I’m Carlos Rodela, a sketch comedian, video producer and one of the co-hosts of the So Videogames Podcast. During my childhood, I grew up with a looming divorce and regular intervals of yelling around the apartment. My brother and I often retreated into our bedroom to play games. This escape into another world helped us envision a new place to exist, a new land to explore, and somewhere we could feel empowered.
At that time, me aged 10 and my brother aged 4, couldn’t change the environment, but we could distract ourselves with the fantastical video game worlds we entered through the glowing screen. It sounds like such a simple thing, but spending that time with my younger brother exploring the huge worlds of Zelda or Zork was more than a coping mechanism, it was empowerment.
Not only that we could be the hero, but we could discover another world full of whimsy and weirdness where the end of the story could be as unexpected as the beginning.
As time passed and we grew older, the games industry grew up too. Video games were now a big business, and the graphics, audio, and scope were as captivating as any blockbuster film. But unlike films, these were places that enabled me to explore them and choose when or if I would see the ending.
Spaces created by games like Ultima, that were full of life, and artificial intelligence, and were so grand in scope you never wanted to leave. Worlds created by games like Bonk, were just as odd and bizarre as they were impressive. Spaces filled with stories about the possibilities of what could be, rather than the humdrum life outside the bedroom.
After leaving home and heading to college I found new games that continued to affect me. Skyrim was special in that it invited me to not only explore its massive open world but to also shape it. This became a theme I would come back to again and again, most recently with Cyberpunk 2077 and Elden Ring - games that let me take hold of power and decide how to wield it.
With all those hours spent in far-off imaginary lands, I know it can seem like I’m escaping a difficult reality. The truth is that this was actually my way to cope with and find the courage to return to the world and shape it. When life presented hardships and disempowerment I found the strength to hold on to who I might become in the games I played.
To this day those experiences continue to conjure hope, courage, and optimism that stays with me long after I’ve finished playing the game. In a world where everything can seem predetermined, finding a way out can be everything.
Empowered to take charge of situations with hope for positive outcomes.
This outcome arises from the following 6 milestones over the span of 37 years, from 10 - 47 years-old: