From The Virtual World To Reality: How Video Games Changed My Life

Written by Loren Breon

Photo and Graphic by Diana Noko

Photo and Graphic by Diana Noko

Christmas morning, the sun was rising over the horizon, soft rays of sun entered my window and hit my face. I quickly got up and ran as fast as my five-year-old legs could carry me. As I entered the family room, my eyes instantly shot to the bottom of the tree. I grinned ear to ear and bolted to open them when I noticed one quite large. My eyes were drawn to the shiny red foil wrapping paper like a moth to a flame. I was surprised how dense it was as my weak arms began to tremble from the weight. I began ripping through the paper and was met with a green x. I asked my mother what it was because at the time I didn’t know how to read. “It is an Xbox,” she said with a tired voice. 

After all the presents were open I begged my mother to hook it up. The Xbox lit up and played that ringtone startup, a sound that gives me goosebumps to this day. The first game I played was Halo 2, a first-person shooter where I played as a seven-foot armored killing machine called the “master chief” alongside my trustee companion Cortana. However, before I started to go through aliens like wet toilet paper I ran into a slight issue. I couldn’t read. 

Tutorials might as well have just been written in Greek because there was no way I could comprehend it. This did not stop me, and I learned something that some people still don’t know how to do to this day. I learned to wing it. Through experimentation, failure, and repetition I learned the game mechanics. My reward was a progression through a game with gorgeous set pieces, action-packed cut sense, a magnificent orchestral score, and a mind-blowing story. I even played the game till the disc cracked from overheating in the console.

This is what made me fall in love with a medium that is unlike any other combining art, writing, music, and interactivity together to produce an experience that can only be described as magical. I played many games after this, but living in rural northwest Oklahoma had a drawback. I had no internet. This excluded any multiplayer or social aspects of gaming, which was fine at the time. Multiplayer was still in its infant stages and single-player games dominated the market. However, money was also a recurring problem, and video games are inherently expensive. My parents worked full-time jobs just to pay the bills and couldn’t afford to purchase games. 

Luckily, my mother worked in a large town that had a Movie Gallery. As a kid, that place was the equivalent to the Wonka Factory, aisles filled with movies, bins filled with candy and popcorn and also games. Most importantly, you could rent games, which allowed me to play a broad variety of games. I remember walking down the aisles, awestruck at all the selections. I played many third-person action games and first-person shooters, but one day I discovered a game that would transform my life forever. 

I had just turned eight and my mother took me to the movie gallery to pick out a game of my choice. As I started my usual exploration, I came across an odd box cover on the top shelf. It was not as flashy as the others so I decided to take a look. I was still having trouble reading at the time but I could make out the title “Morrowind.” I took a gander at the back of the box and couldn’t fully make out what it was. So on a whim, I decided to rent the game, brought it home and popped it in. As soon as it started up, I knew I was in for a different experience. The soundtrack of the game is one of my favorites of all time. The track “Nerevar Rising” still sends shivers down my back when I hear it. 

It’s hard to describe the pure mystical joy, this game gives me. The game hurls you out into a world that is one of the most interesting and foreign I have seen in a game to this day. From the giant mushrooms to the lava-filled hills, this game begged for exploration. Games like allowed me to live out the power fantasy of being the fierce warrior or the intelligent mage. As I got older, these games became invaluable to me, especially around the time of middle school. I had many long hard days and at the time. I had only a few friends and school was rough, to say the least. However, games like Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout New Vegas, Dragon Age, and many others gave me something to wake up too. Games like these cemented my love for them, allowing me to escape from the harsh realities of school and life. 

For quite some time, I thought video games weren’t popular. My mindset was video games were only still for nerds. I had never seen any shows about games, and with hardly any internet access I never came across any gaming news sites or coverage. That was until I came across a show called Xplay. It aired on G4 TV at 5:30 Monday through Thursday and featured video   coverage, reviews, tips, and skits. I started watching the program in 2009 at age 10. I loved the skits and rants of Adam Sessler. Along with the well-written reviews and games coverage, I immediately was hooked. 

