According to my parents and teachers, video games were making us into violent killers. Bully was inspiring me to beat up kids at school. Adult me would kill people and steal their cars just like in Grand Theft Auto. Thanks to Tekken, I would go outside and pick fights with what I learned in three weeks of karate class. How ridiculous all of this was! I was a purple dragon flying around setting fire to my enemies, not some criminal.
Now, maybe 15 years later, it seems we all grew up fine - or at least well enough to joke that Frogger taught us to cross the road, have real dogs rather than pets in Dogz 5, and be really bored by The Sims (I spend enough time cooking in real life!).
No, video games didn't inspire me to be violent - or, at least, to other people.
To be clear - life is great, I'm ready for the challenges the next few years will bring, and I don't experience the call of the void. I'm safe.
And yet, I sometimes get the urge that stepping off a rooftop will fix everything. Violence is everywhere in fiction, but only video games introduced me to the concept of save points.
How many times did I throw Spyro off a ledge to reach that elusive gem?
How many times did I kill Jak while exploring?
How many times did I let my entire Final Fantasy team die because I just made that one mistake that would ruin the boss battle?
And each time, Spyro, Jak, whoever, would be regenerated at the last save point with a chance to get the quest right, make it perfect, get 100% completion and unlock the hidden bonus scene. I died so many times that I can partially forget - if I die, I die in real life.
I know there are no save points, but a while back I was standing on a roof wondering just how I messed everything up so much. I thought - if I jump it'll be a week ago and I won't procrastinate on that grant application! Or maybe it will be ten years ago and I'll try out that other story line that seemed more exciting but more financially risky. In another world I'll be nine again, on the verge of screaming - you can't sell that puppy that one's mine don't you dare! And I won't suppress the scream this time around. I'll fight to the bitter end, the way I fought when they made me go to to the doctor even though I wasn't sick, even though there's no chance of success. As in fantasy fiction, it doesn't matter if I win as long as I fight!
Never mind me - it'll be the year 500 and we'll turn to science rather than religion in the face of the unknown. It'll be 40,000 BC, and we'll keep the Neanderthals alive. It'll be 4.5 billion years ago and we'll be hyperintelligent jellyfish! We'll swim through the oceans and wonder - what is that other liquid above us? What lies past it? The world will be young, we will have so much potential, and it will all be fine, just fine.
Please excuse my terrible knowledge of history - if I could just go back to an alternate universe, I'd pay attention in social studies class.
Video games didn't make me into a homicidal maniac - but those moments on the edge of reality where I forget that I am here, and this is now, I think - it would be easy, so easy, to just go back to the save point and try again. Try again and again and never give up until I try all the different
paths, unlock all the endings!
Heck, maybe I'll jump and it'll be ten minutes ago and I won't get depressed over stuff I
didn't do when I was in elementary school (what a stupid nostalgic moron I am), finish my work, and enjoy the spring air. Despite the urge to post angsty writeups, this life's not so bad, after all.