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START Unashamed Gamer Level 1: Precontemplation, Origin Story

I feel zero shame for being a gamer. I play online games, RPG, and real-time strategy games. I am a very serious person, and a bit of a workaholic; always thinking  two steps ahead. Gaming is my way of turning off the brain for a while and just live in the moment. Escape life’s anxieties and responsibilities. Remake myself into sometimes impossible things. It’s cathartic, in a way. 

I was the kid in school who always had a book under my arm. I could be found under the hall stairs at lunch with my cup of noodles, a Mountain Dew, and a horror mystery. After school, while most people had their extracurricular activities, I was in the library. It was the time before cell phones and laptops. They existed, people had them, but they weren’t part of everyday life. Think Nokia before the flip phone. I read everything I could get my hands on. I read every sign we passed on the highway. Every cereal box. Of course, all the books I could get my hands on. I even went as far as to read the dictionary, the thesaurus, and all the encyclopedias my small library had to offer. 

My obsession for escaping reality didn’t stop there, though. I loved learning, but really, I loved getting away from my reality. Video games are another media where you can learn a lot from. I found games in middle school. Again, they existed before then, but they were rare in our little farming community. I started with a Nintendo. The original. Yep, Mario Bro’s and Zelda. If you try to tell me Link is a princess, I might cut a bitch. I progressed up the ladder as new technology became available. I worked hard to fund my habit, and boy did it take hard work. New technology is expensive! 

I found worlds inside video games that some people would never experience. Much like reading a book, games are stories, but further than that, they’re communities, knowledge, and even WHOLE UNIVERSES that don’t exist outside the screen. Unlike books, I got to interact. Make the world my own. Which, for someone with anxiety, is quite an enticing offer. I can avoid and control my outcome?! A dream come true. 

I play games because I want to escape the mundane. In the game, life is an adventure. If you spend enough time, you'll be rewarded by your efforts. The unknown is not something to be afraid of but a part that you can explore. You can choose to follow the main quest and enjoy the side quest. Everyone has the equality of opportunity. You might look like an animal but nobody will hate you. There’s just pure acceptance. You'll be respected because of your work. 

“Are you listening to me?” Natalie comes back into focus. I hate ADHD moments where I miss an important moment because my brain is 3% smaller than the average Joe’s, and it gets distracted by anything shiny. I’m not sure how long I have been zoned out thinking about my history with stories and video games before Natalie clued me back in, but I am sure she noticed.

”Yes. You’re upset because you think my games are mind numbing and a waste of time.” I didn’t actually have to have heard what she said. She has said it before, many times over. I don’t mean to zone out, or even make her repeat herself. I do want to make her happy. I hate that I do this to us, that we constantly fight over my games. She just doesn’t get it. She doesn’t get that this is part of me, and it always has been. If I let go of this, I have to face the world. The very world I have worked so desperately to bury. She doesn’t get that I have built a world full of friends that I would have to grieve as if they died if I were to give up on the games. She doesn’t get it and I can’t explain it. It sounds like a second world, one apart from her. In a way it is, but it’s not her I’m trying to escape. The experiences that took my origin story and created a villain. It’s the villain within me. The video games are what keep this Hulk under control. 


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