[Promoted from our inbox, here’s another fantastic Guest Writer! Chris Leddy shares a touching story about why he loves video games and why that’s all the justification he needs. He’s a British games journalist dabbling in the world of PR and Comms on the side. When he’s not drinking tea or playing games publicly deemed as awful (Can Lost Planet 2 get a little love?) he can be found over on twitter, incessantly babbling about Mass Effect and Dark Souls.]
Throughout my life I’ve played video games; I don’t mean some, I mean a lot – a whole bunch of them, a metric shit tonne, If you will. I started young and I never finished, so here I am today at the age of 21 with a Gamerscore of 41, 000, over 80 titles in my Steam catalogue, another 20 odd in my GOG library, at least two whole Wii games and a couple of PS3 titles as well, not to mention a backlog from every other generation. I display them with pride in my bedroom back home but when I recently moved out I left a lot of them behind or packaged them up and slid them into hidden nooks and crannies.
I’d lived my life as that guy who played games and I always felt the need to justify it to people, the thing was, no one ever cared – I was never that guy who only had games in his life, they were my escape yet I still found myself exploiting my own problems as a justification for loving this medium.
When I moved away and into my new life I found new friends, some of them played games, some didn’t. I’ve always tried to gap myself away from people who explicitly revolve their life around this great interactive media because of the negative stigma that sometimes holds true. That and the fact that I’ve always found extremists in any career, hobby or belief to be some of the most annoying people you’ll ever have the misfortune of running into.
However, one of my newer friends had never played a game in her life; she wasn’t explicitly against them, but she was aware of the nerdy social constructs that start to get flags waving. When I told her about my passion and hobby after a meal one night, she was a little confused. “But…You’re normal…?” She said – I laughed and whilst my memory escapes me, I’m sure I said something partially witty as a retort.
My friend grew to just accept the fact that I liked games, it wasn’t until she came around to my apartment and spent 45 minutes playing Super Mario for the first time that she kind of got it – a little; or so I thought? She genuinely enjoyed it and it was an odd experience to watch, I found it strangely difficult to comprehend someone who’d never picked up a pad or console before and just dug in, it was like a social experiment with her starring as the little hamster running around a maze, picking up coins and jumping on Goombas.
Even though she enjoyed it I felt she questioned my motives; why games? Why not pick up a good book? “They teach you things, ya’ know!” as my more elderly family members would say. “Staring at that screen will turn your eyes square!” they’d exclaim, dropping some real heavy scientific knowledge on me.
After being good, close friends for about five months we went for our regular dinner together just before we both left to go visit our family members back home. We live on the opposite sides of the country so this would be our last meeting until University resumed a month and a half later.
“Did I ever tell you why I like video games?” I asked her as we both dug into the great British Student meal time that is Nandos (Seriously, it’s just Chicken, lots of Chicken).
“Cos you’re a nerd?” she replied jokingly – I laughed, I didn’t care; the conversation dropped for a good ten minutes and then it came up again, after we’d sort of tipped the mood talking about our pasts and such.
“It’s actually down to my upbringing” – Shit; now that’s a party stopper, you know when someone says that you’re about to get a whole world of explanation and a sob story.
“My family lost a son; my brother, just before I was born.” I explained to her the ins and outs of the story, she apologized according to human social standards and I told her it wasn’t necessary also according to human social standards, but then I drew it back to video games. I explained to her why video games were always there for me.
It’s not like my parents weren’t there for me as a kid, but they found it hard, they’d just lost a nine year old son to a brain tumor and I was the replacement, a new child without the personality and the quirks that their previous loved one had.
My Dad took it the hardest and it’s only within the past year or so that he’s begun treating me as though I were his son; probably because I’m a man now. I’m not like my would-have-been elderly brother was, he didn’t get the chance to be my age.
I was aware of it from a very young age, my mother and brother would release balloons in the back garden every year on a specific date and the house would feel extremely soulless around his birthday, Christmas and the date he died. During those times when my house was null and void of feeling, video games were my blanket. They kept me occupied, happy and gave me hope; there were these people in games that went through huge losses, what may seem trivial to us now because of technology updates weren’t trivial then, through trials and tribulations the hero kept going, kept fighting for what they thought was right, whether it was their Princess that needed rescuing again or their world that needed saving. There were stories of heroes that had lost their families, been banished from their homes, had their loved ones kidnapped and yet they kept going, giving me the inspiration I always thought I needed and that was my justification for loving them.
When I more recently broke up with my girlfriend of two years I returned to that shell, I curled up in my bed for about two weeks straight and played Animal Crossing, I even started my World Of Warcraft subscription again, but I got out of that hole and I realized that whilst I may love video games for being there, there’s a whole lot of reasons to love them – I don’t need an excuse to climb aboard the Normandy one more time, I don’t need an excuse to praise the sun, I do not need an excuse to spend as many hours as I like playing my favorite games. I have no one to justify it to; so that makes me a nerd?
Well, alright; I don’t think I care anymore. Call me a nerd, call me a geek; these are my hobbies and I love them, I don’t need tragedy and remorse to justify that.
Video games: I love you and thank you for being there for me, for teaching me all the things I needed, for giving me inspiration and hope in some of my dark, dark times. I hope you continue to be there for me, but even If you weren’t, I’d still love you all the same.