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Growing up in a family of 12, you get a sense of community. We were all friends, we all played and laughed with each other, but my favorite times were when my brother's friends came over to play our Nintendo 64. It was the newest, coolest console at the time, and one of my brother's friends would sometimes bring his own copy of Super Smash Bros. That was my absolute favorite game. I dreamed for the weekends when I would get to watch my brother and his teenage friends brawl it out on our twenty inch TV as some of the coolest characters I've ever seen. "When I grow up, I'm gonna have friends just like this," I would tell myself.
Fast forward six or so years later: I was in middle school and regularly, I hear about people getting invited to birthday parties and people just hanging out over the weekend. My cousin, who I thought was my closest friend, was one of those people. He would come back to school after a weekend and tell me all about his adventures with his friend he had over the weekend. It seemed like everyone had friends they liked to have over. No one ever asked me to come over, though. I didn't mind it all that much, because I had four brothers all around my age, and we made some great memories over those weekends. I'll always remember the great matches we had as clones and droids in Star Wars: Battlefront. I would always get frustrated that I wasn't good enough to become the hero, but occasionally, my older brother would hand me his controller. I would get my ten seconds of fame as I was sure to get myself killed by an NPC in that amount of time. I really loved that time I spent with my brothers, but they'd easily get sick of playing games. And of course they had their friends over regularly.
I would never feel comfortable asking people to come over for no reason, because I felt like they had a better place to be. There was one day each year, however, where I could invite people over without feeling guilty, and they would even bring me gifts for me just inviting them over. Somehow, someway, though, my birthday party never ended up being what I wanted it to be. I would just want to sit down, play some Diddy Kart Racing, or Star Wars: Battlefront, but it always devolved to us playing hide and seek or even one year, they played with my younger brother's Beyblades. That was my least favorite. They came to MY birthday party, but MY BROTHER was the center of attention. I had never felt more betrayed in my life.
Towards the end of middle school, I found the solution to my problems: League of Legends. I had never played games online before, and since my parents were always skeptical to pay for games, it was perfect that it was free. The reason I found it was my cousin. He played it and he was so good! I thought that if I got as good as him, then I'd feel comfortable enough to ask him if he wanted to play with me. It was the perfect solution to my problem, I would get to play with friends, but I didn't have to invite them over to my house. I played and practiced for hours a day. I never had trouble with school, so my parents didn't really worry about me. I just had to convince my siblings to let me play when they wanted to get on the computer. I worked my butt off, and after what felt like forever, I finally reached level 30. The very next day, I walked up to my cousin, who I believed was my best friend, and I worked up the courage to ask if he would want to play League with me.
"I don't play that game anymore," he said.
I was crushed. I was devastated. All I had ever wanted was to play games with a friend. Just one friend would do. I just wanted to play with a friend, but I told myself that it didn't matter. I could just play by myself and get diamond rating. Then I'd be able to brag to people when they found out that I play League of Legends. Along this journey to climb the ranked ladder, I started watching some YouTubers. At first, it was just educational channels that would help me learn all the finer points of the game, but then I stumbled on some other channels. Ones where they played with friends. Watching Sky Williams' videos in particular gave me the impression that you have to play games with friends to have the true experience. That in order to really have fun, you need friends. I NEEDED FRIENDS. To this day, I struggle with this thought. I actually have friends now, but they just make fun of me for playing League. I'm glad I have friends, especially since I firmly believe that I didn't have any friends back then. I didn't really choose these friends, though. They kinda just pulled me into their group, because they hated to see me lonely.
I love video games. I love my friends. I would love to have friends that I can play video games with. I'm sure there are people who wouldn't mind playing with me, but I don't want to. I'm an introverted gamer who plays online games. I escape to the world of Runeterra on a daily basis, so I can forget about the fact that my friends disapprove of me doing it. I feel real emotions while I'm playing. I get angry, I get sad. I'm not lonely. Each match, I play with nine other people who have the same goal as me. We all just want to have fun. And I have so much fun playing by myself.