Jess talks about what video games took away from her life, and how they ultimately saved her.
Blood covered body parts lined the floor with a larger than necessary ‘victory’ prompt sprawled across the centre screen. I was alone in watching the feat of violence, and I jolted back in horror as the victory scene played out. If you’d like any graphic detail feel free to indulge in a myriad of titles from the video game genre, encompassing everything from ‘beat up your opponent’ to ‘shoot multiple opponents ferociously’ formats.
My Dorito-crisps-and-sugar-drink lunch awaited as I mulled over the story of Chen rong-Yu who reportedly suffered a heart attack playing a popular Massive Multiplayer Online Game.
It’s 2012. I’m young, impressionable and spending my time flitting between a miserable school and home life. I have regressed into a real life escapist addicted to the falsified worlds that were a button click easier than day-to-day reality. I began to hear about games that allowed you to chat to other gamers while simultaneously playing.
By the time I was in University, my room had regressed to a state where the floor of my dorm may as well have been in a different dimension, and if you held your nose for ten minutes you couldn’t smell mould any more. But I had six other worlds where friends liked me, sometimes I could achieve the feat of being in two places at once by logging into two MMO’s on different screens.
My real life responsibilities had dwindled to nothingness. Then, my favourite MMO announced it was closing it’s doors.
Ten years of my life was about to be swallowed up by server deletion…How is it fair that a company has a right to take away my life and my world?
So I rallied and petitioned, I screamed and begged, I did everything I could to save myself.
I cut video games out of my life. I got very depressed. I got back into video games…
Little did I know that the game being gone would result in my real life being saved.
What should I play now it’s gone? I had unearthed an old MMO I had dabbled in my miserable childhood. This time though I had to face the responsibility of adulthood, armed with a job and bills to pay.
I found my time considerably more restricted than before, meaning levelling up in character had to be done in short bursts rather than a long leisurely haul. I found myself researching the fastest experience gain rates, the best product to manufacture for the most money, the best materials to utilize to perform actions and tasks. Finally I indulged into the video game’s own version of the stock market, and I was making very good in game currency (known as bank) doing it.
Why was I suddenly so successful in a considerably restricted amount of time at a game I sucked hard at in childhood? What were the problems video games were actively causing me? Could I turn the scenarios on their head and suck less?
Correlating the days, months, or years I had lost to the dedication of achievement in a video game led me to wonder if I had placed so much effort into my real life, perhaps I could ‘Level up’ my real life character to be just as big and strong?
I had to begin by assessing the damage video games had caused me to ween myself off of my now dependency on them for my survival.
|Addictive Habits||Positive Habits|
|Little care of personal health and surroundings including eating irresponsibly||Improved goal setting abilities through practising of planning and execution to achieve a desired outcome.|
|Using video games as avoidance to reality||Using Video Games to help understand aspects of reality such as improving decision making|
|Over excessive use||Using video games as a method of relaxation in moderation|
|Isolating yourself from your peers||Learning social interaction to help with real world scenarios such as team working|
I took the time I would traditionally spend researching experience gain and applied it to real world application. I set goal’s to clean my room, which soon turned into job life goals. These took time, but so did the daily game grind, often leading to months sometimes years before achieving that pixelated victory. I could make decisions with sharper insight into having an overall picture of outcome, because I’d pressed the ‘reset’ button enough times commanding my fantasy worlds. My teams of people I would battle monsters with, fought alongside me to conquer real life tasks.
Even better, the real world stock market takes the same time to learn and focus on than the make believe one I was using.
I now use video games as a gentle reminder to focus my mind on linear goal setting when life is a particularly tough nuisance, which gives me the strength to pick myself up and keep trying in reality.
The literal saving of game data was the record of my life for so long, until I discovered how to use video games as a tool to save my real life.
I would not endorse video games as an excuse or prescription any more than I would endorse an overdose of illegal drugs to solves one’s problems. What I will put forward to the table however, is the notion that video games are instead a tool to be utilized to generate a positive outcome when used appropriately.
I’d also urge you not to make the mistake I did. If you can find practical application for your time through the things you do when you are young you’ll find yourself much further ahead at life than I am. If I had learned the stock market merchant trading and then applied this to real world trading with research into the parallels, perhaps I would sit here writing this as a millionaire by now.
Even translating the social interactions and goal setting trends of video games to my real life desires would have helped a lot!
So don’t forget while on call of duty, your real life is calling too!