Player Narrative

A picture of various views of a monarch emerging from its chrysalis. Creator: CathyKeifer
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Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I have always considered myself a gamer. Whether it is video games, role playing games, board games, or sports, I enjoy the thrillness, competitiveness, and enjoyment one gets from playing. This was not always the case however. I grew up in a family who did not believe in gaming. They did not value games as a form of entertainment or a way to grow. They saw games as a distraction from the important things in life, mainly school. This harsh attitude towards playing games most likely stemmed from the fact that they both grew up in tough households. My parents were raised in communist Yugoslavia, and left for the U.S. after the civil war. Children there were raised like soldiers, with heavy stress placed on schooling and success, and little on enjoyment and creativity. Because of my parents’ background, I rarely played games, and I was certainly not allowed to play video games. I was not able to properly grow during my childhood because I spent most of my time being taught to, rather than experiencing things myself. During the weekends I would go to tutoring instead of playing with my friends. I studied all the time, and rarely had time for myself. Although books still played a huge part in my life, I never felt like it was enough for me. I read about characters going on adventures and seeing the world, while I stayed at home. I never felt like I was in control. This all changed when I played my first video game. 

To say it took my parents a lot to allow me to play a video game is an understatement. Only after I got diagnosed with cancer and a recomendation from my doctor did my parents finally cave in and get me a DS. Ironically, in a period in my life where I spent all my time in a hospital bed, I never felt more alive. Playing Super Scribblenauts was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had up to that time. The concept of the game was simple, but the possibilities were endless. You control a boy with a notebook in which whatever you write becomes real. You explore castles, deserts, and jungles solving puzzles and helping people in need. To me, this game was an extension of my life. Desert travelers need supplies for their journey, what supplies do I give them? The knights in the castle need help saving the princess, how do I help? I spent most of my childhood writing things in my notebook, to little effect. Now I could use my thoughts and ideas to express myself in a world where I could see a product of my thoughts. 

Being able to read about adventures in books, and experience them myself through my DS changed me. I never had many friends, but after being exposed to my first game, and playing more after that, I felt much more open to the world. It was almost as if I was finally able to see the world, despite it only being in a video game. The creativity and independence I gained from playing helped me make decisions for myself in real life, and helped me better interact in the real world, just as I did in my games. Through the game Super Scribblenauts, I was able to grow as a person in a way I was not able to before. Fortunately my parents understood this, and saw the positive change in me. After I beat my cancer, they were supportive of me playing video games as long as it did not interfere with my grades. Since then, videogames have been a big part of my life. It was a way for me to explore the boundaries of my thinking, experience things I might not be able to in my own life, and test my competitiveness against others.

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