Game On

Long time no see strange world! Miss me? I thought so. Well I’m back so without further adieu, I’m about to blow your mind so hard J.F.K. would be jealous (too soon?). Now those who know me and those who have read my blogs know how important gaming is to me. I have covered gaming in a number of blogs (Those Awkward Times When Game Consoles Understood Me Better Than People Ever Would, The Graphics Aren’t As Great In Real Life, Neither Are the People, and Somewhere I Belong). When I was younger some would call me obsessed, I thought about video games, talked about them, and day dreamed about them. I hated school and nothing was better than getting home and firing up my Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, or PlayStation and getting lost in a world that wasn’t my own. Now y’all are probably wondering what was so great about the world within the game. It wasn’t so much the world within the game that was enticing but rather what it helped me get away from. Before we get into that, we have to do a Quentin Tarantino and do a time jump to the present for a bit.

So recently I went to a conference called “The Federation For Children With Special Needs” with a few of my co workers to host a technology playground. While walking around during my break, I stumbled upon a table that housed various children’s books that catered to different disabilities. The books were pretty cool but there was one that spoke to me in a way no other book could. The book is called “But It’s Just a Game” written by Julia Cook and Illustrated by Michelle Hazelwood Hyde.

The book follows a boy who’s so obsessed with video games that eventually it affects other aspects of his life and his mother has to teach him about time management. The book is supposed to be a lesson about executive function issues brought about by Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADD/ADHD but, there were a series of lines that really spoke to how I approached video games.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

This line stuck out because outside of that video game was a pretty confusing and sometimes painful childhood. Those who are familiar with my life know that I got bullied quite a bit because despite my best efforts, I stuck out like guy wearing a super hero costume in a church on Easter Sunday. You know that scene from South Park where Cartman thinks he’s invisible during a game of Ninjas and we walks across the stage naked and everyone can see him naked even though he thinks he’s cloaked? Well that what being on the spectrum as a child was like. I never really understood my strange behaviors like fluttering my eyes or licking my shoulders or hands, or lack of volume control, or the fact that people thought my speech sounded weird. I though I was normal until people told me other wise. During those years I felt as though I couldn’t do anything right and I was only a mistake away from turning people against me. There were never any second chances in life, no extra lives, continues, nothing, not even shields or defense buffs which would have been wonderful when people decided it was cool to put their hands on me or throw shit at me in a class room.

Video games were a great escape because it was the one place where making mistakes was encouraged and if you screwed up, you just started from the beginning and had an ample amount of chances to get it right. It was a world where I felt powerful, I truly felt like I was important, people actually valued my existence. Sure there were powerful enemies but, they all had a pattern and when you figured that pattern out it was game over for them. When I was younger, Neurotypicals are extremely unpredictable and therefore lacked they same attack patterns the video game villains did so you never knew if someone had your back or if they were waiting for the opportune moment to give you the Caesar treatment. Neurotypicals are a bit more predictable now but a decent amount of them still confuse me.

The next few lines will mimic the structure of the book a bit and will take you on to a little trip into my childhood an some portions of my college years.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like the guys that shot rubber bands at me in class, that kid who mocked me by talking to me in my own voice like I’m some kind of idiot.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like that girl who when I asked why people were playing “keep away” with my Gameboy told me “It’s because you’re retarded”

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like struggling in school while being in the shadow of your brother who was an honor roll student, did ballet, was in advanced reading, and was your family’s definition of a prodigy child.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like the high school physics teacher who lost his cool because after multiple explanations I just couldn’t grasp the current subject.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like constantly going to hospitals to visit a child psychologist for the umpteenth time not knowing what my mother meant when she told them I was Autistic

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like hearing the fifth grade teacher who practically gave up on you tell your mom to her face that she didn’t see her son getting very far and that me repeating sixth grade wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like those giant honors ceremonies at school that in theory celebrated success but halfway through became a painful reminder that academically you amounted to nothing.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like the people who constantly ask why my voice sounds the way it does instead of accepting the fact that everyone sounds different.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like those suicidal thoughts that popped up in my head for the umpteenth time.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like those job rejections I keep getting in my email.

“With the game controller in my hands, I’m the boss of my own world! I can be who I want and do as I please. I can get the highest score. I get all the all the chances I need. If I make a mistake it’s okay. Everyone think’s I’m it on a stick and all the bad stuff goes away”

Like getting rejected once again because people just aren’t willing to take the time to understand where you’re coming from as a person.

 

 

There are a lot of children on all parts of the spectrum that are really into video games, sometimes to the point that it dominates their life and even interferes with school. While it’s important to teach children time management, also learn to empathize with them because there’s probably a legitimate reason they find the world of the video game more enticing than real life. Video games were my solace growing up and with out them I’d be pretty mentally unstable. In moderation, video games are probably the best therapy they can get while at home. Now like all great games, books, and blogs, we have reached the end but I had a blast.

Stay classy….

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