“It helped me belong and, from there, find myself.”

I had a non-gamer colleague once tell me he believed only people without personalities play video games. He said they don’t know who they are, so they pretend to be other people. Their identities wink out the moment they turn off the game. While I do think games provide a tremendous opportunity to role-play, almost all the gamers I know have remarkably strong personal identities. If anything, games enrich these identities with experiences and opportunities that both mirror and surpass those offered by everyday life. Today’s storyteller shares how one game offered him not only an escape from a tough childhood, but the opportunity to find friendship and himself. – Marie


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Growing up, video games had always been around and an integral part of my identity. A lot of my hobbies spawned from gaming. Through games I came to writing, anime, skateboarding, programming. Games even shaped my interest in music.

The reason why games were so prevalent in my life? It was an escape from a rough childhood. I was the youngest of three growing up in a household with an alcoholic parent. My siblings were old enough to always go out with friends when there was trouble at home, but I was six years behind them. So, I had to endure my father’s unpredictable temper and mood swings. Then, when I was 13, my mother finally left him, and I was stuck in the middle of the divorce. My parents went back and forth vying for custody, with me overhearing and knowing it was because whoever had me collected child support from the other. Growing up in that environment combined with feeling like the only worth I had to my parents was a child support payment, I had no self-esteem to speak of and just wanted not to exist. I also still had to deal with the consequences of my father’s alcoholism. He couldn’t keep a job; we moved a lot. At 15, I dropped out of high school when he moved us away from my friends. He didn’t even care, he was so wrapped up in the bottle.

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