If you’ve never experienced depression, it may be hard to comprehend just how soul shattering it is. Your enthusiasm is gone. Your drive is gone. It can be hard to do simple things, such as eat or keep clean, because of the senseless, crushing sadness. It sounds strange, I know, but the drive for self-preservation just isn’t there anymore. I experienced this for, sadly, most of my young life. It wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I began to come out of it and start the healing process.
A few years ago I was at a particular low point. I hadn’t dealt with past trauma properly, I felt very alone and helpless. At this time I didn’t game. I had briefly as a child, on my trusty blue Gamecube, but had somehow stopped. My mother didn’t have a lot of money, so things like consoles weren’t gifts I could realistically receive. I did later get a DS when I was older, but only had cheap games (that were more like the mobile games of today) for it. So the drive to continue wasn’t there. Then, in my early teens I got together with my partner. He had a large RPG collection and an Xbox 360, something which I’d never had access to before. Around the same time, my little brother got a 360 for his birthday. Knowing this, my partner insisted I try The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim at his house. He’d tried to show me other games he liked in the past, Dragon Age 2, Fable, etc, but they didn’t spring out to me – looking back, because I simply didn’t understand what they were about. And for someone who didn’t know anything about gaming, watching someone else play was pretty boring. Yet, I tried Skyrim. I was terrible at first (it took me an embarrassingly long time to be able to run up stairs) and I went along with it as you would a joke, to make your new boyfriend laugh, but the newness of it all drew actually me in, and he insisted I take it home.
Despite my melancholy, and unwillingness to contribute to anything, I got very sucked into this game. I spent many hours on it, annoying the entire family as the Xbox was downstairs with the TV. I got up extra early for school, not to do makeup like other girls my age, but to get an hour in on Skyrim before I had to get ready and leave. It was all I talked about. All I read up about, yes – I actually started researching into every bit of lore I stumbled across. I lived and breathed Skyrim. It sounds bad, to become so sucked into a virtual world, it may seem like I was missing out on real life. However, I became distracted from it, and my pain. The sense of wonder and adventure I felt daily meant I began to feel more positive. When I beat a boss, or finished a long quest, I felt a real sense of achievement. This eventually added to me feeling more positive in reality, and trying harder at other pursuits.
The time came to give the game back; I made sure I gave it back on a day we visited the town shopping center, so that I could buy my own copy before handing it back over.
For a long, long time I carried on with my devoted playing of Skyrim – and only Skyrim. It was a long time before I branched out into other games, let alone the other Elder Scrolls games. There was something so magical about Skyrim, and so homely. Sometimes I would simply just run around the expansive, beautiful landscape and just enjoy myself. It was a break from the real world, which I loved, and I have never had a gaming experience quite like it since. I will always hold Skyrim dear to my heart for the happiness it has brought me.
Knowing I am not the only person whose life has been changed by gaming brings me some solace. It’s good to know that games are appreciated in the way they should be: as adventures.