Growing up, I was not allowed to play video games. My parents were very against them and claimed that playing video games would cause me to become violent and less intelligent. Their ban didn’t stop me, though. I found ways to play games anyway—such as having a secret Game Boy Color with a copy of Pokémon Blue I borrowed from my cousin. I also got very quick at switching tabs when playing games from Newgrounds on our desktop computer.
For so long, gaming was such a secret, forbidden thing I couldn’t let my parents find out about. It’s a little strange to be writing about it so openly now. I always thought it would be a secret and that I would never play any really big games like Mass Effect or Portal. I would hear friends talking about those games and not realize that I could actually play them too. I didn’t really know that PC gaming was an option, and there was no way I’d be able to hide a console in my parents’ house!
That changed a couple of years ago. I found out about Steam, and got lots of older games for cheap or even for free. One of the first games I got was Portal. I was instantly in love with the look and feel of the game as well as the puzzle aspect. I had never played anything like it and I loved the way it challenged me and forced me to think in new ways. It was Portal that made me realize I wanted to play more games—especially all of the ones my friends were always talking about.
Since I’m catching up on games, a lot of them are pretty cheap, which is nice! I also haven’t played many newer ones, so I don’t mind older-looking graphics. It’s been fun to finally be able to talk to my friends about the games they love. I’ve even made new friends by talking to them about games. Most importantly, however, I think that gaming has made me a better, happier person.
I tend to get frustrated very easily, which is not ideal for playing video games or life in general. I also get stubborn and refuse to give up even after I’ve become frustrated, repeatedly bashing into the problem and not actually getting anywhere. At first I thought this would be a reason to avoid video games. After all, they can be incredibly frustrating. I’ve realized, however, that video games have actually helped me with this issue.
For one thing, I no longer become frustrated as easily as I used to. I think gaming made me used to feeling frustrated, as well as gave me a higher tolerance so it takes longer to happen. I’ve also improved on realizing when I am just getting too frustrated and recognizing that it’s okay to take a step back, relax, and try again later. I can recognize when I may need to try a different tactic or look for help online instead of trying the same thing over and over again. All of this has been helping me in real life.
I have also become a lot more confident. I would never have reached out to FemHype or started my own blog without the confidence boost I’ve gotten from gaming. Part of it is relating to whatever character I’m playing. I see a little of Chell in me in that I won’t give up on my goals. A part of me is now Commander Shepard—surely I can get through a bad breakup or a rough day at work. I saved the universe once, and I’m working on saving it again!
While I wish I had been able to start gaming when I was younger, it’s never too late to start. There’s no way I’m stopping now. I’m having so much fun playing now, and I love the person I’m becoming because of video games.