[Dare to Share is a community-submitted collaborative effort by gamers that seeks to put forward the stories that show the positive side of video games--the side you won't hear about in mainstream media.]
This article and question really resonated with me. Far too often I hear and experience all these negative [associations]to gaming and it saddens me. I mean sure when you like some games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, you’d think this industry is filled with nothing but violent poison, but it’s so much more than that…Here’s my story, I don’t want to go into too much detail though so I hope you don’t mind.
I’ve always been a hard working person. I push myself not because I have something to prove to the world but because I believe that through constantly pushing oneself, we can learn to grow and better ourselves. During my second year at University I remember things were going quite well. I was an A-student and I was working hard to earn my degree. But then something happened in my family and everything went to hell. I became depressed and struggled to deal with anything really. I fell from an A aggregate to D and barely passed that year. My mind was filled with the darkest of thoughts, happiness became a foreign emotion….
I hardly got any sleep, so I decided to start a new game. I got The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky for the PSP and, man, it was the first thing in almost a year to truly make me smile. I became so engrossed in the game that nothing else mattered. I found my focus and was able to lift myself up and move on. I look back sometimes and wonder how I managed. I’m now happily married and am working as a software developer.
People say that you can’t escape reality and that you have to deal with your problems. Sure, video games are an escape, but they don’t make the problem go away. They do, however, make it easier to deal with and give you that rope you need when you no longer have anything [else]to hold onto….
It hurts me when I see the media try to spin a story labeling video games as one of the ultimate bad influences on today’s youth, especially when all gaming has ever done for me is help me become a better person and keep me out of depression. There are many great memories I can share but I want to share one of my most recent. At the end of 2012 I was diagnosed with a severe case of Ulcerative Colitis and a few other nasty things. I had to undergo surgery. I’ve been in and out of the hospital, was unable to work for a very long time, and I couldn’t help but feel depressed. I distanced myself from everyone and everything and became very angry.
My girlfriend, who saw what I was going through, started bringing me new games as often as possible. With these I was able to get lost in worlds and deal with my problems and emotions by helping others in these digital realms. I even tried online gaming with strangers for the first time, something I had never done because I’d always been afraid to talk to new people. I now have all of these friends that I talk to on a regular basis outside of gaming. It even pushed me to join a few forums, make a Twitter account, and meet new people.
I know some will read this and say “but maybe he only plays safe games so he’s a bad example”. I invite anyone to check my trophies (PSN: Orejillz). You will see I play mostly mature games which tend to be a bit on the violent side. Through these same games I have met some of the best people I have ever come across. If these games have influenced me to do anything, it is to reach out to people I otherwise wouldn’t have and invite them to play. In a way these same games people are condemning as “evil” are what saved my life and are why I’m able to smile today.
My name is Erika. I am Chaz‘s wife, and mom to the kid featured in Next-Gen Gamers. From reading any of the Next-Gen Gamers articles, you can tell gaming is something we kind of like around the house. Here is my side of the story on the family gaming, and how it led up to becoming such a huge part in our life.
Playing games happened early in my life. Going over to my Grandma’s meant playing on the Nintendo, and yelling at a laughing dog. Sometime later I received a Gameboy Color for Christmas, and so did my sister. She got Pokemon Blue, or Red, or whatever she didn’t have my Yellow. Obviously Yellow was the BEST VERSION EVER AT THAT TIME! Anyway, we were hooked. Collecting all the little creatures we could and trying to beat the game before one another was pretty much the only thing we were okay with sharing.You see, my younger sister and I were born two years and one day apart. That meant that even though we weren’t twins, we still had to share everything (including birthday parties). It caused a rift between her and myself, but Pokemon brought us a bit closer. We could share, willingly, and have fun. We later had to share a Sega Genesis, and, later on, a PS2. We couldn’t share the Genesis all that well. I later hoarded the console all to myself, but the PS2 was like the Pokemon experience. We kept trying to one-up another on Dance Dance Revolution. Yes, I LOVED DDR, and memorized the moves. Needless to say, anyone who came over got their butts handed to them by either myself, or my sister.
Somewhere between my younger years and early adulthood, I stopped gaming. Not because I didn’t like it anymore, but because I couldn’t deal with how I was treated by a former boyfriend. Anything I did was “luck”, or me cheating. I didn’t have a single drop of gaming skill in my body to him, and rather than be insulted for winning a match, I gave up gaming, and pretty much half of my freaking soul.I’m just going to skip ahead to when I first started dating Chaz, since this can be an incredibly long story. I knew Chaz was “the one” when I couldn’t deal with it all anymore. Our roommates were playing (and failing hard) at Hunter: The Reckoning. Jokingly I said we should give it a try, and you know what? Perfect team. Him and I were unstoppable in that game. We would yell, hurl friendly insults, and laugh. He was my best friend, and it became clear that he was going to be my player 2.
I hate to admit this, but I got close to losing him. About three years ago he suffered a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. Over a month after his stroke I was finally able to take him home. Him and I played Borderlands together as a form of occupational therapy. It helped him regain fine motor skills in his left hand. We also bought Wii Fit Plus to help him regain his balance. Gaming went from recreational to therapeutic, and I honestly believe that he recovered a lot faster with the help of gaming. It kept him occupied, and not as stressed as repetitive motions. I had asked beforehand what the occupational therapist and physical therapist thought about this, and they explained the benefits of gaming as a form of therapy. In fact, they had Wiis there that were used to help patients regain their balance and motor skills. Ever see an elderly woman yell and laugh at digital penguins? I have, and it is probably the most amazing thing to see after someone has been through what they have.
Our oldest [child]is starting to really get into gaming now. We love breaking out the Lego games that we’ve collected, and I even handed down my Gameboy Color and Pokemon Yellow to him. Seeing him enjoy that little treasure of childhood brings a smile on my face. Seeing him and Chaz play together is not only hilarious, but also brings them closer. Chaz can’t run with him, or ride a bike. He does have his limitations, and gaming gives them something they can bond with.We share gaming as a family. From Lego, to Skylands, to Pokemon old and new. Our family gaming time is something we do together, and something that my husband and I enjoy passing down to our children. Games have mended relationships, strengthened new ones, healed both mind and body, and are just all around fun! What have video games done for me? A whole hell of a lot. More than they should, and I’m very thankful for that.
[Gamers are people too. To focus on how video games breed violence, killers, and criminals is unfair, unjust, and unrepresentative of the medium. The real stories you have just read were written by real people who have had their lives changed for the better by video games. It's time for the world to learn that video games are so much more than just gun simulators. They are both teachers and friends, guidebooks and support models. It's time the world opened its eyes a little wider so it can see video games the way we see them, and see exactly why we love them so much. If you want to get involved, check out our plan here.]