To Those Who Have Inspired and Saved Me…

Video Games are an extremely important part of my life. I mean, as regular of a blogger I may not be, I do blog about them and that sort of proves the point of just how much they mean to me. I picked up on video games at a very early age and though I would never admit it at the time, and still have a hard time doing so, games offered me something that the world could not in so many ways… interactivity. This is extremely ironic to be sure, games do nothing but to try to emulate the real world in many different fashions. But for me, I could not be in the real world like others could physically due to my hemophilia. I take pride in my ability to conquer my disease and not let it stop me from doing what I want to. But the reality is, that I cannot do what others do in the same way that others do. This becomes painfully more clear to me with each passing year. I become less and less able to do what others do, but video games offer me an out. I can do what others do in games. I can be who I want to be without the pain that follows suit.

And maybe because of hemophilia, maybe because I’m too smart for my own damn good… but I have not been able to interact with other people in the same way that I know other people interact with each other. I feel very little empathy and it makes it difficult for me to go and reach out to friends or family when I maybe should have in the past. It makes it difficult for me to know when or how to help others who have needed my help in the past. But yet in games, I can helps others without issue. I mean I get to rescue princesses, rule an empire, or even start a family. Yeah, all these experiences are extremely simple compared to real life interactions, but they offer me an ability to interact in a way that I can’t in real life all the same. Even in MMO settings, I  have the ability to interact with people on the other side of the screen in a much more “normal” way than I can in real life. Maybe it is because games are MY world, when people play with me, they are playing in my home turf. Maybe without being face to face I don’t feel as judged, even if I am.

I was reminded of all this over the last few days as I lay ill, not from hemophilia, but just a random virus that has been going around our office. I laid down on my couch and picked up FInal Fantasy 1 to play again for the first time in some time. And was reminded of how ground breaking this was to my feeble 12 year old self. It caused me a great many fines from the local rental store but I just had to play it more. Or how, my grandfather was the first one to give me a console and really introduce me to games at home. Though for the rest of his life he never seemed to understand my obsession with video games, for one glimmering moment he changed my life for better or worse with a pong machine that he likely picked up at a garage sale. Or at Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s house while everyone else was socializing, I would leave the chaos of the party behind in order to go play Pitfall on my cousin’s Atari, thinking how amazing it was because we didn’t have one at home… one of those cousins recently gave me his PS2, somehow seemed very fitting but I don’t think he understands why.  Or after bowling, me and a whole bunch of kids would sit and play the TMNT arcade cabinet as we waited for our parents… though we bowled with each other, I didn’t entirely feel like one of them until we started playing games together. Or when I was hospitalized in second grade, it was an Apple II that comforted me with Carmen Sandiego, Oregon Trail, and some weird game where you hunted monsters that got loose in the town based on clues about the monsters… if someone knows what game I speak, please for the love tell me, haven’t been able to figure it out. And all of the people that I have met over the 20+ years of playing MMOs, every which of one I wish I was still in contact with on a daily basis but life has torn us a part.

And my mother, whom somehow for some reason understood what video games meant to me without saying a word and would bring home her work computer with Karateka so that I could play with it, enrolled me in summer school to learn how to program a Commodre 64, and bought our family a Radio Shack Computer for similar purposes. And honestly never minded a whole god damn much that I sat downstairs playing video games. A lot of people may have called her a bad mother, and am sure she didn’t like me playing that much either. But she dealt with it. Ya know what? I never once have killed a single person, never stole anything of greater value than baseball cards, never done drugs or cigarettes, didn’t have any alcohol in my life until 23 and even still have never binged. All thank you to my mother and video games. I am 36 and I grew up on video games and a better man for it.

For all that and more. Thank you mom, grandpa, Nolan Bushnell, Richard Garriott, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, Chris Sawyer, Will Wright, Satoshi Tajiri, Notch, Yuji Horii and the thousands of other video game developers that have created video games over the last 4 decades. Without you, I would not still be here. Don’t stop doing what you do. Thank you.