B-A-Stop…

“If death is the Darkness’ way, let our Light defy their desire.” – Orphine SR-4 Item Description: Destiny


 

I have felt judged for my choices in life. I have witnessed those around me who have told me that I shouldn’t have done some such thing, or that I should have thought about my actions before taking them. I have felt ridicule in my youth from the mouths of those who don’t understand why I live my life the way I do. From the way, I wake up in the morning, to my messy apartment, to the big things like choices in jobs and career, my desire to be an author, my desire to live for passion and love rather than the void pursuit of possessions. It circles back around every so often to the way I choose to spend my time. Among all of the things about me that have suffered an unwarranted critique, none of them can quite hold a candle to my chosen hobby of playing video games.

Even when my girlfriend and I began dating, she didn’t understand the desire for such a hobby. My father to this day doesn’t understand what I find so fascinating and enjoyable about gaming and that’s okay. I don’t demand that anyone understand or learn. It is too much to ask.

We are blamed for a lot of things, you know. Gamers being the antithesis of the healthy human community, evidently. We are the root cause of laziness, violence and we have brought to light the rising of Chad with our incel-like patterns. We have, even when we are disconnected from the situation – been blamed for gun violence in the country numerous times.

“It’s all those games that are making kids want to kill each other. I swear it.” – A senator, probably.

I sat down just under a month ago and logged into my PC to play games with my friends, when I heard some troubling news. There was a shooting at a gaming tournament in Florida. Curious, I began watching the news and by the time everything had unfolded, two guys had been killed. I won’t waste time mentioning the shooter, but from what it sounded like, he had chosen to open fire on his competitors for losing a match.

It was only ten minutes before I started seeing the uproar on social media I have become accustomed to. Painfully accustomed to. In which each side barters for their time in the spotlight. Pro-gun friends decried the event, saying that if one of those kids had a gun it could have been stopped. Anti-gun friends went on about the removal of deadly weapons from our day to day shelves.

At this point, I begin to wonder if we will ever see something unfold from this, or if we are just meant to bicker back and forth about the nature of our weapons. Forever living in this half limbo of gun diplomacy and I forced myself out of the state of mind this kind of news puts me into, and I made myself stop.

I had to make myself think about the victims.

I had to pause, to hold myself back from the argument and consider the loss that two families and a number of friends + teammates just suffered.

After that, I was just sad.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing a lot of games with my friends. It’s a manner of stress relief for me. I can get online with people I love dearly and live out fantasy adventures, guide my ship through interstellar space and overpower aliens. I can go fishing with my guild off the banks of Stormsong and laugh over the day. I can sit with my fireteam on the beaches of Io and enjoy the sunset.

I can do all these things because there are men and women out there who work tirelessly to develop games for the sake of an escape.

I don’t talk about it a lot, but WoW was always a place for me to hide. When the world was big and scary, and I didn’t know what to do next, where to go… When I was lost for a path, I used WoW as a way to stabilize. I could manage everything within that small world and I used that stabilization to root my own life into. It was the island of repose I needed from my then hectic and confusing life.

It was therapy, it wasn’t propaganda.

So, when this happened, I knew what would come shortly after. Despite all the scientific proof and psychological evidence that directly speaks against the thought, I knew that someone would say that video games caused this. That Call of Duty and Doom are the reason that all these people are killing everyone else and I just wonder…

What was Stalin’s highest killstreak?

Did Mussolini complete the Mythic+ dungeons weekly? If so, I wonder what his gear score is.

Jack the Ripper, I’m sure, was a foe worthy of challenge amid the Trials of the Nine.

Did Hitler enjoy the scene meeting the Gravemind as much as I did?

