Running away is a term I’ve used before; it has many terms, like “getting away,” “avoiding conflict,” but the one I use the most is “running away.” Running away is when you are trapped in a situation that you just can’t avoid discussing, and choose to ignore it until you can figure out what you want to say. To me, running away from my problems was relatively easy; I did it with video games all the time. It didn’t matter at all what I was trying to avoid, but I just turned on my nearest game and tried to think things through before I could say them.
However, that’s not the reason I chose video games, or even why video games are important to me. To me, running away from my problems is rather trivial nowadays, and instead I go into video games because…the world just sucks.
Yeah, it is a bit weird to see such words written in a manner like this, and it’s even more strange that I still consider such thoughts as justifiable. It’s true, though, and whether or not I know this is why I prefer the virtual life. Earth is so bland most days; you turn on the news and something good has happened, or something tragic has happened. You just roll with the punches and in some instances, you go into a state of disbelief.
The first time I remember ever turning to video games to avoid life, I was probably 12 years old. At this point, I was being bullied rather heavily, as readers of the prior editorial may know already. Most of my friends were going to high school, and whatever friends I had left were bullies towards the end of the year to me. So every day, I’d return from school and ignore my homework, then I would just play whatever games I had available.
I found myself wandering aimlessly in some games without much purpose, just enjoying the scenery or messing around in whatever level I was in. I wasn’t really progressing, but I didn’t care much; I just wanted time to myself. This stuck with me for years, as I would continually neglect my homework in order to escape into the video game world. Every day in high school was terrible, even if I could tell that the teachers were trying their hardest to help. I just couldn’t find my place.
It wasn’t until Sophomore year in high school that things started looking up. I found a couple of friends that I enjoyed talking with, but the issue came from the year before, where a couple of them treated me like garbage. However, I played games with some of them, and that was better than nothing, I suppose. School still sucked, though; and Sophomore year was no better due to personal reasons.
I finally found out something I could enjoy, though; and it was something I could tie to my gaming life. I turned to Let’s Play. I started in about 2010 with some terrible equipment and figured that I could distract myself with not only playing games, but also talking about them and spending time watching myself play games. It was a very weird time, where I often spent 10 hours on a bunch of videos and rendered them all, then I would upload them all again on the channel.
However, it was just another distraction from real life. I found myself neglecting school even worse and not really caring. I was going nowhere fast, and I just had to think. On top of this burden, I had a falling out with a large group of friends, both online and at school, and that impacted my schoolwork even worse. By the time I figured out how to make everything better, I was essentially failing half of my classes.
This is when tough love intervened. My parents, smart as they are, took away every game console and electronic they could get their hands on. (They did this every couple of years or so, coincidentally.) They hid them; poorly, I might add, but I wound up spending just a little more time working on schoolwork. Sadly, I still half-assed it; as I should have, since I didn’t pay attention in school or take good notes so I didn’t have any learning material to use. Whenever I could get my consoles back, I went straight to recording more episodes of my first Let’s Play.
I eventually got it finished in late 2010, and I started working on the next one. At this time, I had entered to join a community event on YouTube to get LPers to show off their new series. This is where I would eventually meet several of my friends. Most of them I still talk to to this day.
Do you believe in fate? If you asked me four or five years ago, I would have said no, but now I would have to agree wholeheartedly. Fate is what brought me here to write on BlazeKick and to focus primarily in journalism and video editing, and I couldn’t be happier.
That said, not a lot about me has changed in those years. I found myself depending on games to give me an escape from reality; and this was compounded by the fact that I have all these wonderful friends online to talk to and play games with; and they like me. This is great! So I wound up mixing my social life into my internet life; my gaming life, more applicably.
The issue still stands to this day; I’ve become an introvert. I feel uncomfortable talking with strangers in public or even talking in general with anyone in public. I don’t like meeting people I knew in high school because I just feel weird; I’m always looking down and making as little talk as possible. One day, I walked into a Dari Mart (like a 7-Eleven, if you have one of those nearby), and there were two of my old high school friends there talking. Immediately I froze and my first reaction was to leave, but they saw me immediately.
No way out, I suppose. I went and got my snacks, bought what I wanted and left. Along the way, I tried to keep conversation, but sadly all I got in exchange were weird looks and continual topic changes. I left about as humiliated as I could expect from completely blowing it. When I returned home, I immediately returned to my PC and talked with a few friends on Skype; I was a completely different person.
The reason of this being that I met these friends through video games; I bonded with them through video games, and those people at the market that I thought were friends…they were complete strangers to me now. I didn’t know them any more, and they didn’t know me. I haven’t talked with them since that day, and I think I’d like to keep it that way.
So, why do I call it “running away?” Well, the truth is that I never thought of it that way until recently. Whenever I played a game, I could always depend on someone to be there and enjoy the game with me. Video games became a part of my own special universe that I could share with friends and family alike. It was a way for me to communicate with people because I felt like I could explain so much about them. I could spend hours discussing video games and their various design choices, then I could bring that intensity down with family and just recommend games to them in a normal way. It wasn’t a release to me; it wasn’t running away.
It was a podium which I could speak from, and that people would want to pay attention to. It became a part of who I am, and I was willing to share it with so many people over the years. The issue came with depending on it too much, and losing a part of what made me human. I lost the part of me that wanted to be normal in real life, and traded it instead for a virtual life.
I escape to video games because there, I know I have a voice and I can say it freely without worry. However, in real life, I don’t have that voice any more. I wouldn’t say gaming has ruined me; far from it, really. It’s proven that I can cry, and laugh, and smile; that’s worth losing a social life over.
So, the ultimate question stands: “Why do I run away?” And my answer is that I don’t. I just get bored of real life and decide to retreat somewhere else, where my friends are waiting, and every time I escape to this wonderful world it’s always a fresh experience. I get to meet them in different lives and see how they are in different situations; it’s refreshing, to say the least, and video games offer so many more opportunities to see those experiences.