This post is part of Project: Inception, written ~8 years ago. It has been untouched from its original, pseudonymous, form. It is also part of the larger “farewell” tour and countdown as I turn-off this blog and head to the metaverse where I will live out the rest of my wonderful days. I hope to see you there!
What can I really say about the importance of video games in my life? Some of the best times of my life were spent in front of a TV with sweaty (if not bruised and bloody) hands for agonizingly-long periods of time. There have been many games where I have spent literally thousands of hours on them. In fact, there is one game that if you were to add up all the time played that it would equal more than a calendar year of investment. Un-freakin-believable.
But these games were more than just pure entertainment – they were vehicles of education and helped me learn anything from macro and micro commerce, the movements and opportunities via political power, tactical team-based strategy, and they even taught me to be more social and more engaging via sub-cultures and contextual economies.
I learned how to build cities and entire nations through espionage and deceit as well as moral upright diplomacy and commercial trade. I learned how to organize teams and to “rally the troops” when things fell out of favor on the battlefield, and most importantly I learned the art and science of reciprocity, something that is very difficult for me to grasp in the world away from the keyboard.
Video games such as Sim City (and then Sim City 2000), Sid Meier’s Civilization, any of the original Nintendo and Sega Genesis games, Myst, all of the King’s Quest series, Final Fantasy 7, Rainbow 6, Doom, Unreal Tournament, Starcraft, Diablo, Warcraft, and then World of Warcraft all taught me valuable life lessons which helped me assimilate better into the real world. It would take pages for me to describe in great detail what those life lessons were but I can assure you that I’m a much more effective and reasonable adult because of them.
Sure, they caused much concern for my parents when I wouldn’t sleep for days on end because I wanted to play them until I beat them and would often be late for school because of a certain level (or two). I was happy when I got to college where I could spend hours by myself with no distraction (accept to eat ramen noodles) and play to my heart’s content. Why? Because these video games worlds understood me and I could understand them. They were based on logic and were not boundary-less like humans. They were plausible and perceivable. There was very little guessing. I was in control and was happy when I could fake myself to think that I wasn’t (so that the games would be exciting).
Not much ambiguity there and as a result I could master them. I became a “Class Leader” in the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) World of Warcraft and helped lead my guild on many quests to defeat amazing monsters and dungeons. These epic quests could last up to 10 hours at a time and I loved being an expert in my specific role and responsibility. No one online worried that I couldn’t look them in the eyes or that I stuttered or made weird noises (I was a gnome or undead so it was kind of expected). They just cared that I was creating the expected value that they believed I could contribute and I loved it proving them right and exceeding their expectations with my fluency, leadership, resourcefulness, and strategy. What was the % chance of survival on this next encounter given the makeup of our 40-man raid team consisting of a lop-sided group of melee-DPS classes and not enough “Healadins”? 38.6% if we don’t fuck it up! They loved it.
All the while I could hide behind a beautiful avatar that hid my relational deficiencies and masked my imperfections. No wonder it was incredibly addictive in more ways than one! It became a serious issue the moment I got married as my new spouse had no idea how much time I was really spending on these games. We talked of divorce that first year and it was one of the most difficult years of my life. I thank God we made it out alive. I was diagnosed as being clinically addicted to video games – unfortunately that wasn’t really true as I was just autistic but that diagnosis would take nearly a decade longer to surface.
The one key and important takeaway from all of this is quite simple: I thrive in scenarios and environments that are very much like a game or that have video game-like elements. Include a great story and narrative, help me discover my own identity, and send me on an epic quest to defeat the “bad guys” and I’ll love it every step of the way. Make it boring and I will wilt and die. I think most creative people and aspie creatives specifically need this type of stimuli to awaken our dry and parched souls so that we can do our best work. If it’s like a video game we’ll plug right in and start hitting those keys to make it happen, you’ll see.