On gaming

My name is Nathan, I am a gaming addict. Whew! I thought that would be easier to admit.

Several times in my life, more as I grow older, people look at me funny or ask why, at my age, do I still play video games. The truths are both simple and complex.

Gaming for me started not as a video experience, but as an avid role player. I got my first fix with the good old “Dungeons and Dragons” when I was around ten. I was fueled to try it by the popular cartoon of the same name, which I soon found out bears zero resemblance to actually playing the game. I had played my uncle Mike’s Atari 2600, and was an accomplished Time Pilot and Tron player at the arcade, but this was different. I was part of a story. I helped shape and form what was happening. It was like a giant “choose your own adventure” book that I got to play with my friends. I quickly graduated to D.C. Heroes, and Marvel in middle school spurned on by my love for comics. Then I got my first Nintendo.

Nintendo games were okay. My favorites were “Nobonaga’s Ambition” and “Ghengis Khan”, both of which were historically based, turn based strategy games. Think “Risk” the board game infused with a little history. But something was missing: my input into the game world. Sega Genesis was next, with my only love being “Joe Montana Sports Talk Football” and “Sonic”.

I was soon in the military with little time for gaming, save for the occasional game of “Mortal Kombat” in the barracks. And by now role-playing seemed “unmanly” to my military friends, believe me because I tried. We did have weekly sessions of “Axis and Allies” to unwind, but after a few weeks, you knew what any given person’s strategy was since the options were limited.

It wasn’t until Playstation’s “Final Fantasy 7” that my addiction took a horrible turn. The game was so immersive, with thousands of things to do, and I did them all. I am positive that I spent hundreds of hours just breeding Chocobos. Xbox hooked me with Bioware’s “Knights of the Old Republic”. I am an avid, er, obsessive, Star Wars fanatic, so that was an easy sell. The “Mass Effect” series, “XCOM”, “Diablo”, and the grand daddy of all life sucking games, “Skyrim”, have all been serious time destroyers of mine.

So “why” continue when I know I have a problem?

A)They are fun. Losing yourself in a world that your decisions help create is mentally rewarding and amusing.

B)The ability to be that thing or person that you wish you could be is empowering. For someone who feels that they haven’t really accomplished what they thought they would, or could, the ability to at least be able to conquer a fantasy world has some empowering feelings to it.

I will never have superpowers or save the world. I will never save the galaxy from powerful A.I. beings. But if I can gain the courage to try more believable and feasible dreams through conquering fantasy, is it really that bad?


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