They are more than mere entertainment.
We all love games. And, we all play them for our own reasons. Some of those reasons may be fun, but other people play them to relieve and reduce stress. They may even visualize a problem they may be facing. We play them to kill our monsters. They can help us learn and grow by facing fears. People say a lot of bad things about games, but I believe they are just unwilling to learn a new way to face their problems.
Games can help us experiment with things in life we could not normally do – like fall off of a 100 foot high tower and not actually die. It takes away the sting and the pain of reality, of the “one single, beautiful life” that can be so easily destroyed with one choice or mistake. And, I suspect this is part of why we get so upset when games are not as great as we hoped or expected.
Games help us grow, and face pain. They distract from pain too. They give us all (healthy or disabled) a chance to experience on an equal footing, and maybe be a bit more than we could ever hope to be. You can be a hero in a story, a changer of worlds and universes. The opportunity to live more than one life during the only one we have.
To be blunt – we all have our problems, please bear this in mind as I tell you this next part. I am not looking for sympathy. I am aware that we all have our sufferings, and that each and all of us is in a similar fate or near it. My own is just…different. That said, games are a large part of my fantasy world of escape, just as books have always been. They have helped me do more than cope. They helped me to learn and grow. Here is some of my story, so that you can see where I am going with this.
Today, now that I have some of my larger affairs in order, I can reflect upon what actually happened at my last genetics check-up. Over 2 years has passed since I had my last spine exam, where I lost over a degree in straightness. My scoliosis is steadily increasing. Whether this is because I sleep in a chair (I was sleeping in a graphic design chair for awhile) or because I don’t lay flat in a bed (too suffocating, and painful to be that flat) I don’t know. I do grasp that for Marfan affected individual it is not at all unusual.
What I also do know from the genetics check up is I am now 6’2”, down from 6’4 & 1/4”. So…maybe I have lost 2” or so. Not a happy thought.
This of course magnifies the issue and problem, and is why my primary genetics physician has been so adamant with me to have the spine surgery – my spine is getting worse by the year, and it is not uncommon for people in my position. The solution (of course) is surgery, meaning: Painful and long; fuse 2 vertebrae, insert 1/2 rod into upper spine, and add 2 support wires (or more) onto shoulder blades (tied down at lower ribs in back). It is complicated, it is painful, recovery could be long (from what I have heard). And…in my case it is also a life or death possibility – as warfarin (anticoagulant) factors into any surgery for me, it is a daily routine because I have artificial heart valves.
So, I have the valves and an aortic graft, (which means all future surgeries are ‘terrifying’, even minor dental) I could have a stroke if worse came to worse, without anticoagulants (and it could) which are required to be withdrawn to staunch any bleeding. Anticoagulants are given to people such as myself so that clots do not form on the valves, as a persons body wants to “repair” the problem area. So, all considered – I’m not even factoring WHO would take care of me for 3-6 months or more (up to a year) for recovery.
It is also probable that there would be some fallout from the surgery, meaning – the wires can come loose, and cause pain (or worse, as it is not uncommon), and be dangerous, and there will likely be a period of pain adjusting to having my actual full height increase with a straight spine, making me a minimum of 6’6” or maybe more. Muscles that are not accustomed to that would also need some time to stretch and adjust.
I have avoided thinking about this for a long time now, because it is like everything and anything else surgical for me – it’s very dangerous, likely painful, the recovery long. On the other hand, if I refuse, eventually it is likely I will die of suffocation, because my lungs are slowly being crowded by my scoliosis / curved spine. It is always “life or death”, it always has been, it is always on the plate, always “the choice” and the problem. My opinion at this point is to avoid back surgery, I mean. I am 50, after all – 10 more years would make an acceptable life. And…20 might be excessively painful.
Add, my life is just one life in a sea of many.
A Life Beyond My Own
But that, in a nutshell…is why I have always loved reading books and playing great games. I can live a life beyond my own, beyond any emotional or physical pain, any fear or suffering, or the harsh unrelenting reality. And I don’t “need” games to be real – I have an abundance of ‘real’, thank you very much. I prefer fantasy, and science fiction, worlds to see, create and explore.
Games and books allow me to travel places my body will not allow me to go. I can do things beyond my scope and ability. I see universes I could not hope to. They allow me to live many lives maybe greater than my own. Games help me to bring my monsters into a physical world, translated from emotional and mental to something I can actually do battle with, to fight and maybe defeat. No longer are they fears or ideas, concerns or feelings. We defeated them, because our fears visualized and became material.
While some of us with, ah…”fewer problems” may see games merely as entertainment, many more of us experience games on a far greater level. They impact us, and change us, they add to our life and being. And, this is quite likely why a bad game can seem so very bad, and a great game so very superior. I like having fun just as much as anyone else does, that is true. But it is the unique, special game that comes along that makes me think, and grow, and ponder. Even to wonder, and live just a bit more. Sometimes I find small experiences in more ‘mediocre games’, but they certainly are quite rare and far apart.
A Hope for More
And that, I suppose is the core of my frustration and my anger when I rant and complain. At the end of the day I feel cheated and tricked by a poor or bad experience. I was lead to believe in something more and greater. I allowed myself to believe in it. Then, when I learned it was not so, I became not just angry at the game or it’s makers. I am also angry at myself. Then I feel like a fool for being taken in by supposed beauty, only to learn there is and was no personality or substance, no character, no growth, no one at all worth knowing. I would call it a “subtractive” experience, because I lost something, as opposed to gained.
Well, enough of that. I’m off to experience another dimension. See you next round.