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How Guild Wars 2 Saved My Life – A Personal Story


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I’ve been a gamer for at least 30 years now, starting with the original NES, playing most popular consoles all the way to Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4. I’ve Always been a console gamer up until 2021 when I decided to set up a somewhat decent PC to record my music and maybe play some games, which was an awful timing given the chip shortage and price hikes that ensued the pandemic. 
Coincidentally, this was also the same period in my life when my wife and I decided to bring in my mother to live with us, as she was fighting an already lost battle against a terminal c@ncer. Pancreatic c@ncer, to be more precise. One of the most deadly and untreatable types, when discovered at later stages, as was my mom’s case. I knew she wouldn't have much time left, so I did what I could, to the best of my limited abilities and possibilities to... help, maybe? Anyway, she lived with us for roughly 3 months until her passing. A phase in our life we can only describe as nightmarish, both for her and for us. C@ncer sucks. Watching a loved one suffer in excruciating pain every single day, while you're just there to try and ease the pain when the meds don't work anymore is... Well, it was by far the hardest thing I've ever been through. Not to mention the ever growing debts the disease brought about and the total lack of help and support from the rest of the family. The whole situation was quite traumatic, to say the least. My marriage suffered as a result as did my already decaying mental health. 
But then it was over on December 9th, 2021. My older sister and father had just finally managed to move to my city/neighborhood two days before my mom died. They were supposed to arrive much earlier to share the burden my wife and I were carrying on our own, but there was always some excuse that prevented them from doing it.
After mom died, Nightmare Part II had just started. Long story short, I come from a very dysfunctional, abusive and toxic background. Father is a hardcore narcissist. Sister has a history of histrionic personality disorder, with a side of psychopathy/sociopathy. Mother was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and I... Well I’ve been struggling with depression, ADHD and anxiety for as long as I can remember. So when my older sister and father came back into my life, it was like being back in time to my awful childhood. I couldn’t even mourn my mother because they needed, or rather demanded, my full attention and somehow I always conceded. Shortly after mom's death, they both fell very sick and guess who was there to pick up the pieces again? No, I'm definitely not a nurse or anything even related to that, but I thought someone had to do it... You’d be excused to think that playing amateur nurse again would be enough to grant me some space and maybe some peace afterwards but you’d be very wrong. The abuse never went away. The fights never stopped. Christmas that year was... not great. Soon after New Year’s, my wife and I tested positive for covid. And I was so glad (!) At least I’d be legally prevented from seeing anyone, including the family, for nearly a month. And it was a good month, despite the constant fear of death looming over us. It took us three weeks to heal and it wasn’t long before the abuse and demands started again and that was literally the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. I could no longer deal with them, specially after my mom’s situation. So I just shut down completely. And so did my wife. I stopped replying to their whatsapp messages and answering their calls. I was no longer checking in on them to see if they needed anything. I told them I wasn't well and that I needed some time and space from everything. They were enraged. They just couldn't take it. When a narcissist lose control over someone, it's not a pretty sight. Then something finally clicked inside me and I felt I no longer cared for them, or rather for what they thought of me or what their intentions were. I just couldn’t move or do anything. Two months went by like this, until one day when they just left. Leaving nothing behind but a sea of debts in my name and a couple dozen problems for me to deal with, like the house I had rented for them. Life was indeed falling apart but I did have something to look forward to most of the time: my guitar and my newly built PC.
In the many hours spent by my mother’s hospital bed I numbed myself watching videos on my phone, absorbing as much new info and knowledge as I could, just to put them in practice when I came home to my PC. As a noob PC gamer I had heard some big PC names before like WoW, Starcraft, Minecraft, League of Legends, etc, but since I wasn’t too familiar with them, I did my homework and quickly built a nice games library to my taste on Steam, Epic store, GOG and Xbox Gamepass. Still I was playing mostly console friendly games on a PC, with a gamepad, and thought I should dig deeper, so I started looking into the world of MMOs, hoping to make full use of my gaming keyboard and mouse. World of Warcraft was the only name I had ever heard about in the genre, but honestly it had quite the bad rep. From the subscription model to the FOMO implemented by Blizzard and so on. So I turned my attention elsewhere and Final Fantasy XIV caught my eye. Other big names kept appearing too like Elder Scrolls Online, New World, BDO and some others. FF seemed the most interesting, from what I could tell, since apparently it was taking over WoW as the most popular MMO at the time. And it was free! At least you could try a HUGE part of the base game absolutely free with no strings attached so I thought I’d give it a shot. 
Unfortunately though, this was right at the end of 2021 so basically when the game was so popular that Square Enix decided to halt all sales and do away with the free version of the game because too many people were playing it and they couldn’t handle it all at once. So back to square one, I had more research to do because I already knew back then that MMOs are kind of a big commitment so I needed to be extra sure beforehand. 
