How Call of Duty Helped Me During a Dark Time In My Life

Call of Duty is made fun of quite often despite being the most popular video game franchise in the world at this point. “Every game is exactly the same. Activision is the devil.” You get the point. People like to really crap on Call of Duty. Sometimes, it’s valid. The games generally do keep the same exact formula with minor alterations to the formula. Regardless of the fact that Call of Duty keeps this general formula, it helped me during a dark time in my life when I was more depressed than I ever had been.

In 2014, I decided to do what I thought I always wanted: go to film school so that I could break into the film industry. Instead, I ended up being completely alone in the middle of Chicago with nobody there to help. Sitting in film classes made me start to hate studying film and completely destroyed my passion in a lot of ways. It made me realize pretty quickly that I didn’t want to make movies anymore. It wasn’t the right thing for me and I don’t regret spending a semester there despite how depressed I was. I had to know for sure if it was right for me and I found out, while suffering.

I would spend an absurd amount of time cooped up alone in my dorm room. During this time, I found a stronger passion for writing about video games and a passion for a video game franchise once again: Call of Duty. I stopped playing Call of Duty after the first Black Ops game came out. I just felt done and burned out with the franchise. I also am in the minority of feeling like Treyarch actually makes the worst COD games (don’t kill me Internet but I prefer Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer).

I decided to pick up Modern Warfare 3…three years late. And I enjoyed the living hell out of it. It kept me from going insane. For some reason, there was still an active player base on the game and it was truly a blast to play. I didn’t bring my PS4 to college with me for some insane reason and was only stuck with my PS3 so I wasn’t able to buy Advanced Warfare (as I would rather buy it on the new platform rather than the old).

Eventually, I went back home for Thanksgiving Break and was basically 100% certain I was going to drop out after this semester (despite my parents being quite unhappy). I bought Advanced Warfare for my PS4 and it kept me so distracted from everything during Thanksgiving Break and when I eventually got back to college after break to finish the semester up. Something about Advanced Warfare just completely clicked with me. I loved the extremely fast movement and I still think to this day, it’s one of the best Call of Duty games (next to COD4 and MW2).

I ended up writing one of my first game reviews on an old IGN blog for the game and it was something I was really proud of writing. Film school made me bored and depressed. When you have professors ranting about how awful Jurassic Park is or managing to make movies just about the dullest thing in the world, I found accomplishment in writing about video games and playing them. Probably the other reason for this is the fact that the school I went to was such a joke and was incredible easy for me to get a 3.8 GPA in (mind you, this is someone who was a B student in high school, sometimes worse).

Essentially, I was sitting around pretty lonely all the time and seemed to found no way of actually making friends, which is probably pretty unhealthy while at college. I’ve never been very good at making friends because of how shy I am, but I’ve always had a couple very close ones that have always supported me. One of my friends back home played hours upon hours of Team Fortress 2 with me every weekend while I was at college. Eventually he got a PS4 and played hours upon hours of Advanced Warfare with me. My social connection with him through playing video games and Call of Duty is what kept me afloat and from being totally and utterly alone. Still to this day, I play online with him at least once a week (primarily Battlefront these days).

I ended up dropping out after that first semester and spending about 9 months at home just working a meaningless minimum wage job for a while. I planned on going back to college and I did that fall. My life improved substantially over those 9 months and into college I would say. Besides playing plenty of video games and Advanced Warfare, I somehow ended up meeting the love of my life on Reddit (strange place for that) in March, a couple months after dropping out. We met up in real life and then we ended up going to the same college together at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, a small liberal arts school that is over 200 years old.

I had all intentions of studying English there, either becoming a teacher of some kind (high school or professor) or a writer (whether I wrote books or did games journalism). I quickly realized that that wasn’t for me either but I took one history course because I had intentions to only minor in it. I ended up loving the class and now it’s a huge passion for me and I have all intentions of securing a Ph.D in history to become a professor now.

You’re probably slightly questioning why I wrote all of this at this point. The main thing I wanted to put out there is that things do get better if you’re feeling lonely or depressed. You’re going to find people eventually or you’re going to find the thing you’re passionate about. For me, it started with playing Call of Duty to keep things okay. It started with just trying to stray away from completely losing it and that worked. Eventually, I crawled out of the hole I was in and found what I wanted and things are pretty great because of it. Whatever people may say about video games or dumb shooters like Call of Duty, they can help people with social connections or to simply distract. That’s all I’m trying to say: things are going to get better.

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