gaming, Humour, life

How Hearthstone lifted me out of depression

Hearthstone Screenshot 12-11-17 23.55.16
Before I begin, I must proclaim that this is NOT an advertorial for Blizzard.
This is a true life story. This is my story.
Before I moved to Shanghai in 2014, I installed this game called Hearthstone on my laptop. Prior to that, I had never played fantasy card games. But my friend Gene convinced me that this was a lot of fun. I thought I’d just give it a try. After all, it’s free-to-play.
Woah! Free and fun? Surely you can’t really go wrong with that.
In a nutshell, each player in Hearthstone starts with 30 cards of his choosing and 30 HP (Health Points). You place cards with minions on the board to attack your opponent or his cards. Some cards allow you to cast spells too. Reduce the opponent’s HP to zero and you win.
What makes the game amazing is the myriad number of combos you can execute using different cards that synergise with one another. You have to earn most of the cards by purchasing card packets using in-game gold or real cash. Some cards are more powerful than others. But they never guarantee you victory.
The period of my life when I played Hearthstone the most was when I was out of a full-time job in Shanghai.
I was depressed (I reckon even clinically). I knew that I left behind a good career in Singapore to try my luck in a different city. That feeling of failure tormented me for months as I desperately scrambled to earn whatever I could from freelance writing gigs.
I spent time most of my time feeling sorry for myself, binge eating, getting drunk and playing Hearthstone.
Perhaps a part of me was trying really hard to prove to myself that I wasn’t a loser for being in such a state, because for an entire week I was obsessed with trying to attain a Top 10 ranking in the game (Rank 1 is the highest, Rank 23 the lowest).
I got so obsessed that I even started writing down the cards my opponents played so that I could determine how I could best play my other cards.
I won some. I lost some. I never made Top 10.
I still remember the night I almost smashed my laptop. It was 12.30 am. I was home alone. The lights were off. I was on a massive losing streak, be it in Casual or Ranked mode. It felt like a reminder of what a loser I was in life.
I wouldn’t say that I had a bad deck of cards. After all, I had gone on a winning streak with the same deck on previous occasions. But on this night, everything was just against me.
For most of the games, I was getting dealt a really bad start of (big mana) cards. The next few cards I got were equally bad. I never stood a chance.
I was livid after losing the 6th consecutive game. I was screaming at the screen and taunting the opponent. Blinded by rage, I started making mistakes. I lost. Again and again.
I was exhausted by Game 10. I just wanted to go to bed. But I continued to click on the PLAY button simply because I believed that I could not possibly continue losing.
Well, I did. I mean, I wasn’t even thinking straight anymore.
And then there were a few utterly frustrating games when the opponent turned the tides and won even though I was on the cusp of victory.
I can’t remember exactly how many games I lost.
I think it could actually have been 13.
Bleary-eyed and furious, I shut the laptop down, poured myself a whisky, and started to think about what was happening. This was when I realised how Hearthstone is really like life itself.
Sometimes life just deals you a bad hand
My first job in Shanghai was just a bad draw in life, and in that dark moment, all I could do was rage about how unfair life was. To me, the game was over. My life was over. I was trapped in a never-ending cycle of self-pity. I just wanted to blame everything and everyone else.
But you see, shit happens. It happens all the time. To all of us. And there’s nothing we can do to fucking change it. We know this. But yet we refuse to accept it.
The solution? Accept what is happening. Get on with your life. Stop harping on shit you cannot change. 
Sometimes we are so consumed by emotions that our judgement gets clouded
Okay, it’s only natural that we get overly emotional in some instances. I mean, how do you think you’d react if you caught your girlfriend in bed with another man?
For most people, the first reaction would be to beat the shit out of the bastard.
I doubt anyone would calmly say: “Hey darling, cheating on me ain’t cool. Why are you doing this? I think you need to get dressed and we need to talk this out in the living room. Hey Mr. Big Dick, please see yourself out of my home. By the way, nice tattoo. Where did you get that from?”
The same could be said for the situation I was in. I was in a dark phase in my life where I was constantly admonishing myself for being a failure. I knew I had to get back my career back on track but I just couldn’t stop thinking about how much of a failure I had been. I was so focused on the shit I was drowning in I didn’t even see the escape ladder that was just beside me.
The solution? Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Clear your head. Think.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself on the verge of success, only to fail spectacularly
I had a pretty decent life back in Singapore. I managed three magazines. I liked my job and my colleagues. I moved to Shanghai with hopes of expanding my horizons. But I fell flat on my face. I found it incredibly difficult to deal with this. I couldn’t stop wondering how my life would’ve been if I just played it safe and stuck to my previous life.
But then I realised that I could not possibly always succeed at whatever I do. No one does. People have to fail to learn. It’s just the way things are. There is no sure-fire way to winning in life. You just have to find your way around.
The solution? Embrace failure. Treat each mistake as a lesson.
Sometimes life is just fucking random
Most gamers share the same religion. We believe in RNGesus. You know, this entity is kind of like Jesus, but a little different.
Jesus says we’d go to heaven if we believe in him. RNGesus says we might go to heaven, we might go to hell, or we might just end up becoming a frog. It really depends on his mood.
Anyway, RNG means Random Number Generator, which kinda means some of the things you get in the game is down to pure randomness. You could get 200 gold from the chest. You could get a pair of soiled undies. At least in terms of the loot in a chest, nothing is guaranteed.
And, again, that’s life for you. Just like with the creation of a good deck of cards in Hearthstone, we spend so much time in life determining the best combination of things to do to achieve success. Some people combine their talent with hard work to get a promotion. Some people combine working out at the gym and banging the boss to achieve the same goal.
But because life is so fucking random (I mean, how else would you explain getting bird crap on your head?), there’s really no 100% guarantee that we will succeed even if we do have the best cards in hand.
Of course, we can’t just sit back and expect things to be done on their own. We still need to proactively plan for our futures. We still need to try.
As a freelance writer, I don’t get a steady volume of jobs. Some months are packed with assignments. Some months are quiet. It’s pretty darn random.
The solution? Keep the faith. Put in the effort to try. Remind yourself that nothing is impossible, even if you think it is close to impossible.
Sometimes we take life a tad too seriously
I was telling a friend about this losing streak and he said: “Relax man, it’s just a game.”
I think the same could be said for life – we really should learn to relax and slow down from time to time.
I used to be so caught up in the rat race. I wanted to climb the career ladder quickly. I would constantly look for ways to make more money than my full-time job paid me. I saw contentment as a weakness. I believed in being worked to the bone. I saw this as passion. But it was merely greed.
I’ve since come to realise that we don’t always have to be running in overdrive and aiming to reach the top. Life isn’t just about earning lots of money and being successful, just like how Hearthstone isn’t all about winning. We often get so obsessed with getting what we think makes us successful that we forget that there is so much more to life.
The solution? Relax. Remind yourself it’s okay to slow down and smell the roses. Explore pursuing what you truly love doing. 
I’m glad to say I’ve emerged from that dark period a more enlightened individual.
I also play Hearthstone a little differently now – I just aim to have fun, as illustrated in this screenshot.
For those of you who don’t know what this is about, let me briefly explain what’s happening:
1. I’m the player at the bottom of the screen.
2. I have two 30/30 The Ancient One cards on the table. (I used Faceless Manipulator on the first one).
3. You get one of these crazy 30/30 cards when you end your turn with two “9/9 Blood of The Ancient One” cards.
4. It took me four games and some tweaks to my card deck to pull this off.
Yeah I created a deck just to make this happen. You know, just for shits and giggles. Yeah, I won after this turn (the opponent was sporting enough not to concede). But winning or showboating was never the objective.
I just wanted to see if the my deck would allow me to do something like that.
Because I now find more satisfaction from the journey than from the end result.



2 thoughts on “How Hearthstone lifted me out of depression

  1. dexter1984 says:

    Shanghai is great isn’t it? I still think it’s a good choice to leave Sg and try something while we are young. Experience is more important for sure. Alot of my friends won’t get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dexter, you’re absolutely right. Those who have never lived outside their home country for some time would never get it. Coming to Shanghai and going through all I’ve gone through has been the best thing in my life. I was recently back in SG for CNY and I was constantly reminded of the person I was supposed to become had I continued living there. I’m glad I’m who I am now. Do you live in Shanghi too?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s