Recently we’ve seen a whole bunch of mainstream media coverage concerning video games and their supposed connection to violence.  Unfortunately, these anti-video game folks display a real lack of understanding as to what they're truly discussing. Video games are not a means by which young adults turn into violent killers for no other good reason.  Video games are an art form, a means of entertainment, similar to that of television shows and movies.  Because of that, video games have had a profound effect on many lives — including mine — and the effects are often positive.

I started gaming when I was very young, before I even began schooling.  The NES, Sega Genesis, and the PC were all integral parts of my childhood.  I have a brother who is five years my elder.  And, like any little brother does, I always followed him around.  Early on, video games were something me and brother could always do together.  Rain, snow, or shine, video games were there.  They were a medium through which we connected, and did so often.  I didn't know it, but I was nurturing a future passion of mine, and I have my brother to thank for that.

As I grew older, I became more and more interested in the world of gaming.  By the arrival of the Nintendo 64, I had started to form a deeper understanding.  Games weren’t just an enjoyable but mindless pastime.  They were an escape, an avenue for which my mind to travel upon.  The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a special game for many gamers, and for me, it represents the turning point.  

My grandmother had taken my brother, my cousins, and me out to do some shopping.  Since my birthday was right around the corner, she let me pick out one game as an early gift.  At my brother’s behest, I chose Ocarina of Time.  My young mind was enamored.  I couldn’t fully understand the sheer complexity and size, but things began to click.  For the first time, I saw the full potential of video games.  And as the years went by, my love for games grew ever stronger.  This generation brought along the realization that I wanted — and needed — to pursue a career in the video game industry.

I’ve always considered myself a knowledgeable person.  I can honestly say that a significant portion of that grey matter is at least in part due to video gaming.  Not only on specific subjects like ancient to medieval history — thanks to Age of Empires — but on a more basic level.  I’ve picked up plenty of little tidbits over the years.  For example, the Persona series places players in the position of a Japanese high-schooler, and I learned about things like the usage of suffixes when addressing one another, or the history of the samurai.  I’ve been gaming for about seventeen years, and just like someone who has been reading for that long, there have been a multitude of educational benefits.  WWII shooters helped spark my interest in the subject.  To this day, I still can rattle off far too many facts about the specifics of the Normandy invasion. History ended up being my strongest subject in school, and I believe I have video games to thank for that.

I briefly mentioned earlier my views concerned games and art.  When it comes to video games as an art form, I’m deadset on helping everyone come to the conclusion that they indeed are art.  Games' storytelling, art style, and music have all had a heavy influence on my personality and taste outside the gaming world.  I appreciate a good story, filled with rich characters and unique locales.  I prefer music with a purpose: a true and genuine purpose.  Much of what I hear others listening to is so lifeless and uninspired.  

In fact, I feel that there is no better form of human expression through the use of creative arts than video games.  Think about it.  You don’t just play a passive role; you become a part of the story and the world.  You interact with your fellow characters. That’s something no other form of entertainment or art has ever provided.

Looking beyond games as an art form, they can also function as an escape.  They’re a portal to another life, one that allows us to forget about our own troubles.  And I have pretty great existence, to be honest.  My family has always been there to support me and teach me how to lead a good life.  I have friends who are willing to share a laugh, but then turn right around and have a serious lifechat.  I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done.  

There are only a few things I don’t possess that truly feel missing.  Unfortunately, no life is without hardship; I learned earlier than most.  A few months after graduating high school back in 2010, I lost one of my closest friends in a car accident.  He too enjoyed the many blessings of video games.  We often talked about new releases and what we were currently playing.  When he passed on, I — like any 18-year-old kid who had just lost one of his best friends — was over-whelmed with grief.  Video games were a vital part of me dealing with the first real loss I had ever experienced.  They provided an escape.  Little by little, I was able to focus on games as a healthy distraction.  Sure, I relied on my family and friends to help me through, but they couldn’t be there 24/7.  If I was ever all alone, I could still drift away into a happier state of mind, thanks to games.

Explaining my love for video games is difficult, if not damn near impossible.  I hear a favorite tune from a beloved game and euphoria sweeps over me.  Strike up a conversation about games, and I’ll likely talk your ear off.  Video games are a passion, one to which I’m a willing to dedicate years of my life.  I hope someday when I have kids, they too will enjoy gaming like I have.  I do this because I want to share that feeling of zeal with others, in hoping they get to experience the same sort of joy. 

There is nothing quite like gaming.  Movies, T.V., books; none of them compare.  The magic and bliss that is gaming is nearly indescribable.  I hope my meager attempt at articulating the inexplicable has helped you understand at least the tiniest fraction of why I love this medium.