The Balance Between Games and Life

By:Fabio Santana

Since I was a child, I’ve kept to myself in most aspects. Not socially, but emotionally. I grew up suppressing my feelings and ideas with the intention of not stepping on toes, or hurting peoples expected future for me. Videogames have been, and always will be, my place I can go to forget about all the nagging thoughts that plague me on a constant basis. Though, I’ve had to ask myself in more recent times whether this was a healthy outlet for someone like me.

I love being there for other people, and making sure they can rely on me. Actually, it’s sort of what makes me feel more complete. Yet, divulging the space between the constant doubting in myself, and the pestering thoughts of failure have become crippling as I’ve hit different stages in life. Being married is something that I haven’t quite mastered, and lately I’ve been doing a less than great job at being open about my feelings. I’ve had a lot of doubts about my faith, and I’ve had a lot of doubts about myself. As someone who doesn’t like to talk to others about myself, it’s felt like I’ve been stuck in a room large enough to fit only myself.

Trapped and plagued with my issues, I’ve done nothing but kept them to myself. Lately, I seem to be forming more bonds with videogame characters than I do with actual people. The reason for this is because it’s something that allows to me to turn that small room I’m stuck in, into a vast world of imagination and concentration. As soon as I reach for the power button, it’s like every issue I had suddenly vanished, only to be brought back up as soon as I hit the power button again. I return to a world filled with people I hate, a job that doesn’t pay well in money or accomplishment, a challenging industry that I’m still failing at breaking into, and everything that would encompass all my self-loathing habits.

I recently played through The Last of Us: Left Behind (some spoilers) and saw a beautiful relationship between Ellie and Riley. I saw these two friends that meant everything to each other, and I couldn’t help but envy the openness between them. I haven’t had a close friend in years now, and it kept me thinking after I finished it. Is a good friendship what I need? Is this the meaning of happiness? Sure, I’m lucky enough to have a wife that cares about me, but I’m too scared to frighten her with what’s bottled up inside me. I saw Ellie and Riley laughing, joking, being serious, and loving each other in the grimmest of all circumstances. Yet, when they were together, none of that mattered. I doubt Ellie ever had a relationship with anyone else quite like that. (Spoilers ended)

This isn’t the first time in my life where I completely put myself in a bottle. Around the time that Skyrim came out, I was in a very dark moment in my life. Along with many other people, Skyrim helped me get through my slump. The feeling of being completely on my own in a huge playground filled with wildlife and danger brought a level of satisfaction that I wasn’t getting from any other source. The countless hours spent running through the forest, rethinking strategies, cooking, crafting, and upgrading my character were all things I wasn’t doing in real life. I had more hobbies in a game than I did once I powered down my console.

What is it that’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get past this level? These are questions I can only solve in a game. I can’t figure them out when it comes to me, but I sure can fix my Nord up to be one of the best archers/mages in all of Tamriel.

As people, we all go through hard times in life. We all have our struggles. Some people have mastered them. Others have constant demons plaguing their everyday life. I’m not sure how others do it. Learning to cope with myself is something that seems impossible to me at the moment. For now, learning to deal with them is my greatest quest. I know I won’t shake my issues; they’re always going to be there. Learning to balance my life with my gaming life is something I still need to learn. There has to be some type of scale where I can figure how to overcome my issues, and not let gaming be my only source of light in this dark room I’m stuck in.

For now, I will keep trying to learn things along the way, in hope of allowing myself to be bigger than my thoughts, and bigger than my go to late night gaming sessions.