Editor’s note: Hi everyone! Please welcome our guest collaborator Victoria Janelle Wright, editor-in-chief over at The Feather Mag! With this collaboration, we wanted to present an alternate perspective on relationships through video games, as well as highlighting how people can interpret objectives differently. Enjoy!
There are a few reasons why I enjoyed certain video games so much growing up:
- The challenge to win and characters often based in fantastical worlds.
- My slowing receding yet still very real introversion.
- And the story line, often related to a love story about a die hard protagonist embarking on a dangerous yet valiant quest to save his or her love interest.
Cliche? Outdated? Narrow-minded? Perhaps, depending on how you perceived the story lines in the games that had me hooked on their super inflated love stories. What might not be so cliche is not a young girl interested in a fairy tale love storyteller. Instead my infatuation with the game play and story line was actually a mirror of how devoted i was to my causes and the people I cared about in life, and my perpetual tendency to disallow people to do the same for me.
My first experience with this narrative was playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with some friends one Sunday after church when I was about 10-years-old.
It wasn’t even my game – I simply was the bright-eyed passenger watching my friend drive through the game like his life depended on it. However, I wasn’t too caught up with the actual game play – my attention was focused on when Link would make it back to Zelda. To me, the idea of someone being so focused on reaching another that they would literally go through hell and back was the true definition of devotion, and I wanted to experience it further.
So I begged my mom to take me to Blockbuster (still miss it), and I rented my own version of the game. And when I tell you I was devoted to freeing Princess Zelda from Ganondorf’s clutches, there was no stopping me from leaving my seat in front of the console.
I was hooked. I had always had a big imagination as a kid, and the fantastical themes of many of the role playing games I played fit my interest. But what kept me coming back was the thrill of fighting for love. In Final Fantasy X, it was Tidus’ willingness to do anything to stop Yuna from essentially sacrificing herself to save the world. In Kingdom Hearts, It was Sora’s unproclaimed love for Kira that ultimately got him to leave his tiny island and set sail to rescue her from a literally heartless enemy.
As I got older, my responsibilities and interest began to shift and video games inevitably became less of a priority. But my focus on devoted love didn’t leave, and I began to seek that out in my external environment. I question if friends and lovers would fight for me the way I fought for them. I wonder if anyone would come to my rescue, from worst case scenarios like a late night phone call from the hospital to lighter experiences such as needing to borrow a couple of dollars for parking when I didn’t have cash readily available. I registered all these questions internally, allowing the anxiety to become heavier and heavier. Because of this mistrust, I eventually became impenetrable with sharing my emotions and needs, believing that showing that level of vulnerability would make me appear weak and needy. On the surface I was the friend who could always help, the person who could always be there when things seemed dire. But when it came to asking for that help from others, I was stumped.
Now reflecting as an adult, what I learned from playing these games is that I wasn’t enamored with the how a character was being rescued, but instead the games mirrored how devoted I was in love. But I was too scared to ever let those feelings surface, so I kept them buried.
Of course, building those fantasies in your life eventually leads to the scenarios you so desperately are trying to avoid in the first place. Eventually the weight of keeping my vulnerabilities locked up became harder than the quest itself, and I let go and shared my trust and heart for the Zelda’s in my life.
We hang on so tight to control our lives, but it’s a fallacy. Life isn’t a video game – there is no cheat sheet, no do overs when you die – it’s the “here and now” that matters most. And when that sinks in and you allow things to flow to you, including help and love, it does make things a bit more fantastical. Even at times, magical. It might not always be easy to do so, but then again, what game have you played that you really enjoyed and was super easy? It is the hardest quest that is the most rewarding when we see how far we’ve come, how many levels we’ve beaten to get the thing we were most devoted to from the start.
Victoria Janelle Wright is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Feather Mag, a digital publication that explores how self-care, self-discovery on culture intersect. You can read more of her musings on the human experience and other stories at www.thefeathermag.com