Video games played a major role in my identity. Many of my friendships growing up featured games in some way. I remember playing video games with my friends at sleepovers and birthday parties. I remember the excitement of playing a new game with a friend and exploring a new world together. I remember playing way past our bedtimes, ultimately turning off the console in exhaustion.
I also remember bringing my games with me to friends’ houses. I remember packing up my PlayStation 2 with a stock of games, trying to decide which ones my friends will want to play. Looking back now, it feels like I was showing off what I had, but that was never my intent. I just wanted to share the fun with others.
But as much as video games played a role in helping me build friendships, they also sucked me into isolation. As we grew older and my friends moved away from games, I gravitated toward the games and forgot my friends. I spent more time playing by myself and less time with others. During those very lonely years, games were my crutch and my poison. They brought me comfort in my loneliness, but that comfort shielded me from the real problems.
I have heard it said that the coping mechanisms we have as children become our dysfunctions as adults. Video games embodied this truth. Games helped me cope with life, but as I got older, they served as an unhealthy escape. It took me a while to decide that I don’t want this for my life. Maybe others can enjoy games without problems, but not me.
In the end, games weren’t the problem. Even without the video games, I am still me, with my desires for escape, comfort, and control. I am thankful for the season that video games played in my life, but recognize that season is done. Let me face the new.