This all seems so surreal. I’m writing this post for Game Informer, where you’re reading it. I’ve read dozens of intern posts like this one, but didn’t know if I’d get the chance to write one of these. I still can’t believe I’m here now.

A few months ago, the life I built for myself in Chicago eroded and I had to move back home with my folks. While I was there, I played Night in the Woods, mostly because the protagonist, Mae, also moved back in with her parents. I returned home to find a respite from all the changes I couldn’t control. Home is supposed to be this stagnant place where everything stays just as we remember it. But, as both Mae and I found out, no place is immune to change, just like no person is immune to it. The best way to survive a siege of variables is to dive into that constant, that passion that remains while everything else around you shifts. For me, that constant has always been video games.

They have been a part of my life literally as long as I can remember. My first memories came when I was three years old and had an extended stay at the hospital. I don’t remember every detail of my time there, but just three key moments: being carried into a car that was rushed to the hospital, calling my dad a few days later to tell him I was getting out, and being consumed with some generic baseball game on the NES. I went home from that ordeal a changed child, all thanks to video games.

Before I owned my first system, I snuck into my neighbor’s house through the garage to play Super Mario World. I was dragged away from my own birthday party because my friends and I were playing NFL Blitz too loudly for my parents to sleep.  I convinced my church that a youth group lock-in centered around chainsawing each other into gooey chunks of flesh in Gears of War would be good for camaraderie. I built MegaDen™ with my best friend so we could play Borderlands 2 side by side while he was recovering from chemo. Video games have always been there, but it took me a while to figure out how to turn that love into a career.

For the longest time, game journalism never really clicked together for me. In college, I focused my writing on either poetry or sports writing, but never felt at home in either department. It wasn’t until a month before I graduated with my degree in creative writing that I figured out I should be writing articles about video games, like the dozens of articles that I read every single day. So, I did what any sensible college graduate who second-guessed his degree choice would do: I created an alter ego (Mr. Game and Write), started a Tumblr, and began the grind. 

I’m not going to sit here and pretend to have some profound statement on what video games mean. We’re all here because, in some way, games have moved us and we all have something that we’re grinding towards. I just finally leveled up.

I played Night in the Woods towards the end of my time back home and it helped me reconcile what was one of the darkest times of my life. Now, I get to write about that experience and many more here to share them with you.  It took me quite some time to get that chance, but it’s a privilege I promise to make the most out of. For the first time in a while, I feel at home.