This begins my seventh year as a video games writer on a professional level. The scope of my professionalism has changed throughout the years – I’m no longer a rookie, but not writing for my livelihood like I was a few years ago – but I’m still a writer who has opinions that I often put to website via pixelized text. Sometimes, I’m more charged than others.
The past few weeks have not been one of those times.
I will be the first to admit that the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut that took 20 students and six faculty have seriously screwed me up. It sounds weak to say that – I know people up there, but no one I know was directly affected in terms of being wounded or losing a life – but lately, video games don’t matter as much as they used to. Definitely not enough to go on a website and call Electronic Arts horrible names. Granted, I came on this very site and did just that to a few people, but these were people exploiting 20 dead kids for the sake of political advancement… and this was a day before the head of the NRA directly blamed video games for gun violence. The article’s title itself should be indicative of what my mental state was like at this point: sheer exasperation.
That’s not to say I had nothing to do with video games; in fact, I played them quite a bit. I’ve been all over the PC version of Skyrim, to the point where Aileen continues to call me “addicted”, something that I vociferously deny. I’ve been playing games with my girlfriend, via handhelds – I’ve even started taking my DS around and picking up Miis via Site Pass1. I’ve been playing a lot, I just haven’t felt the desire to write about it, including my end of year awards2.
It’s important to note that, just like other times when I’ve experienced some form of trauma, either to others or to myself, video games have been an important coping mechanism. Much like Kim Wallace, I use video games to address things, and take a load off while challenging my mind. Sometimes it works well, occasionally it doesn’t work as intended – I’m not gonna be picking up NHL ’13 for awhile – but they’ve been important to me for a long time, and that hasn’t changed in adulthood.
As noted before, there is a heavy movement to, if not outright ban violent video games, at least attach a stigma to them, something the town of Southington, Connecticut – thirty miles from Newtown, and about 25 minutes from my house – is looking to do, in an event that looks too much like a book burning for me to take it seriously. What events like this don’t consider is the catharsis that a video game, a movie, or a music CD, violent or not, provides people. For every Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Adam Lanza, who were heavily into video games before doing their shootings, there are millions upon millions of gamers who don’t shoot people after playing their games, and can separate fact from fiction.
Without video games and humour, I would never have coped with the truly traumatic events of my childhood; I would have had no outlet that I can think about now. It’s entirely possible, considering where my life has gone, particularly in my youth, that I’d be dead without both. They’re still there for me, even the exceptionally violent Skyrim, and now that I’ve been able to use video games to get my mind back into a proper frame of mind, I can go back to writing about them, something I get paid to do, recharged and ready to go.
1 – This is a strange process. For those with a 3DS who haven’t used this much, you take every Mii you meet into your DS, and they give you puzzle pieces and help you battle enemies in an underworld lair to save your own hide. Honestly, if you think about it, it’s creepy. As my girlfriend noted recently, “…so you take strangers into your DS where they fight your wars? And they can’t leave?” Nope. They neeeeever leave my DS. Sometimes, late at night, I look upon my digital pets, their forlorn faces staring blankly at me, all hope destroyed, and what is left of my soul sings a morose song of conquest.
2 – Coming soon!