What Gaming Means to Me
I’m an autistic woman, and I LOVE video games.
I’ve been playing them ever since the mid-90s; when my first handheld was a bright yellow Gameboy pocket, and my first home console was a Sega Mega Drive II. (You could probably work out my age from that!)
But as I’ve “evolved” from a child to an adult (a little Pokémon reference for you there), so have the video games, and what they mean to me in this complicated world. They’ve “evolved” to be more important than a simple way to pass the time.
In this blog post, I’m going to tell you about how video games help me to survive in the real world, and, as the title suggests, what they really mean to me.
You’ve earned a trophy!
Now, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of myself. My self-confidence is quite low, and I very rarely have much faith (if any) in my “real world” capabilities. (I’m slowly trying to get better at that, though.) But that’s where video games come in.
Playing video games gives me a massive sense of accomplishment and pride. It gives me the chance to say “I did that! Me! I did it!” The world was saved thanks to my hard work and efforts. I overcame the intimidation of the long journey ahead of me and became League Champion. I didn’t give up; I persevered, and I beat the boss.
And those feelings matter a lot to me. When I can struggle with something as simple as washing dishes in the real world, it’s reassuring to know that I’m actually capable of so much more. (Even if it’s doing fantastical tasks in a fictional world.)
I’ve got the controller
I’ve never kept these things secret, but aside from my autism, I also live with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); the latter I’m hoping to cover in a future blog post. They’re very exhausting to deal with; and though you may think the OCD (specifically) gives me a lot of control, it actually takes a lot of my control away.
Enter video games.
Whenever I play my games, all the control I lose in the real world is given back to me. Where I go, when I go there, what needs to be done, when I need to do it, how many times it needs to be done…… I get to decide these things.
There’s no voice in my head telling me “You didn’t do that right. Do it again. And again.” In video games, when a task is done, it’s done. It tells you it’s done, and you move on. And there’s no patterns you absolutely must follow (as there is with OCD). You get to decide how you do things.
It’s so hard to get through the day at the mercy of these mental forces that are, so often, out of my control. I can’t tell you how much it means then, to be in these fictional worlds where, for however long I play, I get to be in charge.
Fleeing the complex
This next point should come as no surprise, but one of the biggest ways video games help me is by giving me an escape – freedom, from the struggles of my conditions (and daily life in general).
When I’m collecting monsters and gym badges, I don’t have to check the taps and plug sockets. When I’m finding ancient artifacts, I can forget about how long it takes to wash my hands. When I’m slaying demons, I don’t need to worry about the weird looks I get from strangers when I do my rituals.
I can forget about all the things that make my life difficult because in the worlds of video games, those problems, my problems, don’t exist. I can take however many hours I need and be free – be someone that doesn’t have anxiety or OCD. Or something that doesn’t struggle because of the way their brain is wired.
And even when I’m not actually playing, just listening to the games’ MUSIC can be just as powerful, as it takes me away to those worlds where I’d much rather be.
I mean, who doesn’t want to “escape” their struggles for a few hours, right?
There are lots of other ways video games help me, that are just as important as the ways I’ve already mentioned. But so that I don’t run the risk of this blog post droning on, I’ll try listing some of them in a bit of a “quick fire” segment.
- Gaming gives me a COMMUNITY to be part of. I can talk to my fellow gaming friends about my adventures, discover new games to play, go to conventions/events, meet new people and maybe even make some new friends. (Provided I can avoid the toxic gamers out there.)
- As an artist, video games can contribute a lot to my IMAGINATION. They can influence my style, give me new characters to put my own spin on, and even inspire me to create my own original character to exist in those universes.
- Since I don’t always get to see my friends as often as I’d like, playing video games can also help with my LONELINESS. By spending time with all the fictional characters (that can start to feel like friends), I can be as loud and animated as I would be with my real friends.
The True Ending
I’m an autistic woman, and I LOVE video games.
They give me a sense of accomplishment and pride, control over my actions and an escape from my daily struggles. Not only that, but they also give me a community to be part of, fuel for my imagination and they play a huge part in combating my loneliness.
It’s safe to say they’re not just a form of entertainment to me, they genuinely mean so much more.
Video games are a lifeline, and I won’t let anyone tell me they’re a waste of time.