A decade ago I was 24 years old. Things were very different in my life. At the time I was dating my college girlfriend who I thought was the person I’d spend my life with. I was escaping an awful roommate situation, moving to my future ex-inlaws’ house for a temporary stay. I was also working in retail. The business-to-consumer stint helped me limp through the recession, still mostly green behind the ears with professional work experience. As I moved through the decade, life events started to move in fast-forward. It’s almost a cliche, but things really do feel like you blink and you’re on the verge of a new year, about to turn 34 and question where the hell the other 33 years of your life went. Video games, however, were a constant along the way.
Hindsight and 2020
Looking back on the years, the one thing (probably the only thing) that has stayed constant in my life is video games. Before one of my best friends passed away from brain cancer, we reminisced about the times we would “drink and link,” playing Halo for ungodly amounts of hours. Funnily enough, this is where my unsightly gamertag was spawned. (It’s massivestds in case you were wondering.)
As I was being suffocated by anxiety, clinical depression, and the clenched grip I had on my previous marriage, I once again turned to video games to spark something inside me that resembled my former self. Surprisingly, I found that spark sitting in a barren, single bedroom apartment, sparse with furniture and no internet. It was just me, my thoughts, feelings (mostly crying), and my PlayStation 3 with Resident Evil 6.
Wii U & friends
One of my mentors at this time was a former colleague from work, Drew. He became a close friend and guide, ultimately helping me mature personally and professionally along the way. He was the cornerstone in our group of friends, celebrating weddings, birthdays, and always finding a reason to get together for no good reason whatsoever.
Drew surprised me most when he purchased a Wii U. This led to bonding sessions, consisting of him dishing out life knowledge and combos strikes.
I lost my friend Drew about two years ago to throat cancer.
A decade under the influence
Throughout this entire time, video games has not been just a thing I do because I like nerdy stuff. It isn’t because gaming is popular or due to the rise of esports. Rather, it’s something that I’m genuinely passionate about and has enabled me to bond, share stories, and relate to others in life.
The portrait I’ve painted might look like a depressing look back, but it’s so much more. I have memories attached to the games that I play, cementing that nostalgia every time I boot up something old. It also reminds me that I’m lucky enough to be around to experience the ever-evolving gaming industry.
The last decade happened swiftly, impacted me deeply, and most definitely changed my outlook on life. There’s been loss, setbacks, and inevitable growth. However, the one thing it hasn’t necessarily changed is my appreciation for video games as my preferred storytelling experience.
Video games are a lot like my life. They are shaped and changed through experiences and interpreted differently for everyone involved. They are not perfect, nor am I as a human. But through memories and emotions evoked and often solicited, I’m hoping the next decade is as brilliantly filled with loss, growth, and ultimately, another decade to reflect on.
Cheers to the next 10 levels of your life, friends.