Today I read this post by Zoe Quinn and I don’t think anything I’ve read before has resonated so much with me as this. As a kid, I didn’t fit in anywhere, but I didn’t have video games to fall into either. Books were my escape. I can remember my mother letting me read one of her crime novels at the age of 10. I’d read anything and everything. Themes explored in crime novels didn’t faze me at all. That probably added to the whole “not fitting in” thing as well.
That’s not to say I never experienced games as a child. I can remember my dad passing his GameBoy to me so I could play Tetris obsessively. I think that’s the only game I ever played on it. I can remember my dad setting up a PlayStation during Christmas dinner one year. I spent the rest of the day playing Crash Bandicoot, soon to be followed by Spyro The Dragon. Fast forward a year, and my mum and I were in a shop, I think it was Currys, I was stood in front of the video game display and I wanted a new game. I picked out a bright and colourful-looking one. I asked my mum if she could buy me the game. Her response was “Only if you can pronounce it properly.” The game in question was Pandemonium. At the time, I had a really severe speech impediment, (heck I still do). An hour later, I managed to say the title properly and at the speed that a person without an impediment would. I left the shop as the proud owner of Pandemonium. (To this day, I think that’s the only time I’ve ever pronounced it correctly.)
As strange as it is to say, at that time, my interest in games died when my dad died. The last Christmas he was alive, I had a PlayStation 2. But I honestly couldn’t tell you what, if any games, I had for it. In a way, it’s almost a blessing he never got to see how bad the Spyro series got.
This interest in games stayed dead, or dormant, if you will, until 2010. Between 2002 and then, I tried many different interests, playing in brass bands, extra-curricular activities, Girls Brigade, all kinds of sports. I never belonged anywhere. I never felt at home.
Four years ago. Thanks to my best friend, his Xbox 360 and Assassin’s Creed, I found a deep passion for games. Since that (fateful?) day, games have permanently been on my mind. Not just games, but the games communities. I can pretty much guarantee that at least 95% of you reading this have met me (whether it be IRL or purely web-based) through games in some capacity. And with each new person I meet because of games, the more thankful I am for communities such as this. For more interactions I have with people in this community, the more at home I feel, comfortable, warm and safe. Zoe made the point far better than I ever could – but I just want to hug each and every one of you and say “thank you”.