I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not love stories.
From my earliest memories, I can recall reading and listening to stories throughout the day, whether it was picture books, audio dramas on cassette, or those old turn-the-page-when-you-hear-this-sound records I would play on my brightly-colored record player. I loved stories. I would take them any way I could get them.
I love all kinds of storytelling and all kinds of art. As an artist and a storyteller myself, I appreciate every medium – whether its painting and drawing, music and sound, film and imagery-in-motion, or the written word, they all speak to me on different levels.
As an adult, I love these things because I am an artist and a storyteller. But back then, I became an artist and a storyteller because of my love for these things.
I can still smell the basement of the house in which I grew up, can still see the battered old desk unit where my brother had his Nintendo Entertainment System set up. I don’t remember the exact moment I first saw The Legend of Zelda, but that was the first game that made an indelible impression on me, and it was the first game that made me fall in love with games as a medium, not only for storytelling, but for the limitless possibilities of imagination itself.
Though the written word is and forever will be my first artistic love, video games occupy a very unique place in my creative and imaginative DNA. No other medium is capable of giving you control of the story and setting you loose in an entirely new world. Games have taught me puzzle-solving, critical thinking, how to think outside of the box and find creative solutions, and introduced me to concepts and ideas I might not have otherwise encountered, including elements of mythology, history, and philosophy.
Not only that, but it is the only pastime that allows me to literally forget about the troubles and worries that are plaguing me, and lets me escape into another world, if only for a brief time. Video games should not serve to disconnect us from the world in which we live, but can be used as a respite from it.
I have had adventure after adventure because of gaming.
I have been born, time and time again, new in every age, seeking out a legendary sword to vanquish the foe that threatens the land.
I have walked the dank and echoing hallways of a city at the bottom of the sea. I have strode across the soaring ramparts of a city in the sky. I have entered the door in the lighthouse, and seen how all these are connected.
I have formed first a tenuous, then an unbreakable bond with a young girl as we trekked through a plague-ravaged wasteland, and somewhere along the way she became my daughter, and my selfishness will affect not only our own lives, but the entire world.
I have been stalked through the dark, flickering rooms of a derelict space station, using only my wits and what little gear I can salvage to survive against otherworldly horrors that may once have been human but are now anything but, puppets of entities beyond comprehension.
I have brought every tool at my disposal to bear, both natural and supernatural, wreaking havoc and raining my vengeance down on those who betrayed me, murdered my family, and took away my kingdom.
I have walked through the shadows of the filthy future, battled through the corridors of mega-corporations and secret agencies, chasing the truth along the trail of a conspiracy that could bring an end to mankind on the brink of its own revolution.
I have become the hero of the age, the Dragonborn, the one that prophecy foretold. I have battled the undead, dragons, and forged myself into a legend.
I have donned the cape and cowl, defending Gotham City from an entire pantheon of villains, confronting not only their madness, but my own as well.
I have wandered a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland, doing anything and everything I can to help humanity get back on its feet.
I have been a soldier battling against a conglomerate who seeks to drain the magic from the planet, and along the way I have discovered the truth about my origin and the origin of my arch-nemesis, learning that our fates are inextricably intertwined.
I have been a prince, and watched as my father, my home, and my kingdom were all stripped away from me. With the help of my three most loyal friends, I have taken back my throne, and vanquished the one who sought to bring night down upon all the world.
I have captained a starship, travelled to the distant edge of the galaxy, and confronted an ancient and powerful threat, gathering friends and allies for a battle that could very well be humanity’s last.
I have been the subject of a battery of experimental tests, broken out of a remote lab-facility, defeated a rogue A.I., and I didn’t even get any cake.
I have hunted monsters, griffins, dragons, werewolves, and spirits, all while following the trail of my greatest student and adopted daughter, trying to save her from the clutches of a group of ethereal gods.
I have traversed a lonely, empty world, seeking even a moment’s worth of contact, discovering genuine beauty and simple wonder along the way.
I have been a bounty hunter hurtling through the vast reaches of space and hunting through the depths of alien worlds in pursuit of a species that could literally drain the life from the universe.
I have fought side by side with my brother and my friend, battling across the solar system, protecting the last city of mankind from imminent threat, the shadow of the darkness that comes from beyond the stars.
I have explored the ruins of a vast ancient civilization, holding the hand of a lonely girl, climbing the stony sides of great, lumbering giants, and riding on the feathered back of a creature that, against all likelihood, became my friend.
I have hunted snarling beasts and terrifying phantoms through the dark alleyways and across the cracked cobblestones of a sprawling gothic city, coming face to face with celestial mysteries and Lovecraftian monstrosities, and seeing those same monstrosities in myself.
I have lived a hundred, no, a thousand lives.
I read a lot of books. We all have the shows and movies that we love. And I have absolutely no qualms with mentioning video games in the same breath.
Every book you read, every movie you watch, every story you’re told, and every video game you play is another life that you get to live, giving you a new perspective that you may have never considered, allowing you to travel to worlds you would never be able to visit, to do things you would never be able to do, giving you experiences that would not otherwise be possible.
It is safe to say that I would not be the writer I am today without the influence and inspiration of the games that I love. They have had a significant role in my creative development, provided me with hours of enjoyment, and have taken me on unforgettable journeys. For that, I am grateful.
Plus, y’know, just...video games are cool, alright?