I watched the show going into middle school, and it was probably one of the things that kept me going. School got exceedingly harder, and I lost quite a few friends. Without a lot of people to talk to, Xplay was my outlet for video games. It made me feel like I wasn’t the only person who cared and was interested in the medium. It inspired me while demonstrating the potential of making a career in the video game industry beyond making games. It also exposed to other outlets for game coverage such as IGN, Gamespot, and Giant Bomb. Xplay also covered conventions such as E3 and the Video Game Awards, proving that there were actually thousands of people who shared the same passion for video games that I did. Sadly, Xplay was canceled in 2012 because of low views and ratings, but it was the most influential part of my love for video games and the gaming community. I learned two valuable lessons through Xplay: how to look at games through a critical eye and that this was a hobby that was worth pursuing.

Fast forward to 2016, I had just got done working on a farm with my father and received my first paycheck. I went to the bank and deposited it and promptly got in my truck to drive to the local GameStop. It was time for an upgrade. My Xbox 360 was on its last leg and the Xbox One was the next best thing. So with my hard-earned money, I purchased the system along with two games, Sunset Overdrive and the critically acclaimed, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I immediately hooked everything up as soon as I got home only to be greeted by a firmware update. My router at the time had no password and automatically connected. This was the first time I had a console connected to the internet, which meant I could now game online. 

The first game I played online was Titanfall. Its fast-paced action-oriented gameplay made it fun to play casually and taught me a lot about the competitive side of games, although the social aspects of the game were lacking. I was seeking something fun to play with friends that was something more than just your basic shooter. While at school I overheard some of my friends speaking some gibberish about a recent game called Destiny. Now I had heard some things about the game but nothing stellar. I thought of it as an online Borderlands, a basic loot shooter with a heavy online focus. 

After some constant hounding from all of my friends, I finally bought it, and immediately started playing with friends. To my surprise, I found one of the best social games ever. The shooting was tight and felt good. The strike missions were amazing, and the loot loop was satisfactory. However, the main attraction was multiplayer. My friends taught me the basics and helped me through some of the more difficult missions. We soon started to play strikes, completed daily and weekly challenges, and playing as much as we could so we could complete the end game content. The end game content comes in the form of Raids, which were difficult and high level. They required the six players to solve puzzles, defeat powerful enemies, and battle bosses. 

Destiny was the first game I ever played till 3 am, but with all of my friends I barely even noticed. After a very lengthy grind to level up my player’s loot and level, we finally were able to play the first raid the vault of glass. It took two hours and was one of the most pleasurable and intense gaming sessions I had ever experienced. The insanity of holding harpies, goblins and a giant invincible death machine pelting plasma fire at us while looking for oracles, is second to none. Later raids became even more convoluted and entering, forcing us to push our teamwork to its limits.

Unfortunately, my fire team grew apart after a few years, but the memories live on. Destiny exposed me to a side of social gaming I had never experienced before. It allowed me to grow closer to my friends and make new ones online. This opened me up to more social games and aided me in making new friends. Games like CS:GO, Garry’s mod, PUBG, created social environments that allowed me to meet with the community and even some streamers.  My friends are also now a big part of my life. They have introduced PC building, modding games, and how to play more intellectually. Knowing callouts, and how to use certain weapons can be essential. part of some multiplayer games. Games have given me friendship and taught me that, no matter who you are, you can discover someone that will help.

Gaming has done more for me than most activities in life. It has provided salvation after a long day, lifelong friends, an appreciation for art, a unique way of thinking and self-reliance. Video games have more to offer than gameplay. Video games inspire, giving you the ability to feel like a badass and do things you couldn’t in real life. A lot of people merely see the surface value of video games. To this, I encourage you to pick up a controller and try one yourself.

Loren

Loren Breon sitting outside leaning against tree

Loren Breon

Hi, I’m Loren Breon, I will be interning with Quiet Nonsense to bring you the latest and greatest in games. I am currently a student at Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Majoring in Business. If you would like to contact me, follow my Instagram account @to_infinity_and_breon.