Many, many, many “BEST MMOS” videos later, a name kept coming up: Guild Wars... 2! Not only was it a game I had never even heard of but it was already a sequel. It seemed interesting, kind of more action oriented than most MMOs, with snappy animations and stuff. People usually praised its combat with the dodge mechanics and its jumping puzzles... “WTF is a jumping puzzle?” Then I found a very long video by Mr. Josh Strife Hayes, you know, one of those “Should you play X game in 20XX”. So I grabbed my coffee, sat back and relaxed to enjoy the video. 
Then it hit me. 
It was like watching an infomercial for the N64 way back when. I just had to have that! Josh has a very peculiar way of describing things that really struck me (not to mention the gentleman’s accent <3). The game seemed so much fun from his perspective that I immediately made an Arenanet account and started downloading it before the video was done. Then I found Mukluk’s video, “Explaining the appeal of GW2 in 2020 something” and a few other creators like WoodenPotatoes and Mighty Teapot that really know their stuff and I was irreversibly hooked. I tried the free version of the game, starting with a Ranger character. I messed with the controls and keybinds to find something that suited me better (action camera ftw), then got everything else set up. 20 levels was all it took. I deleted my character to properly start over, buying the full game with both expansions available at the time, Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, because what little I had seen was THAT good. It was EXACTLY what I'd been looking for as a newly convert PC gamer: an engrossing world with some deep lore, a sophisticated combat and complex mechanics, interesting npcs and mysteries to boot. There was just so much to see and do and explore and learn... It was the perfect escape from the crazy reality I'd found myself in.
In my darkest hours since my mom’s passing, Guild Wars 2 was the safe haven I ran to whenever I needed peace. After all of the abuse and toxicity I'd been through irl, I was surprised to feel embraced by the GW2 community and felt a sense of belonging that I’ve never experienced before. People were nice and kind just because. I mentioned in chat once that I was running out of inventory space (silly me hadn't found out about the bank tab and deposit all button yet) and someone gifted me a 10 slot inventory bag and that simple gesture just brought me to tears... (It was one of those days) I wasn’t asking for a bag, I was just talking to people and enjoying the game as a new player, trying to get a grip on it. I didn’t even know how easy/hard it was to acquire a 10 slot bag! And I still remember the first time a stranger passed me by when I was downed by a minotaur mob. He revived me, killed the minotaurs and just kept on going on his merry way mounted on his pretty Skyscale, so I couldn’t follow him if I wanted to. I was so awestruck i wasn’t even sure if it was a real person or a kind NPC or something... 
These memories have power and they linger on to this day. GW2 helped me find peace and solace in places I least expected. My wife is not a gamer, but whenever I shared these experiences with her, she’d also light up in surprise that people could just be nice without anything in return. 
A couple of months after I started my GW2 journey I started doing therapy. Another two months went by and my father and sister moved out of my city and we haven’t seen them in person since. It still hurts. We only talk to them through messages when it’s absolutely essential and only when we really have to. My wife and I finally got out life back together after all this turmoil and now I can finally say that we have found our peace of mind again. 
After all this time, I’m still very much a noob in GW2, even afer my 1,400 hours in the game. There’s still so much to do! I try to pass along the kindness I was given from the start by the community as much as i can and it feels awesome to be welcomed as well as welcoming others into the fold. I feel very grateful and very fortunate to be in the headspace I am in today, so I wanted to share this. I’m thankful for my wife for being the perfect life partner and witness to my weird Personal Story (got it? Personal Story?). I’m thankful for the GW2 community and creators for keeping alive a spirit of comradery and a cozy familiar sense of belonging. I’m thankful for my therapist, who’s helped me through thick and thin, and I encourage anyone who’s ever felt like there’s something wrong in their life to look for help or some sort of answer to your deeper questions. And finally, I’m thankful for everyone at Arenanet. You just play this game and it’s abundantly clear how much love and dedication has been put into it every corner of it. The more time and attention you have as a player, the more rewarding the game becomes, honestly. It is, by far, the best game I have ever experienced in the 30+ years in my gaming career. It’s not just one single aspect of GW2 that makes it stand out above all others, but the whole body of work, from its gameplay to its music, from its mechanics to its art style, from its innovations to its limitations, from its community to its developers, from its lore to its design philosophy. You can feel there are good, caring, special human beings behind every detail in this game and while it might not be regarded as the most popular MMO ever by the gaming media, at least it can safely be said that Guild Wars 2 saved this poor Ranger from a terrible downstate and propelled him to a much brighter endgame in life.
Thank you, Anet
Edited by GusVish.9251
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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for sharing your story with us. 😄

Josh Strife Hayes is indeed a good head of marketing for ArenaNet.

I think this review made a lot of customers for Guild Wars 2 over the years too. It encapsulates a lot of what you spoke here.

I wish you all the best.

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