Yes, I’m grateful for World of Warcraft.

Actually I’m grateful not just for the class of entertainment and diversion it provides, but also for reasons which will become very clear.

I was first introduced to MMPORGS (Massively Multi-Player Online Role-playing Games) by a friend who was a long time Dungeons and Dragons player (that game actually never appealed to me, for whatever reason). What he introduced me to was Asheron’s Call (AC); a virtual world into which your fictional cartoon-like character or avatar (often referred to as ‘toons) would run around, fight things, pursue quests, hang out with other players, and just generally waste time.

Eventually the people I’d started hanging around with moved on to World of Warcraft (WoW), and I followed. It would be nearly ten years ago now that the character pictured above was first created. (The Corgi, ironically one of three in-game, would come later.)

One one hand it would be easy to dismiss online gaming — or perhaps any gaming at all — as a waste of time.

When I started it most certainly wasn’t, at least for me. Online gaming represented a quick and easy escape from the realities of the world that I was dealing with at the time. Those realities? The mental decline of my father, and the illness and death of my mother. As the responsible only child I periodically needed escape. AC (and then WoW) was one way out. Killing virtual critters became therapy.

I still play periodically. I find it a good head-clearing diversion. It helps keep some thinking skills sharp (yes, it does require a bit of mental fortitude to accomplish things within the game), and killing virtual critters remains a safe way to vent when needed. That it involves my computer, and I can drop in and out on a whim, makes it an even more appropriate venue for me.

No, it’s not the most monumental thing in the world, and I don’t claim it to be. But it helped me through some tough times, and it’s still something I continue to enjoy.