I’ve been a gamer since I could hold a controller, and when I had a kid I was adamant to not really force her into gaming but to let it be organic. Then, in 2018, she started to really get into it. It fueled many a long gaming history discussion, let me tell you. No really, let me.
So, my daughter and I have always been tied together at the hip. However, I always let her choose her passions and hobbies. Bella has always been about reading, music, writing and very into movies. Gaming was always a fun once-in-awhile thing we did together, but it was always in brief bursts. Sometimes she’d see me playing an MMO of some kind, she’d jump in with me and then go about her life. I let it happen, just excited to share those incandescent moments with her where I could share a thing I loved.
Well, then Resident Evil 5 happened.
Now, it’s important to note that I obsessed wildly over Resident Evil 5. Not as a Resident Evil game, true to its survival horror roots, but as a co-op game that I had a lot of fun with. Memorizing maps and digging through games is fun to me, so she saw me playing that game a LOT. Then, one day, she asked if she could play as my co-op partner. Granted, she was a teenager at this point, so it’s not like I was sitting a tiny kid down with a horror game. Taking on the role of Sheva, Bella just kind of came to life. She loved my attention to detail and I loved the fact she was ALWAYS down for the chaos. I learned that she loves executing a good strategy, working together to get to a goal. That’s pretty great, right? Sure, she’d get a bit huffy if she felt she wasn’t putting in her best, but thankfully I got her to ease up on that. Games are games. It’s okay if you mess up because you can just give it another shot.
Within 2018, she started leaning into gaming more and not just with me. Heck, she realized she loved team-based horror games such as Friday the 13th and Dead by Daylight and became so good at them that I wondered if I dare play alongside her. I loved watching Bella dig into the details, studying skills and making builds in games that worked best for her play style. We slid into games like Monster Hunter World, Grand Theft Auto V and essentially hang-out games, as we called them. If we could goof off and handle challenges and quests together, Bella was into it and she became the all-time best co-op partner ever.
What happened last year that really ignited her gaming love was her depression and the fact it would make her lean into the comfort of hiding under blankets with movies and books. This was something she’d catch herself doing, however, and instead she’d boot up a game. See, I’ve always suggested to her that she should shut that voice in her brain down that says “Why bother?” and all of those other sadness inducing lies your brain tells you. Easier said than done for many, but gaming worked on her to close out the thoughts that would plague her when depression would try to coil its fingers around her empathy-addled brain. Stories and stepping into the shoes of a character meant she was silencing her own inner monologue. I remember watching her reach for the controller during a rough day and I just watched. Soon, her soft and meek tones turned into excitement as she followed along with Far Cry 5’s incredibly interesting story.
Destiny 2 was when I realized she was absolutely obsessed with gaming just as I was. She started digging in deeper to more games, more experiences. They started to translate into her own creativity, making her write more and seek out things aside from her teenage comfort zones. Bella was soon getting into Destiny 2 Looking for Group Discord channels, making friends and learning more about herself through gaming and its communities. Even though she’s nearly eighteen, I was constantly watching every moment and making sure she handled the Internet safely and what/where to avoid. She didn’t need me though. Bella was off and running.
Through all of this, she found an interest in older retro games and where it started. It had me in awe because I recall never really knowing a life without video games. My Mother was quite literally ontop of every game and console, every new PC title on those ridiculous floppy discs. To me, I’ve never known another deep love in hobby form quite like this, so to see my daughter step into it had me thinking quite a lot. I was lucky, you know? I spent decades entrenched in it but I also felt like I never got to discover it quite like Bella did in 2018. To see someone light up over a story, jump out of their chair and even weep very real tears over the loss of characters is something so very visceral. It’s something a lot of us are somewhat desensitized to because we’ve been in these streets for so long. To watch my child truly discover gaming and in the way that I have, well, it has been surreal.
Looks like I’m going to have to drag this girl to E3 one of these years.
For me, I doubt I’ll ever stop loving gaming to a near relationship-level intensity, but it’s nice to know I can turn my head and give a nod to my kid who will loft up a controller and be ready to go. We share this together now. Not a lot of parents get that kind of connection with their child, so I count myself incredibly lucky that we have this. It’s not taking apart cars and it’s not learning how to make a birdhouse — but we can do a speed run of Resident Evil 5 that would make your head spin.