A Gamer’s Life
How TPA Changed Mine
I have not been with TPA (The Panic Attacks) from the beginning; I even started out as a rival. My first memory of the panic attacks were the frustrated yells of Headshot Hat cursing my ghost skills before he killed everyone else on my team. It was 1 flag CTF (Capture the Flag) on relic and it was a fun game that my clan lost. I thought that was it, we would remain friendly adversaries that might occasionally team up for a night of custom games. I was wrong. That one simple clan match in 2005 changed my life, I just didn’t know it yet.
My clan, the Forefathers, were good but flawed. They were good guys, but lousy leaders. After some hilariously way-too-serious-for-a-video-game inner clan politics occurred, I made my exit. I was a teenager and liked to hold a grudge, so instead of being mature and moving on I found TPA’s website and filled out my application in hopes of getting back at my former team. It worked almost immediately. Still wearing my green TPA recruit uniform, we randomly got matched up against the Forefathers in a matchmade clan match (before bungie did away with the playlist). I was excited and nervous, and I remember practically screaming at my new clan members “HOLY CRAP IT’S THE FOREFATHERS”, to which my new leader Cannbisaurus responded with charming confidence “yeah lets fuck em’ up.” After that match it started to become clear that I had found something special. I didn’t know what it was yet but something was there and I could feel it.
First, the professional side of TPA. As soon as I got through my probationary peon rank and was promoted to member I gained access to more of the “panicroom”, TPA’s forum and base of operations. They had entire threads for strategy for each map and game type. Each map had call outs and names for landmarks that each member was required to memorize. If you didn’t know or couldn’t execute a certain strategy a staff member would take you into a custom game and show you the ins and outs. When a match started it was quiet save for the “commanding officer”, IE: Cannabis, to lay out the plan. Everyone had a job, everyone knew their role, and they excelled at textbook implementation. It was not uncommon for a Bomb or CTF game to be over in less than a minute.
I was completely new to this type of competitive game play. I had played with very good players before, some even better than the majority of the TPA members, but it was always about the individual. To take a sports cliché, most people I knew played for the name on the back, not the one on the front. This couldn’t be more untrue for TPA. Communication was key, and the team winning was priority number one. Kill-to-death ratios were a joke, the stats they looked for were assists and shots fired. Those stats meant you were helping your teammates, and if they were high enough that most likely meant we won. Numerous times the game would be over with TPA victorious, and you would hear a player from the opposing team yell out something along the lines of “you guys suck, look at my kills vs yours.” To which you would hear an almost synchronized rebuttal of “SCOREBOARD”. TPA was competitive, they communicated, they strategized, they were organized, they evolved and they won. I was in gaming heaven – and that was only side A of this life changing soundtrack.
Now for the personal side. My teen years were hard for me. My parents got a divorce and that turned my world upside down and pushed me into moving in with my older sister in another state. She was amazing, but she was a 20 year old college student with her own life. She did her best to give me a stable home but it’s not easy raising a pissed off teenage boy who isn’t your own. I sunk a lot of time into gaming as an escape, with Halo being the biggest sink. In a time when I felt alienated by most of my family and friends, members of TPA stepped up for me. At first they were just there, friends to talk to, peers to vent with. Often times a gaming session would become just me and another sitting in a lobby talking until six in the morning. For the emotionally unstable teenage delinquent that I was, it was a two pronged therapy session. Spend a couple hours shooting people and then talking shit out for another couple hours. I can’t adequately put into words the impact this had on my life. I felt out of place and ignored by most of my family and “rl”(real life), friends but these guys and girls that I had never met would make time for me.
When I moved out on my own I wasn’t yet 18 and couldn’t afford most things. I had Halo, but the idea of buying any new games was a very funny joke I would tell myself for a giggle every now and then. In came TPA. When most of us migrated to WoW different members took turns helping me pay for my account. When the new expansion came out, one guy sent it to me out of the blue. They’ve sent me parts for my computer, and even ordered me a pizza because I was hungry. It wasn’t just me either; there was an xbox that got sent around the US to different members’ abodes when theirs went to crap, a laptop that was lent to keep a dedicated member in the game, and on and on it goes. The Panic Attacks became my virtual home, and the members my very real family.
There have been hundreds of people all over the country and across both the Atlantic and Pacific that have worn the TPA tag. We were a power house that went undefeated in clan matches during the height of halo 2. We were late to the game in WoW but carved out our own legacy in that universe as well; we had dominant arena teams and server first raid achievements. Many of us have proudly carried the TPA moniker across countless games, albeit with much less organization than in the past. Like the Goonies though, we never say die and are on the rise once again. The Panic Attacks has always had its own style of competitive gaming blended with heart and soul, and we continue to keep that alive. My hope is that one day a different pissed off teenager will have their life changed by this dysfunctional, supportive, hilarious, diverse, competitive, caring, and crazy family we call TPA.