In June this year, my husband and I headed to India to see 5 people we had never met. This included 2 Russians, an Indian, a German, a Norwegian and myself, of course. And I've only known these people I've never met for 3 years.
Let's rewind a bit...
In 2011, I started playing a team 'computer' game with a few random friends from church called DotA (Defence of the Ancients). It involves 2 teams of 5 who go against each other to try destroy the others base (city). It is a ton of fun when you get 10 people together in what you call a LAN (all players on a network together, but not online). It sometimes involved hours of gameplay (if a few games), even late into the night or morning. It can also be seriously competitive.
Then they brought out DotA 2, but since it was only online, it mostly died out among the group. My husband, a good friend and myself played a lot at some point, but eventually it was just me playing quite regularly. It became my pass time (like anyone who enjoys watching TV in the evenings).
In 2013, after struggling for a year to fall pregnant, my depression started. My life revolved around this obsession of not being able to have a baby and I could think of nothing else. DotA then became the only way my mind rested and stopped thinking about it. It was not always a healthy escape but it got me through so much.
It was more than just a game.
When Lisa met Gwen and David
At some point during all this, I made some friends online. The first being Gwen and David (an Indian and Norwegian). They were some of the rare decent people playing online (online gaming is definitely PG13 sometimes). We then threw a Russian into the mix, Vlad, who invited his friend, Kastyan.
We were a nice group of 5 and even started taking DotA more seriously and practicing team games (DotA by the way is a huge online competitive game between teams from all over the world. It has become a sort of online sport, involving multimillion dollars prizes for the top teams). Our 'leader' David taught and took us a more than just random public matches. It was incredibly fun, and as you can tell, incredibly social too.
A few months later, my husband and I adopted our daughter, but since she was such an incredible sleeper, the regular DotA playing continued.
Sometime in the last year, 2 more good friends joined in - Sebastian and Ørjan (a German, and another Norwegian), friends of David. Also down to earth and fun to play with (I can't tell you enough how rare it is).
A Trip to India
Then one day, our Russian Vlad went on a trip around Asia, where he would eventually land up in India, and Gwen and him got to chatting about meeting up. By some weird chance, we were all able to get to India at the same time (except for Ørjan :( ) so serious plans to meet each other began, and late June we all headed to India.
And it was FRIGGIN AWESOME. We got on better than I could have ever imagined. These 6 random strangers (plus our better halves) got on so well. We were all chilled, no one was annoying and we all went with the flow. It was the best trip of my life. We did get to play a game or two one of the days, but mostly we were a group of friends exploring Bangalore. It is more than just a game.
Our team name was original Technical Assassins (David's dorky name) and we eventually became Low Expectations, because, expectations were low :))
Clinton (Gwen) - our token India. He is the youngest among us (now 21), by far the most laid back and friendly (I think it's an Indian thing). Great sense of humour especially when it comes to Indian jokes. We just love going at each other with African and Indian jokes.
David (lykketroll) - our leader and glue. A VERY patient person who takes all our jokes and mocking in his stride (unless it's that time of the month LOL). He is a teacher IRL (in real life) a generally a really nice guy.
Vlad (vladinstein) - the coolest Russian you will ever meet. He too is so chilled and never makes life difficult for poor David. He happily plays the role no one else wants to, and translates all the Russian speakers for us.
Kastyan (no consistent nickname) - Constantine in English. He is our fiery Russian with probably the least patience, but he has an incredible sense of humour, especially for someone who's English is a second language. I reckon he's my Russian twin personality, apart from the fiery temper (in DotA that is). Also, we had never seen his face. The rest of us have profile pics on Skype and Facebook, but not Kastyan. It was the weirdest seeing him for the first time because in 3 years we'd never seen his face. Lol.
Sebastian (5eb) - our token German. A fun, down-to-earth guy. Sometimes. Man it's funny when he gets frustrated. He just growls and curses himself. But always fun to play with and a very nice guy.
Ørjan (Haggisofnorway) - our 'cool' friend. He was probably that popular kid in high school. I am uncertain why he plays DotA but he plays nonetheless. It's fun watching him and David argue, since they are friends IRL. Ørjan always says how bossy and different David is in DotA. He also has a great sense of humour and he and I usually break out in song in game.
Of course there's me too (lisamoo) - I have been classed as the dorkiest, and also the most 'unique' since I am the only girl and black (lol).
I've made some great friendships and travelled across the world to see them.
It's more than just a game.
And here is the proof: