From my earliest memories of playing Manic Miner on a BBC Micro, video games have been a big part of my life. They give me a sense of immersion like my other big hobby, mountain biking, where I don’t (or can’t) think about anything else. My body and my mind are silenced as they are put to work on the task at hand.
Games are a form of entertainment that has stayed with me, enriching my life into my adult years. They have been far more than just entertainment. They are a way for me to connect with a deeper part of myself.
Throughout my childhood as a small ginger-haired boy who was bad at football, games like Dungeon Master on the Amiga were somewhere I could discover my potential. If a game was hard, and I beat it, then I felt immense satisfaction and reward. They were something that I was good at, which gave me a sense of conviction that there would be other things I’d be good at too.
Then, as an adult who had seen this potential come to fruition in my busy home and work life, games became a place where I could find some distance and a break from life’s stresses. Playing Dark Souls wasn’t only a way to taste achievement like when I was younger, but also a way to enjoy having control over a predictable and ordered fantasy world.
I never needed this more than when life (as it does) threw some curve balls my way. The loss of my father to cancer, family issues and work pressures led to a nervous breakdown. But ironically, this is also when games were squeezed out. With them went my usual way to cope and self-regulate, and reconnect with hope and potential.
Getting my life back has, in part, meant finding a way back to the games I loved. It’s a long process and not one that’s ever finished. But as I’ve reestablished a rhythm with games, both on my own and with my family, they remain something that keeps me going (and something I love to share).
Holding onto unique personal potential in the face of unexpected challenges
This outcome arises from the following 4 milestones over the span of 26 years, from 13 - 39 years-old: