Free To Play [Off the Record]

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For the few of you who knew me, I’ve more than once spoken about how DotA is my favourite game, and I believe as the best game ever made. With how much I talked about video games in general, one would think I would talk about DotA more. Looking back however, “Legacy” was the last one I ever wrote of it, and that was months ago. Since then I have decided to wash my hands with the game and move on. In light of the release of Valve’s documentary named “Free To Play”, I have a strong urge to talk about things again. Admit things I never admitted, mostly. Being someone so prideful, I have done far too many regrettable things to just let it go.

A bit of history: I was not actually a passionate gamer during my early years, attributing to my parent’s reluctance to admit the usefulness of a computer, and stereotypical education first mentality. I do, however, dabble here and there in casual things and play games as an escape, something many share. School life was less than desirable back then, and with none existence motivation to put effort into it, I drifted towards this means of entertainment. I have to admit, my life was a good bit meaningless back then. One would say being 12 is a bit too young to look down on yourself, but I was never one to steer away from the truth. I was a pretty useless kid, done and done. Useless not in a sense of being unproductive, but in a sense of not having dreams or aspirations, and not to mention no pride to go with it. Hard to believe, I’m sure. The thing that took most of my time back then was actually Yu-gi-oh the physical card game, funnily enough. I was part of a local community, but I knew from the start that it was only for fun. Fun I did have, although my parents still weren’t very supportive of it. That caused a lot of problems, but not something too relevant at this point. During the last year of middle school, a friend – who I shall refer to as Steven – introduced me to this thing called “DotA”. It’s explained as a custom map for Warcraft 3, a game I have touched in the past but never particularly good at. Steven and I, along with some other friends, started playing with others in the class with the same hobby. It was fun, for a time. Still, it was just for fun. Then I got to high school, where due to a certain life event, I gained a large amount of self-confidence, while DotA help me make new friends. That wasn’t the end of it though. I became extremely competitive, and it gave me a feeling of accomplishment I have never received before in my life.

I was good at the game, very good in fact. I was never ‘that’ good, but I’ve always thought I could be if I tried hard enough. Time wasn’t easy for practice of any sort when I was back home, because I still had to live with my parents as a minor and they are all but supportive of my gaming endeavours. Unfortunately I was still too young at the time to be able to articulate my passion and my position well enough to them. Thus, my education waddled on as expected, distinctively average in from most fronts. However, not once did I stopped playing the game, or wanting to play the game. It was fun, it was so fun. Thousands of hours were spent on DotA, whether practicing alone or playing with friends at a local pc shop. All the while, I had fun as well. It was, quite literally, the best thing that has ever happened to me up until that point. Because of my good results, I decided that I would try something for something more. A career path, perhaps? WIth two of Valve’s The Internationals already past successfully, I would say I was very hopeful. However, I was going to move to America in the next few months to continue higher education, because lord knows what would happen if I didn’t have a back-up plan. That means I really could not have made a team locally, and instead forced to wait until my arrival in the U.S.

And so I did arrive. With time zones being a thing, my group of friends within the game changed drastically, and I devoted a large amount of time into the game, but more into the casting side. I have no idea why, but I just could not find it in myself to play the game anymore all of a sudden. I have noticed a decline, sure, but at a point of 3 – 4 games a week, I knew everything was going wrongly. I tried to make a team at the time, it didn’t work out. I decided to be caster instead, I tried for about 5 months. While the amount of content I produced was significant, some factors held me back. In the end, it didn’t prove to have done me very good. Then there was my being hopeless romantic for a few months onward, severely shattered all hopes of me putting time into the game. It was so bad that I decided to quit altogether. Sure, I had many other reasons, I mentioned in “Legacy”, but mostly because I don’t want to invest time into it anymore. It has taken so much time out of my life, time that I will never be able to take back. What if it turned out to be for naught? What will I have then? What will be my ambitions, my role to play?

Though honestly, I was just a coward.

It pains me a lot to admit it, but I envied the people with the passion to chase their dreams. I am doing that as well, but in much subtler and passive way. ‘Takings things easy’, as I would say it. I am not those people who are willing to give up so much just to do what they want to do. I have put in so much time as well, and I know fully well I could be just as good if I have tried. However, I never had the guts to try. I was simply being fearful of the future. I have so many excuses, but in the end none of them means a thing. At this point so far forward, I am far too calculating, too cold-bloodedly realistic that I simply can no longer do those things anymore. I suppose this is ‘growing up’, discarding your desire in hope of a more stable living. It’s a cop out, nothing more nothing less, and I know that very well. That’s why I cannot admit to myself how much I miss playing the game. That’s why I secretly reinstalled it after all these times. That’s why I cared so much about the changes to the point of making me quite the game entirely. That’s why I leave behind a very close community that I have committed to so much.

Escaping from the game is the actual escapism.

I fear I will never be able to find such passion again.

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