The world is such a cruel place. It’s often difficult to survive and take care of yourself while going through the storm of earning income, paying bills, managing your personal health, and getting through it all while still finding time to sleep and enjoy life. It’s hard seeing suffering locally and around the world without being able to do anything about it. Society builds this box around us where it feels like we’re powerless beyond our own lives.
We can vote, protest, and demand a better world for everyone, but it’s still horrifying witnessing others going through suffering that we’re often unable to help against or interrupt. It’s hard going through life wielding empathy without having enough power to fix the problems happening all around us. It’s overwhelming being small and powerless. Video games have helped change that for me.
It’s hard living in this world, but video games lift my spirit and give me the ability to directly impact the lives of others in a meaningful and immediate way. Yeah, they’re fictional people—as are the actions of my in-game character—but it feels real enough when I’m fully immersed in this world where I’m not powerless and can make a difference.
I vote to make life better for everyone in my city, state, and country. I support and donate to organizations that champion good causes around the world. I protest and fight against all forms of hatred. But my heart still swells with pain when I look around me because I still see all of the problems I’m fighting against and wanting to change. But after doing everything I can to push for a better world, I can disassociate just a bit and sink into a story and world where I can experience unrestricted kindness and unleash empathy in a world where I’m the main character. I can be the hero in these digital stories. I can matter more. I can make a difference.
I believe most people are good people that would do more to help others if they weren’t constantly exhausted or impoverished. Night in the Woods takes place in a rough world just like ours where layoffs, unemployment, death, and being behind on bills are unfortunately just part of life. The characters are anthropomorphic and it’s a 2D side-scrolling adventure game, but every part of the screen is soaked in emotional depth. This world couldn’t be more like our own. And in this world, your character, a talking cat named Mae, is suffering and going through issues from mental illness, growing up, and coming to terms with how hard life really is. And you’re able to help her climb out of the hole her heart has fallen into and positively influence the characters around her. You’re able to come to terms with your mistakes and learn from them. You can apologize and grow, while also seeing the results more quickly than we see in reality.
Growing emotionally and psychologically is hard, and it’s not always possible to help everyone around you. Life doesn’t make it easy to love and care for others. Night in the Woods gives you the ability to experience life in a way that real life doesn’t. Our world doesn’t really let us just stop and live, but in games you can visit a neighbor on the roof and look for constellations as part of their routine. You can talk with a friend who is always sitting on the steps in front of their house. You can fight evil and feel like you’re making a difference.
Night in the Woods and so many other video games help me feel alive and real in a world that often just asks me to silently generate wealth for those above me without complaining and to make sure to pay my bills on time every month. Video games help me feel alive and give me a break from the heavy emptiness of reality.
Life happens quickly, and it’s hard to slow down and examine it all. We don’t often get the luxury to just pause and reflect. Even when we do have the ability to do so, it’s never enough. Life happens in these little moments that are over as quickly as they happen.
What Remains of Edith Finch is something I replay at least once every year because it resets and realigns my soul. As I control Edith Finch and learn about her family and what took place in their lives before they unfortunately left the world far before they anticipated, I see those moments. I’m able to think about how these moments were just regular moments to the Finch family at the time, but while having the luxury of hindsight on their behalf, I can see these little moments were special and powerful. I’m able to appreciate these moments more than they were able to and I carry that thinking forward in my life, by holding that knowledge close to my heart. I consciously focus on those little moments throughout every day of my life as often as I’m able to—because I know these little moments are my life.
Video games help me appreciate the moments of my life and allow me to feel human when reality asks me to fade into my surroundings. I’m grateful for the deep breath and comforting breeze video games provide for my mind and soul in this difficult world I’m trying to survive in.