There’s a lot that games have to offer to players. There’s education, hand – eye coordination, and serving as a time killer. One thing that really hits close to home is self-confidence. Games helped me because they were something that I felt I had control over, or that I could rise above the problem. When you’re the most unpopular kid at school, and you’ve got an abundance of games in your house, it just becomes part of your everyday life: go to school, go home, play games, do homework, play more games. Other kids were thinking about going to the movies with their friends, I thought about how to build the best zoo in Zoo Tycoon.
Even from a young age I looked took to video games quickly. I wanted to be a magic genie like Barbie or a Pokemon Master like Ash Ketchum. I even had a Pokemon pokeball game where I caught Pokemon and would play with it in my backyard pretending to catch pokemon (I don’t recommend throwing it). I learned to be brave against the bad guys, strong enough to keep my head up, and problem solve my way through obstacles. Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis always gave me an ego boost when I would button mash my way to victory.
As I got older I got into even more games. I would play a lot of strategy games, simulators, and RPGs. Reaching my goal in Roller Coaster Tycoon always made me feel good, especially knowing that little AI people enjoyed my theme park, or in The Sims 2 I was able to be a god and control people’s lives. Looking back, I drowned a lot of people in both games – but hey, when you’re god, anything goes. I was powerful, and while I was in front of that computer screen, I felt good about myself being able to dictate everything that happened, compared to real life, where I had no say in anything.
It wasn’t until I started playing Final Fantasy X that I really started using my game experience in my life away from the screen. From learning how to properly manage my gridsphere and finally beating Sin, it taught me that if I try hard and really work at things, I could accomplish anything. It also taught me to take more interest in how politics and religion work, and just how important teamwork and friendship are. I really started applying these as I entered high school, and found it helped me in being more social, getting better grades, and actually learning something in school.
The more I played, the more I learned to stick up for myself, how to navigate, and develop my own opinions and views on the world. Bioshock, combined with the book 1984, taught me to question everything, especially those in power, which lead me to reading up more on what was happening in the world, and be able to apply it in my everyday life. I became more aware of my world, and that felt good, especially since some people in my classes didn’t know Stephen Harper’s party.
Even playing crossword games on my iPod touch was giving me a boost, knowing and learning how to spell words and their meanings.
Self -confidence isn’t brought on overnight by playing an hour of a game. It was a combination of things. But with the majority of that being my ability to kick butt in video games and gain achievements under my belt, I became the best princess saving, keyblade wielding, virtual drummer, and over all person I could be. Now as I sit on the bus ruling my empire as Cleopatra going to war against Genghis Khan on my phone, I have confidence in myself as a person, and that I can take over his city of London.