Our lives are comprised of a series of moments. Good or bad, these moments shape who we are, and who we will become. Some moments seem insignificant when they happen and get passed out of our minds. It isn't until years later that we discover how truly important that moment was.
I have many important memories that I cherish; the moment I said "I do" to my wife, and the moment each of my children were born stand out as significant turning points in my life. But there was one moment in my life that was small, and didn't appear to change anything at the time.
Like ripples in a pond, this moment spread out. I realize now that I look back on it, this moment fundamentally changed who I was.
When I started high school almost twenty years ago, I was a dork of the highest order. A blip, some people call them. I could have drifted under the radar and finished my days in school without ever being noticed. I didn't know it then, but there was something missing inside of me.
My moment happened during one of the many high school lunch hours that I spent sitting quietly, eating my lunch, and trying to stay out of the "cool kids" line of fire. On this day, I looked up and scanned the room, making sure not to make eye contact with anyone that could make the rest of my day, or even week, miserable. At the table next to mine, there was a guy sorting cards out.
These weren't regular playing cards. They were cards from a collectible card game, Magic: The Gathering, and I'd never seen them before. I barely knew the guy, but I'd seen him hanging with the same group that my older sisters chummed around with. And that's when it happened.
I took a chance.
I got up from my seat, and walked over to him, and asked about the cards. What are they? How do I play? Where can I buy some?
He could have told me to bugger off, or mind my own business. But he didn't. Instead, he invited me to join him. I was accepted. And we spent many a lunch hour playing cards instead of eating. Card games turned into Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games. Lunch hours turned into late nights and broken curfews. We became good friends, and had a whole circle of guys that played with us.
I was good at these games. They require the exact kind of logic that my brain seems to have hard-wired into it. For the first time in my life, I was cool because I was a geek.
I know what you're thinking: "It's a game, what's the big deal?"
But here's why it changed my life.
Gaming gave me something I had in common with other people. It helped me forge friendships, some of which will last a lifetime. I also found that playing these games gave me a creative outlet. Something to focus my excess energy on that would help me build something great. They were only games, but I built worlds, went on journeys, defeated powerful enemies, and created glorious characters that live on even today.
Suddenly I had a social circle.
I had a life.
Gaming gave me what I was missing in my life: Confidence. And that's worth more than anything in the world.
From that moment on in my life, I learned to speak and act with confidence. I had friends that would back me up. I had something to go to school for other than just learning. My life moved in a whole new direction because of the one moment somebody decided to include me in a game.
Like my character Seth from The Time Weaver, I learned that the secret that would gain me many great things in my life was confidence. I could try new
things, and be good at them. Really good. And if I failed, I could try again, or try something different.
Since then, I've played countless games, met a great many people, and generally moved on with my life. But looking back, I wonder where my life would be if I didn't have the kind of confidence in myself that I do today. Would I have met my wife? Would I have my two beautiful children today? One can never be sure.
What I do know is that playing these games has given me a wealth of material to draw from when writing my books, the confidence to write them down and know that I'm creating something great, and above all, friends to share them with.
Gaming changed everything.
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