What I’m saying is… Evil people have existed for centuries. They will exist for centuries more, and there is no stopping the rise of evil in people. Not by blaming it on everything else. The kids I grew up with that had troubled home lives and sought to take it out on their classmates did so because it was the only way they could find power. It was the only manner of control they had, throwing full soda cans at me because I was fat. Harassing the special needs kids because they were different and easy to target. Planning a kill list in the shadows of the pep rallies. These kids didn’t all grow up to be evil. Somewhere along the line, someone reached out to them, they sought to face that evil head-on.

Even if they didn’t know what it was.

I’ve seen these kids in these dark places that every tabloid seems to talk about, get saved. I’ve seen them change and grow and there are many of them who have become bright young men and women. People who are having children and families and their futures are so bright.

It isn’t games. It isn’t.

One kid, the worst I’d ever personally seen, was arrested for suggesting that he was going to bomb the high school. I had talked to him a lot before then, and he always made fun of me for playing games. He told me that video games were a surefire path to failure. That I would grow up and be nothing. That by 25 I would be jobless, living with my parents and I would have no future.

Look at me now.

I have the brightest future today that I have ever had, and it isn’t all because of video games. Hardly any of it is, I’d wager. It’s because I had people all through my life who supported me, who believed in me, who loved me.

I didn’t have to suffer in the way he did. I didn’t feel like my anger was best thrown at the faces of innocent people. I didn’t think that slaughtering my classmates, my friends, my city, was an option I would ever take. I never reached that dark place.

…Not like he did.

Sometimes I wonder if I had reached out. If I had befriended him, had tried just a bit harder to show him the same kind of earnest love I have been shown my whole life if he would have been able to claw his way out of whatever pit he had found himself in…

It’s never been about video games.

It’s always been about finding a security.

Video games just happen to be mine, and I will always be thankful for my guild. My fireteam. My squad. My dungeon team. They could have saved me. They could have stopped me from turning down a path I’d never have recovered from, and I’ll never know if they did… because they loved me enough to make sure I would never even see that as an option.

There’s this old game, Contra, it was incredibly difficult for me when I was young. I’d only played it a handful of times. When I was in my teens, I heard about this cheat code that you could activate that made the game way easier. A bit of a helping hand from Konami, as they’d put it in a lot of their titles. It prevented you from dying, gave you unlimited ammo, it was a magic fix all button for every problem in the game. Turns out, what I never knew then is that it only gives you 30 lives. Still, it has cemented as the most memorable cheat code in gaming.

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.

As it turns out, there is no sequence of buttons you can press that will give us extra lives. If you could, I think we would have discovered it long ago. I think a lot of lives would have been saved because of it.

But this isn’t a video game.

This isn’t a test.

This is real life. The choices we make, each of us, matter significantly.

So it doesn’t matter the method. It doesn’t matter the technique you use.

Just make sure that you live the best way you can. That there are people in this world that are hurting terribly. That there is an answer, even if we haven’t found it yet.

“What is better, to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort? – Paarthurnax: The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim


 

This was dear to me. Gaming is a huge aspect of my life and seeing what happened at that place that is supposed to be safe, broke my heart.

I hope that we can find a measurable answer for all of these awful questions we must ask ourselves. We see it so much it can be desensitized, but I hope that somewhere, you still feel something. You still feel that hurt and pain, because you can use it. You can take those things and form a new way to approach this darkness. It doesn’t have to be dark forever.

Fight for what is right. Do it with grace and kindness, always. Do not let the evils of the world dull your goodness.

Your Light must be sharp.


 

Thank you for spending time with me this week, I truly appreciate any moment that I get with you. September is nearing its end and I’m so excited to bring in the final month of Building Pyramids with you. I’ve spoken a lot about future plans and all of the things I want to do, but those things don’t matter much to me right now. I have lots of plans, and you will see them if you see them. What is important to me today is that you stay alive, that you stay here, and hopefully… you make something beautiful out of your life with the hand you’ve been dealt.

If you want to keep up with me, you can find me on Instagram + Twitter:

@alvatobiasbooks.

I’ll see you next week, friends. I’m glad I got to spend some time with you.

-AT

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