When I was asked to write an article for Dan’s site I was told I could pick any topic or game that interested me. It took only a few moments for me to realize that left only one obvious option — in the same way that for almost three years there was really only one particular game when it came time to boot up the PS4 after work and forget about the long day preceding it.
When Destiny launched in 2014 I had no idea that it was about to become a crippling obsession. Whether it be the world it would launch me into, or the new friends it would introduce me to, all I knew was it looked like a fun way to shoot some aliens with my friends.
While I have always considered myself a gamer, I spent my childhood avoiding games like World of Warcraft in what I imagine is similar to how a hardcore drug user might avoid heroin; there was always the fear that I would like it too much and lose the little bit of a social life that I already had to one of the largest online gaming communities there is.
Destiny was my first dip into the world of massive multiplayer online games and it wasn’t long before I lost myself in its worlds, as I had feared. Between the way too late nights finishing raids (or trying to) with friends, and staying in most weekends to chase down one more slightly lighter-colored piece of equipment to make my character’s outfit look a little bit more appealing, Destiny had its claws in me.
It wasn’t until probably 1,000 hours of gameplay later that I realized it wasn’t the gameplay (and certainly not the story) that kept my interest, it was the relationships I formed with friends both new and old as we took part in exploring the world that Bungie so painstakingly created. Over the course of the last three years I’ve met multiple people online playing Destiny that I now consider to be close friends. Some of us lost touch as our obsession died down towards the end of the first game, but there was no doubt we’d all be back.
Two years ago I spent New Year’s Eve exclusively with Destiny. I wasn’t out crushing drinks with friends in a real-life bar, instead I was plundering around Destiny caves with two new friends I previously had never met, stopping only to watch the ball drop before hurrying back in the hopes of finding new gear for our characters.
To people who don’t play video games, I can only compare the experience to finally finding out there are other people like you out in the world; perhaps for some it’s the same as when you first go to college and find out that hey, there are other people out there who like anime, medieval chess, or any of a thousand other hobbies that in the small world of childhood you felt like you were alone in.
More than any raid kill or new fancy weapon, what I took away from Destiny was the thrill of being part of a larger community that enjoyed the same things I did.
When I got into work on Mondays and co-workers talked about their weekends I would talk about people I met from Germany, or Africa — the conversations we had, the jokes we told over long hours in a game party; people who an introverted nerd such as myself would have never dared open up or spoken to if I ever had the fortune of running into them in public. In Destiny, in video games, I can be myself and not have to worry about labels like geek or loser.
I don’t have to worry about whether that cute girl down the street found me interesting or not — just enjoy myself with like-minded humans who are looking to have a good time on a Saturday night without the mess of bars or where ever it is the cooler people of my age group spend their time these days.
Too often in gaming I see communities torn apart over who can play the best or which new toy is the coolest. If you like Xbox and I like PlayStation then we have to hate each other, because reasons! Destiny helped me realize there can be a flip side to that where people with similar passions can spend time hanging out and getting to know one another because hey, if I like this thing and you like this thing, maybe we’re not that different after all.
In the modern world it seems more and more people are focused on the things that make us different rather than the things that can bring us together. It may sound cheesy (or geeky) but Destiny helped me realize that, even if you’re not the same as someone, you can make real and lasting friendships with people you may never have given the time of day to.
Thank you Destiny, for allowing me to change how I see the world and people around me; for the thrill of watching six strangers come together to accomplish an incredibly daunting task (even if that task involves beating up a 60-foot space wizard with virtual guns and swords). Thank you for a million other reasons anyone who is passionate about something can hopefully relate to. I can’t wait to get my hands on Destiny 2 and embark on new adventures with friends both new and old. I hope to see you out there, Guardians.