds in this post. My first guild and my current active guild. I’ve been in many guilds. I’ve been an officer in several and a guild leader of a couple. To date, my two favorite guilds are my first and my current guild.

ICEMAN was a ragtag bunch of misfit players. I loved those guys and gals. I was the old man of the guild. I kind of became a surrogate dad to these folks. We would talk in guild chat(typing) or we would use Skype. We would help each other out with quests. We became a family and acted as such. We were a tight knit unit. We hung out in real life. Had parties and BBQs. One of the greatest things about ICEMAN was that most of us were really bad players, but we didn’t know it. Some of my best memories of the game are those when I was running with ICEMAN.

My current guild is Reprisal. This is an international guild. We have players from Brazil, Australia, India and all over America. Reprisal is a fairly well polished raiding guild. We strive to do our best every time we step foot into a dungeon. We are a 4/8 Heroic Mode Raiding Guild. Meaning that we have killed 4 out of 8 of the final bosses of the game on the hardest setting in the game. We feel pretty damned good about that. There is a kinship. A brotherhood. We are a team and we rely on each other.

In the over five years that I’ve played, I have become a pretty decent player. I’ve changed my job from being a hunter, who stands in the back and kills things to a healer, who stands in the back and tries like hell to keep my team alive. I’m like a medic. I am needed. That is a good feeling.

Without World of Warcraft I doubt you would be reading this today. There were plenty of times that I was ready to pull the trigger, but didn’t because I had a raid that night and people were counting on me to be there. There was a title I was trying to get. There was a guild event that sounded like fun. These reasons may sound childish or immature to some of you, but without those reasons I would have done myself in years ago. The game allows me to immerse myself in a fantasy world and distract my mind from the crap that the PTSD insists that I have to deal with. I take the skills that I have learned on my own or from my therapist and apply them in the game. Because of the game I have actually been able to leave the house and venture forth to meet in real life some of these people with which I play.

I have met some wonderful people. There are times we stay up to all hours talking about Physics, Biology, World Events, Space Travel, Food Recipes or just some goofy bullshit one of us found to be funny. I’ve played with Scientists, Physics Professors, Movie Stars, Active Duty Soldiers from all branches, Veterans, High School Kids, College Students, CEOs, Day Laborers, Hermits and Social Butterflies. I’ve seen marriages come out of this game. Divorces. First Loves. Professional Partnerships. And most importantly, my girlfriend. This game has allowed me to become a somewhat socially active person again.

I still have some serious issues when it comes to going out into and dealing with the public. However, this game has helped me be able to go out into public, if only in small doses.

I want to thank Blizzard Entertainment for providing us with this wonderful game. You may have very well saved my life and the lives of those like me.