Who Would We Be?
Today before one of my weekly games, one of my players and I went out to our favorite Thai restaurant to enjoy a quick lunch before the others arrived. While waiting for our meal, I overheard on the television the tragic events that took place in Oklahoma this week, as well as the school shooting that took place in Decatur, Georgia. I always find it hard to believe that there are people out there capable of such senseless and evil acts. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have suffered due to these terrible events.
This also got me thinking about what sort of person I might be today had I not found a creative outlet when I was younger. Growing up, I was a very angry child. I hid it well, I think, but that did not make it any less the case. I was mad at the world for many things that were beyond my control. Why was it that I was constantly picked on at school? Why was it that I never got to know what it was to have a father? Why was it that I always felt alone, even when among family and friends? Why was it that no one ever seemed to really understand, or try to understand, what I was going through? Looking back on it, many of these questions are things that every young person has to deal with. I was not so different in that regard. A lot of kids got picked on. A lot of kids grow up in single-parent households, and I can only hope that those that do have a family half as wonderful and supportive as mine have been. A lot of kids feel alone and misunderstood. However, there was something different about me than most other kids in my school; not every kid I knew was built like a monster-truck.
I am a big guy, always have been and likely always will be. When I was younger, I was stronger than a lot of kids my age and it became very tempting to use that strength to get back at all those other kids who hurt me. I will not lie, I got into more than my fair share of fights. I cannot recall any I started myself, but that did not stop me from finishing them more often than not. Worse still, I cannot deny how good it felt to hit those other kids, to hurt them, to get even. There was a part of me that came to enjoy the fighting. Today, I would like to think of myself as a kind person, someone who cares about others, and who would do what I could to help someone else in need. I was not always that kind of person.
Fortunately, though, I found an outlet. Several, actually. I had creative writing, martial arts, reading, and most of all, I had my table-top games. These gave me avenues of channeling my aggression, of letting it out in ways that would not lead me into doing something I might later regret. Gaming introduced me to friends I might never have had were I not into gaming, friends who are as dear to me now as my own family. Gaming showed me that there are good people out there, people who do care about me, who do understand me, and most importantly, who accept me for who I am, faults and all. Now, I am not saying that gaming is the be-all/end-all of solutions to all of society’s ills. No, far from it, but it is a solution that might work for some. Things like sports and other after-school activities have often been shown to have positive effects on our young people, and rolling dice and telling silly stories with your friends is no different. So, in light of that, I ask that all of my fellow gamers out there extend a hand to someone you know who might be interested in trying gaming out, or maybe who are just looking for somewhere to belong. Who knows, your invitation might mean more to them than you’ll ever know.
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