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A Thank You Letter to Video Games

My oh my things have been hectic in this world of ours, haven't they?

Beyond the relatively protective walls of my humble home in Seattle, Washington, there are all manner of terrible atrocities to navigate day in and day out lately.

This past year, I got a new job and made the move south from Bellingham. With the introduction of a world-wide pandemic, there's been no shortage of worries and fears to navigate as I head into work at the hospital everyday. The patients we work with are often faced with some of the worst news imaginable, and regardless of what else is going on in the world, they deserve my absolute best...but it hasn't necessarily been easy.

Aside from that, society, or at least some of it, has been facing up to its history and present, taking a good hard look at the way it treats people, people who deserve love and respect and support. Unfortunately, despite the fact that it's 2020, there are still far too many out there who are mistreated, disenfranchised, harmed simply because they look or sound or behave differently than those who decide to use and abuse them. It's a sickening, inexcusable behavior that I hope we can all agree needs to come to an unconditional end.

So yeah, the world has a lot of terrible things going on in it these days, and it is for this reason that I'd like to thank video games (some of them, anyway. They're not all good, obviously).

Now this isn't to say I don't have other good things to be thankful for in my life. I have a stable job, an unfathomably supportive partner, a family that wants the best for me. There's lots to give thanks for. This time, however, I just want to relax and offer up appreciation to something just a tad less serious.

I've been playing video games since I was 5 years old. I was given an original Nintendo Entertainment System for my birthday, the one with the cartridge that had both Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on it. It even came with the plastic, orange gun.

Who'd have ever thought a tiny TV and 8 buttons would have such a profound impact on a 5 year old? The moment you turn that game on, you know what to do. You see the world laid out in front of Mario, ready to explore, ready to see what's waiting. You see the dangers coming, know you have to overcome them to reach your goal. Even without reading the pamphlet or watching the commercials, it didn't take long to understand what was at stake, what the driving force behind Mario's need to jump so damn much was.

In the 30, yes 30, years since then, games have taken me places I never would've imagined. I've been to other worlds, faced off against hellish beasts, met mystical creatures, written my own legends and taken down a few others. I've swung over the streets of New York. I've saved lives in Morrowind and ended others in Yarnham. I've flown among the clouds and explored vast caves buried deep beneath a plethora of surfaces. I've captured more flags than I can count, crafted more armor than I could ever wear and failed more businesses than I'll ever work for. I've raced at ludicrous speeds against aliens and crashed more vehicles than I could ever afford. I've discovered new species I never new existed and a few that don't. I've survived the apocalypse, toppled great civilizations and countless other impossible things.

Games have made me laugh. They've made me cry. A single song can still conjure deep emotions tied to a narrative I'll never forget no matter how many years have passed. Games have introduced me to new friends half way around the world and brought me closer to ones sitting next to me on the couch. I've met heroes I'll carry with me always and villains that still haunt the darkest corners of my mind. I've seen beauty unimaginable and evil unparalleled.

Games have always given me so much to appreciate. They've given me hope, an escape, tales of good triumphing over evil, of heroes protecting the innocent. They've shown me that even the best people can falter, can fail, can lose their way...and that they can come back from any terrible thing they may endure. They've taught me that the only barrier to reaching your goal is to stop trying. Games have proven that different people from all walks of life can unify around a singular goal, even if it's something as ridiculous as defeating a giant lava tornado, as stressful as capturing a command point or as simple as solving a puzzle.

As I said before, they're not all perfect, not without their flaws. Many games are filled with troubling concepts or terrible game-play. Some are hard to look at while others are just plain boring. Just like life, there are both good and bad options to choose from. The only thing that matters is finding those gems that speak to you, the ones that fill you with the emotions and memories you cherish and appreciate, even if no one else feels the same. That's right, I didn't hate the end of Mass Effect 3, what of it?

So yes, I'd like to thank video games. Thanks for all the stories. Thanks for all the fascinating and lasting characters. Thanks for the phenomenal soundtracks. Thanks for the mind-blowing visuals. Thanks for the good times and even the frustrating times that felt so good to overcome after the hundredth time. Thanks for just being entertaining, charming, inspiring, engrossing, mesmerizing. Thanks in general for just offering somewhere to turn for experiences I could never find anywhere else. Thank you.

What games have added positivity to your life? What other forms of entertainment make you feel good? Is there a game you've played or a movie/show you've watched or a book you've read that no one likes but you? What is it? I'd love to hear.

And what other things would you like to hear about from me? Let me know if there's a topic you're just dying to hear my take on.

Thank you for joining me.

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