Think about the basic summary of any romance drama where everything is going well and then, all of a sudden, the voice over says: “But fate had other things in store”. And then, everything falls apart.
I know it is clichéd, but these things happen in real life too.
In my case, fate dealt me a card in August 2009 when my father passed away. I was 11 and in Class 5. Prior to that, everything was just fine. Sure, I didn’t have many friends back then but at least I had my family. I was enjoying my childhood by playing cricket, going to holidays and watching cartoons or anime.
But the death of someone so close to me gave me a first taste of reality.
All of sudden, things that made my childhood great seemed pointless. I felt disillusioned with life. It was also the time when I was bullied for the first time in school and my grades started to fall, especially when it came to Math and Science.
Cut to June 2010, and I received an unexpected gift – a PlayStation 2. My aunt brought the console from the US along with 12-13 other games. Out of those, three games caught my eye. They were ‘Star Wars Battlefront’, ‘Sly 2 and the Band of Thieves‘ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Unleashed‘. It became my introduction to not just the world of video games, but also the Star Wars franchise.
It was a lot of fun playing the games with my American cousins. For those few hours, I would forget all the horrors of reality. The games gave me the strength to deal with life. And things were going to get a whole lot worse.
When I was in Class 6, the bullying got worse. I was forced to do things I didn’t want to do. The bullies treated me like an errand boy and expected me to treat them like royalty. They wanted me to respect them even though they didn’t deserve it. The teachers and even the principal of the school tried to diffuse the situation, but there was little they could’ve done and I don’t really blame them. It was the school system that was at fault for not having stricter anti-bullying policies. Probably, they have it now but I am sure it’s only on paper.
So the bullying really messed up my self respect and self esteem, which was why I had a low opinion of my self. My video games helped me ease my frustration. Every time I beat up bad guys in the game, it gave me pleasure and a sense of feeling that someday I too would stand up to my bullies. However, I later realised that I hadn’t been raised to be violent; that I was supposed to treat people kindly and retaliate only if things got way out of hand. It was a lesson I should’ve learnt a long time ago.
Anyway in 2013, I got ‘Star Wars Battlefront 2’ and in the coming years, the game became my absolute favourite. Unlike the first game, which was mostly about warfare, this one had a story. It’s a simple story about a retired clone trooper who gives his perspective on the horrors of war that ranged from the sands of Geonosis to the snow deserts of Hoth.
Remember I told you about my grades dipping, especially in Math? It got worse by the time I got to Class 9. Long story short, I used to love Math but lost interest after my father’s death. Adding insult to the injury, coaching classes and private tuition made the environment even more toxic. And just like that, I failed in one of my Math exams and I had to lie to my family that I had passed. When the truth finally came out, I was scolded like never before.
The aftermath of the scolding taught me two things – that I would never lie about my marks ever again and that improving my Math was a lost cause. So finally, I decided to choose Arts after my Class 10 board examinations and kick Math to the curb once and for all. Hence, as soon as I came to Class 10, I didn’t care about improving my grades anymore. I just wanted to pass and put it all behind.
In June 2016, my aunt from the US brought a PlayStation 4 for me out of the blue. It was really unexpected, but I loved it. One of the games, ‘Metal Gear Solid 5′, became one my favourite games because you can play the same missions in 50 different styles – either with stealth or full guns blazing.
There were other games that I feel personally attached to like ‘The Last of Us‘, which gave me a sense of nostalgia about my school days because of its two main characters – Joel and Ellie – and the beautiful story Naughty Dog wrote. And then there was ‘Death Stranding‘, which I had a love-hate relationship because of difficult terrains, soothing music by a band called Low Roar and the story about connection.
To sum it up, video games have helped me in many ways. They are the reason why I recently started drawing. They taught me about human connection and interaction – something I never learnt in school. And they also helped me develop my thoughts and my understanding capacity. People have a lot of things to say about video games but for me and other million of players, it had defined our lives and I owe them everything for that.
Anish Bala is a law student currently studying in Amity Law School, Noida and he loves drawing, writing articles and playing video games. You can find him on Instagram @bargad97.
Featured image credit: Anish Bala