Fairyland, Farmville, Ravenwood Fair, Bingo, Mahjong, Solitaire Blitz, Jigsaw Puzzles, Bejeweled Blitz, Scrabble, Rummikub…these are just a few of the games that I’ve been playing online over the past few years. It all started when I stumbled across a garden game on Facebook and overnight my lonely little patch of world expanded into a global network of delightful garden friends. I had never known that such possibilities existed! From that game (name long forgotten), I bounced into others, meeting more wonderful people with each new game. I became very close friends with a woman in Scotland, and we spent the next few years exploring various new games together, having fun helping each other up the levels, and finding that our lives had so much more in common than just some silly games. I hope we meet someday, but suffice to say that she and so many others have so enriched my life that I cannot imagine who I would be now without them in my life.
I know that the games have the potential to be colossal time-wasters (been there, done that), and I also know that people, especially cyber-friends, have the potential to be transient and that everyone has another “real” life outside of cyberspace that they live, and which can at any moment pull someone away from us. One has to be realistic in one’s expectations…enjoying presence while we can, aware of the necessity to always allow others to be other and the freedom to come and go as life demands allow.
But with all of that, with all of the warnings in mind of the dangers of cyberspace, I want to share how much my life has been changed and bettered by both the people I’ve met and the games that I’ve played. Today I’ll focus on the games, tomorrow I’ll share about the social benefits.
Games: when I first started playing games, I was lousy…LOUSY at every single game I tried. I could barely add 2+2 together, and could take agonizingly long minutes to match just a few of those jewels together. I had been ill for sometime before finding these games online, and discovered to my dismay that my brain had atrophied while I was recuperating.
But as frustrating as it was at the time, I hung in there, determined to get my brain power back. I ignored my constant last-place standing on every game’s status boards, and kept plugging away. Little by little, week by week, I could feel my eye-hand co-ordination and reflexes improving. Some of the games required more social skills and even those were helpful in countless ways. After having hibernated myself for many years after several deaths in the family, it was a relatively painless way to reintegrate myself into a social setting…especially when I could come and go as energy and motivation allowed. When things got too stressful or uncomfortable, I merely closed the lid of my laptop, or moved over to one of my logical more solitary games.
Now, today, if I do say so myself, I’m very good at most of those games. I’ve had to close out most of the longer-term games because of how time-consuming they had become. So now I just continue to play various mind-games, and am delighted at how much quicker and brighter my brain has become since those earliest days. For me, the games have been, and continue to be, a vital part of my recovery. And I’m grateful for every person behind the design and production of each one of these games…what a gift to be able to bring to people like me!!
Being a person of faith who used to pray for healing and moan to God about how lonely, isolated and inept I felt, I truly believe that it was no accident that I stumbled into cyberspace when I did. I’ll talk tomorrow about my first day and first posting online and how drastically that moment forever changed my life and brought me to a here-and-now that I could never have imagined that dark, lonely day seven years ago.