|How My Granddad's Death Brought Me Back To Gaming|
|Posted: 07.08.2012 10:52 by Marco Fiori||Comments: 7|
My grandfather died aged 90 in May 2012. It was the first experience of death I’ve had as an adult. I didn’t know what to do – was I supposed to be strong for my family; should I cry? How about just staring blankly whenever someone gave me condolences?
All of a sudden the energy I had for my interests left me. Films were too difficult to concentrate on, TV seemed to mock me with humour – even reading couldn’t taken my mind off the obvious. But games? Three months earlier I’d written in a sturdy proclamation that the medium had left me cold. For near on a year I’d struggled to play anything, not out of time, but out of enjoyment.
It seemed as though I was growing up (a statement that’s problematic considering the range of gamers’ ages) by spending less time on a childhood love.
So, after the first few days of solemn grief, I needed something to take my mind off things and help move forward. That was when Diablo III was released.
This presented a quasi-solution – it might have been one of mind numbing repetitiveness, but it seemed to plug a gap I was unable to fill with other activities. You see, Diablo III might be a great game with a potentially flawed business model, but I wasn’t interested in that – the reason it helped me grieve was because it offers just enough user-input to keep you from thinking too much, but not enough to force deeper concentration (which could be easily broken with grief).
Here Diablo was – click, click, click; move onto the next boss, grab the next chest – it gave a real sense of progression that other games seemed to ignore. In reality, Diablo III is the opposite – it’s a slot-machine that taps into our human instinct for shiny objects, ever increasing numbers and social play.
But, all of a sudden two weeks had passed; then a month. As I came out the other side, a fresh perspective on life waited for me (as everyone finds with events like the described). Suddenly it was obvious that the sadness had passed, but in its place was a peculiar reattachment with gaming.
As time went on Diablo III struggled to hold my focus – suddenly I needed a more fulfilling experience. The true colours of Blizzard’s hack n’ slash were laid bare, but it didn’t matter at this point. It had served its purpose – it had taken my mind off the obvious just enough to ensure time healed.
Since then I’ve spent time with Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City – it’s as though I’ve come out rejuvenated. Ironically, I’ve also spent less time mooching on the internet – not wasting time has become a major concern even at the age of 24. But, enough about me – more about the healing potential of video games.
A lot is said about gaming’s objective and legacy. Some will argue its artistic merits and whether it can be held alongside traditional forms of art. Others look to escapism as its driving force or as a mere form of popular entertainment; it is nothing more than something to distract.
As experience has shown, it has the potential for good and can change lives. It might not seem obvious when a person is playing, but they make a conscious decision to give their time, energy and a part of them to the gaming experience.
Something is always returned – enjoyment, distraction, healing, [ill] health, social bonding, anger relief or fun. The psychological benefit of games is still being discussed and while the newspapers focus on the bad [‘mass killer used to play GTA’] with bad reporting and sensationalist headlines, there’s plenty of good out there to look at.
Gaming as a grieving tool is certainly one of them. Tastes undeniably change as adult commitments take hold of people, but when I ponder the worth of gaming, if its only positive was to help my growth and recovery, then it can be said all those hours were not wasted.
Of course, this could be an exception – my break from gaming could have been a natural one or I might have even been moving past the hobby completely like I thought. Furthermore, if Diablo III hadn’t had offered the hand-holding progression and reward-based thrills, this article might have been different. I might have been praising reading’s power to progress people or how The Big Bang Theory helped me heal.
Regardless of that fact, gaming is a powerful medium that makes people feel a range of emotions as well as suppress them. It can heal, but it can equally cause harm to people’s development and health.
That said, its worth and value for the human race should never be belittled. It’s a valid point to question its merit individually on your own life, but it’s too powerful a form for so many others to suggest otherwise. Looking to the future it’ll be fantastic if the industry can provide the same worth to others. Obviously time will tell.