Mondays are usually slow for news as people start to stir for the coming week. Therefore, every Monday, we will address one topic to start the week and get discussion flowing. It stimulates the week like a cup of coffee, hence the title.
Video games aren’t just for entertainment. At their best, they can help people look inside and grow as people. In other instances, they can help people cope with other problems, such as how RPGFan’s Kim Wallace uses them to help her deal with the constant pain that stems from fibromyalgia. What some decry as glorification of violence often has healing powers all to its own.
This week’s question, courtesy of Crystal Steltenpohl:
What video game has helped you grow as a person the most?
Crystal Steltenpohl: After thinking about this for a while, I’d have to say that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask helped me as a person the most. Not because of anything the game did, but because of the experience associated with the game.
When I was a kid, I was only allowed to have handhelds because my dad held an enlisted rank in the military, so console systems were often out of our economic reach, especially considering how often we moved and how often stuff would end up missing or broken by movers. Simply put, despite how my dad also liked video games, it wasn’t high on his list of priorities, so I’d get the latest Game Boy system and that was usually it. Oftentimes, though, my friends would have a console or two and we’d play together that way, though other times I wound up watching them play single-player games and only got the controller whenever there was a part they couldn’t do. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was the same way, but it stuck out to me as being the first truly co-op experience I’ve had.
I used to go over to my friend Andrew’s house all the time in middle school. Neither of us had very many friends, but we kind of just preferred to hang out with each other anyway. He lived up the street from me and was deathly afraid of my dad (if he knew my dad was home he just wouldn’t come over), so we’d usually chill at his place and play the N64 or the PS/PS2. Sometimes, we’d play Spyro or similar games; but we also spent a lot of time playing Final Fantasy IX, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, andThe Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. I was more of an accessory for FFIX and OoT in that he’d often play when I wasn’t there as well and then give me a recap when we met up again. After that, we’d work through the rest of the story together with him handing me the controller when there was a part he couldn’t do, usually a puzzle.
I remember The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask being a game that we played together, and only together (meaning he wouldn’t play unless I was there). Because of that, I felt like this was my first time actually cooperating with someone to complete the game. We’d hand the controller off to one another, allowing the other person to try different aspects of the game. I even got to go against a few bosses, which normally only happened when someone tried so many times s/he was about to give up with the game entirely. Majora’s Mask wasn’t an easy game in its day, and when we finally beat it, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie that comes only from defeating a game together, and it solidified my preference for co-op strategies over competition that lasts even now. I prefer to beat a game with someone to beating someone else at a game, and that attitude has spread to other parts of my life as well. If there’s a way all of us can get somewhere together, there’s no reason for us to fight over who gets there first or at all.
Not to say I don’t mind a little competition now and then. It still feels great to beat the crap out of someone in a game so long as both parties aren’t spoilsports and get offended over it.
Mohamed Al Saadoon: I racked my brain, but I really can’t think of a game that has done that for me.
Gaming for me is simply a hobby. A hobby I obsess over a little too much, that’s for sure, but a hobby nonetheless. I actually feel I spend too much time playing video games than doing some more soul-enriching stuff like hanging out with friends and not being a social hermit. I’d rather spend days in imaginary worlds with Italian plumbers, foxes who fly space craft, and pink marshmallow things that eat you.
So in essence… video gaming hasn’t caused me to grow but rather to regress into a fat manchild.
Nathan Wood: At first, I interpreted the topic as more related to what video game helped me the most whilst I was in a dark place. Although there are two titles that leap immediately to my mind when I think of that, I probably couldn’t pick one title that has helped me grow as a person the most. I’ll be the first to say that I’m a very susceptible person in that whatever I see in any format, whether that be in film, music, games, or even real life itself, I try to take something from it. So in a way, most if not all games I’ve played to this day have had some level of influence over me, although in general, it’s a rather small and insignificant change.
Elaborating on this, I was a fairly quiet individual a few years ago. I had a close group of friends that I talked with a lot, but outside of that group I had, I was very quiet. Fast forward to today where, if you ask anyone who’s known me for any significant amount of time, they’ll be the first to state I’m fairly outgoing and have the tendency to not shut up. This change in me was influenced by a number of things, one of those being video games. Specifically, as a younger child, I essentially looked up to many lead characters in my favorite titles who had qualities I admired and wanted personally. Nathan Drake and his quick wit, Commander Shepard and his ability to lead and inspire those around him, Alan Wake’s determinism, and Solid Snake’s voice. That last one may or may not have been real, but you get the picture.
Of course, as I grew older, this feeling disappeared almost entirely, and now very few games can hit a chord within me that wants to make me change or can influence me in any significant capacity. However, one thing I can’t deny is that video games, as well as films, books, and your typical sport stars, helped me grow as a younger child trying to find his niche.
Christopher Bowen: Well, I think the obvious answer for me is Fire Emblem. As noted in my biography, I ran the Fire Emblem Sanctuary of Strategy for a grand total of four years, and during the time I was a member there, I met most of my best friends. I wouldn’t give those people up for anyone in the world. But to be frank, it’s not the game itself that enriched my life; it’s the community around the game. That said, I haven’t played the games as much lately as I have in the past, especially since I’ve left the community.
Video games do help to enrich me over all through issues I’ve had throughout my adult life, particularly “slower” role-playing games and the like. Since 2004, I’ve had recurring headaches and other post-concussion issues relating to years of head injuries which finally came to a head after a big one I got that year. Since then, I’ve basically been Glass Joe: I have ten recorded concussions on record since my teens. The issues I have during the times I get hit are the least of my problems. Depression usually sets in after the fact, sometimes for extended periods of time, because I can’t do much else. RPGs, strategy games, and the like fill in the gaps for me and help me get past the worst times. Trust me when I say this: cranial trauma is no freaking joke, and there are times when anything lit up is too much for me. But those slower moving games do two things for me: engage my mind as a sort of rehabilitative exercise, and keep combining influences of pain and boredom from conspiring to tag-team me into submission.
So, while one game hasn’t stood out as something that has “enriched” it beyond the people I’ve met, the whole medium is far more valuable than people like Roger Ebert would have us believe.