Writing this short story has helped me process feelings and deeply buried emotions that would have had a toll on me in the long run. This little piece is not meant for the faint hearted, if it succumbs to an eternal digital darkness, well so be it; but if it helps no more than only one fellow gamer think and process, find solace whatever is troubling them, then it has already been worth it. These first sentences might pose the question to you, why you are reading this in
Some of you know me, some not, it is completely irrelevant who I am. I can be your neighbor; your colleague; your online classmate; your buddy you play with every Saturday; your random carry or support; your Battlecup opponent, your coach… your teammate. I can have many faces and all these faces share a story, a story hardly apparent to you if you only become vested in your own and stop seeing how interconnected we really are. So many things I would like to talk about with you, but as time is running out and ink is soon to dry, I will keep it focused and short: Griefing, Grieving and a cup of Hot Chocolate.
Griefing, grieving. What is the difference even? Running from a real-life issue, part of a grieving process, procrastinating for that next task you should finish, they all have led you here, haven't they? And then you learned the handles, beat up your first creeps, bought your first butterfly and felt invincible, strolled down midlane leaving nothing but ash and a scorched earth behind you. A feeling that might touch you, tickle you, like that summer breeze, time and time again, a feeling so deeply buried in your neuro pathways, you don't even know why you have started but it's there, it reinforces you: you are home. Time passed and you have become better, you have found goals or just a solid way of spending time, either alone or with friends, but who is on the other side? Who am I sharing my spare time with or rather 'what'?
Now it is so very hard to imagine from time to time that those very people that you are sharing your time with, might have lived through situations such as yourself, whether it be COVID or a different occurrence, PTSD, a harsh childhood, domestic or not. And then grieving, a tool to help process gets portrayed as bad and demonized under the label 'griefing' in game. Because what is griefing really? It is not more than projecting your own feelings, the pressure of the extreme expectations you have willingly or subconsciously placed on yourself, the expectations you might have of your surroundings… projecting all of these and choking at the bottleneck. It snaps and you 'grief'. But what about the next person? How is this fair? People that have shared your situation and try to move away from the very thing that you are doing? What if their way of grieving or processing is to set goals and get better at whatever they are doing, in this case: Dota2?
I think I know what grieving is. It is a very hard process, for you, for me, for all of us. See, we are used to seeking safe harbor and it's not a problem. It is just how we deal stuff, and that is perfectly splendid. Tonight, I woke up after having a conversation with my great-grandmother. I don't remember details but I the scent of freshly baked cookies, her clothes, and her listening to me, not judging, all these emotions were so vivid. The brain is both mesmerizing and fear instilling. How can areas light up that were thought to be gone years ago? Lately I lost my grandfather of my dad's side to the battle of COVID. Yesterday both of my mother's side grandparents learned they have the virus. They don't feel well and they are old, I'm helping them with what I can but it is taking a toll on me too, juggling coaching fellow gamers, university, real life, caretaking, and pumping out the positive energy every single day cheering up them and people around me. And boy do I have snapped in the past and taken it out on random people in my games over the internet. I even have destroyed my items one game…
I remember that game as if it was yesterday. It's been months now in reality. A triggering motion from my teammate Juggernaut, promptly suggesting I end it all after picking up the Aegis, even though I knew that at that point we both can stand high ground and felt like the strongest hero on the map. It was a day where I felt low, and despite being up 20k, dragged my items on the ground and started destroying them. If not for a positive force being the Snapfire in my game, I would have destroyed all of it. The sickening rollercoaster of emotions in those 3 seconds? Anger, blame, relief, horror and grief. I'm not a too emotional person – my girlfriend begs to differ – but I have literally cried after that very moment. I picked up in the base what my Snapfire could salvage, did my very best to drag out the game and work with the 15k disadvantage I have caused my team and eventually closed out the game and won. For this to happen in a game is rather rare. It is mostly a recipe for disaster and I honestly believe I sadly ruined the experience for many of us there.
If this is 'griefing', it is very wrong, and I have made it my personal goal back then no matter what never let it happen again. Because the realization hits too hard – we are not alone. Truth to be told it is not as much grieving as letting external factors take hold and make you go mode: destruction. It's not grieving that is bad, not grieving, not processing and allowing your internally filled up glass overflow into the game hurting others and causing a Ripple effect: that is the issue. So the next time you find yourself in a bad spot, try to help that fellow gamer, because maybe, just maybe, they share your experiences. And who knows, you might make a new friend, you can hit up Discord with, drink a cup of Hot Chocolate and play a game or two.
Why do I share stories with you? Because I am you. I am not an 'AGENT GABENA' as our Russian friends would jokingly say. Truth is: noone is. Every single hero you see across your games is handled by a fellow gamer. A guy or a girl with feelings and I don't tell you to go easy on them if you are on the opposing side. They need the distraction and the adrenaline as much as the next person. I just ask you to take in consideration that we are all people. The people that you lash out to are a single mom taking a break middle in the night after feeding, a young kid trying his best to reach a dream, a father tired after a day's work, a person that is grieving loss. And the best way too just snap out of it for a second is to be immersed.
So I made it my aim to keep people immersed, immersed in the game that is our safe harbor, our avenue to fame, the game that unites us, a game that keeps giving: DotA.