We Must Stand
In the wake of the horrific mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, ABC has decided to cancel a showing of the Apex Legends tournament. With tensions high in the country, many politicians have pointed their fingers towards video games and our fascination with violent media as a cause for the recent outbreak of violence.
This isn’t the first time video games have been blamed for horrific events and it won’t be the last. I know this news is a bit late and most people know video games aren’t to blame for horrific events. You can find countless examples and studies on how that is just utterly false. Instead, I want to take a moment and share how video games made me a happier person.
Finding My Happiness
In my early twenties, I felt lost and alone. Static in a world that moved past me. I’d just got out of the military and didn’t know where I belonged. I had just spent the last three years hiding the part of me that loved video games and comics because I thought I would be looked down upon, and in some instances when people found out, I was. I stopped playing video games. No longer read comics. Hid any ounce of nerd I had in me because I truly felt no one enjoyed the same stuff I did.
That led to not letting people know the real me. I felt miserable. Those feelings stayed with me even when I went back to civilian life.
Then one day I found the GameOverGreggy podcast, showcasing four friends, gathered around a table, talking about all the nerdy things they loved, and I found my people. Greg, Tim, Nick, and Colin (IGN employees at the time) were the four friends I needed. Every day I’d come home from school and work excited to turn on Youtube and hear a conversation from my best friends. Eventually, they’d go on to move on from IGN, start Kinda Funny, and then Kinda Funny Games.
This led me to picking back up video games they’d talk about on their channel. Read comics Greg would suggest. Look up the crazy Youtube videos Tim and Nick would crack up about. Take an interest in politics from Colin’s conversation with the other guys.
I was happy again.
Finding My Tribe
Most people who know me know I don’t typically enjoy big crowds or meeting new people. It stresses me out and I feel myself retreat back to the days where I wasn’t myself. My brother, who had begun to get back into gaming, found himself within the community too. He told me about a convention coming up in Frisco, Texas where Kinda Funny would be. He had already bought tickets for us to go and I was nervous as hell.
This was my first real convention.
Their panel was amazing. Took a picture with them that I lost. Had them sign an iPad case? Trust me, I don’t know why either. The guys talked about the meet and greet they’d hold for best friends (the moniker of all who enjoy Kinda Funny) after their panels. I wanted to go, but I had never really fully dived into a community. Even after the panels and the picture I was still nervous, but finally worked up the courage and said, “F*** it. Let’s go.”
The meet and greet was outdoors on the patio of a Buffalo Wild Wings. I walked out to the group not knowing what to expect. People stood around chatting having drinks. People introducing themselves to one another. I stood off in the corner still. Not fully allowing myself to open up.
Then the Kinda Funny crew walked out with the biggest smiles and it was contagious. Everyone perked up even more. The conversations got more buoyant, ever so slightly bringing me in closer and closer till I realized I was joining in. It felt like I was catching up with my old high school friends.
We talked about the games we were playing. Exchanging PSN handles. Speculating on the latest Marvel films. Horrible jobs we’ve had recently. Everything felt natural and for once in a long while I didn’t feel alone.
I still tune in every day to their channel. Have felt like I was along for every step of the way. The ups and downs. Getting to know the new team members apart of their channel. The charities they help fundraise for. The members of the community they rally for. And everything in between.
I don’t participate in the local events as much as I’d like, or hop in the chats, but I know whenever I do I’ll be welcomed with open arms like I never left. So to anyone who says video games cause violent behavior, that video games corrupt the youth, that we must put a stop to video game culture as a whole… you’re wrong. Video games gave me happiness, they let me be myself, they were a reason to try something new.
Video games gave me a community.