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The Freedom & Possibility in Video Games

I don’t remember the first time I ever played a video game. What I do know is my brother, being only a year older than me, had a player 2 once I was old enough to hold a controller.

I loved gaming from the very start, the vibrant graphics, the fact that I could control what was happening, I could learn and I could improve. I think I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to be in a world where the rules make sense. I think people typically see video games as an escape, but don’t understand that they can also be a haven. A place to belong.

As time went on however, with my Mum’s insistence that video games had to be educational, and just generally growing up and getting absorbed in the world, video games fell to the wayside for me. We always continued to have the family console and games to share with my brother, but I was a child and didn’t really see video games as anything more than fun!

When I was 20, my life ended before it really began. I got a throat infection and never recovered… ME/CFS is a disease I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s almost as if I’m a phone with a faulty battery. No matter how much sleep I get, no matter the quality of the sleep, I wake up exhausted each and every day. I’m weak, all my muscles hurt, my eyes are sensitive to light, my ears sensitive to sound. Brain fog is another symptom that catches you out, because you know you’re smart, you know you’re capable but you’re stumbling around in a fog that prevents you from finding words you know, you jumble your words, forget what you said the moment the words leave your mouth. Frustrating is probably a very light word for how it feels.

I didn’t truly, fully appreciate what video games can do to support mental health until then. You see, the problem with being too exhausted to leave your house (or even your bed) is that you develop a bit of cabin fever. The same four walls, the same YouTube videos, the same TV shows. It all gets so suffocatingly dull. But what I didn’t expect to get me out of the worst mental health slump I’d ever been in, was Skyrim.

official artwork from Skyrim Press Kit - a knight looks over at a castle settlement on a rocky landscape, with pale pink clouds and a river running beneath it.

Hey you, you’re finally awake.

Five words that now haunt the minds of every gamer. But the five words that welcomed me to a new world, new experiences and the freedom to play in any way I want. Even though all I could do was lie in bed, I could prop myself up with pillows and be a part of something.

Because gaming demands so much mental focus, I didn’t have enough spare to think about what I was going through. Even though the pain and fatigue were still there, I didn’t think as much about them. I laughed. Thank you to Bethesda for how buggy a mess your games can be because oh boy did they make me laugh.

I digress. What I’m trying to say is, when the whole world became inaccessible, video games gave me possibilities. Have you ever grown a radish that then competes in dance battles? I have.

I also think without finding video games again, I would not be where I am now in life. I’m a Twitch Ambassador, I’ve raised over $25,000 for charity, I’ve made friends with amazing people around the world and I have an incredible community full of kind people. It’s a much better life than I ever envisioned myself having after getting sick. I’m even taking an arrow to the knee soon! Video games helped me when I was mentally at my lowest to regain a little control over my life. I’m very grateful for that.

Written by Radderss