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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Do A Barrel Roll!

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The curious effect of gaming

I've been finding myself listening to Brentalfloss, a chap on YouTube who has made name for himself by adding lyrics to classic game melodies. As much as I destroyed the value of nostalgia a few weeks ago, it seems my current existential crisis is driving me more and more toward my memories for some sort of relief from the worries of adulthood. In light of this, listening to young master Floss sing about Bubble Man's feelings on fighting Mega Man is staving off the encroaching insanity from planning a wedding and a life with my future wife. It's like the best parts of my childhood are gathering their strength to help me in this war we call 'moving on with your life.'

How could video games have this kind of an effect on my psyche, you ask?

Well, as Ricky Ricardo would say, I got some 'splainin' to do.

Video gaming isn't just a hobby, it's a culture. It gets in your blood, just like baseball, basketball, football and family businesses, carves its way into your heart, and you get a little smile remembering times spent with your favorite games. How many of you have ever walked out onto a Little League field and reminisced about your childhood games? How many of you have watched your kid's soccer game, and you blink, and for a split second, you're still out there, playing with such passion and single-minded joy?

Geeks have similar reminiscences. Honestly, talk to a geek about their first computer. About their first game system. About their first technological jury rig that worked (or didn't). You'll see that same faraway look in our eyes, that smile, that deep breath followed by a fond sigh. That's us out on our field again.

For instance, I'll never forget the day that my brother Nick brought home a Super Nintendo. He made me stay in our room until he had it all set up downstairs. I almost exploded with joy that day. Once again, we found ourselves helping our sister Ami play through another 'Legend of Zelda' game, a collaborative effort that made me feel the same amount of pride as if I'd finished the game myself. The hours Nick and I logged on 'NBA Jam,' 'NHL Stanley Cup' and 'NCAA Basketball' brought us closer together.

And all this is just a fraction of the memories.

So you have to understand something about me, something I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt:

When video gaming today is widely viewed as a waste of time, a loss of brain cells, a blight on the face of humanity, a murder simulator and the bane of all existence, people wonder why I get so upset and have tendency to go off in its defense. It's not because the hours of 'Halo' have rotted my cerebellum to the point that I'm naught but an angry powderkeg waiting to go off. It's not because the lifetime I've logged in 'World of Warcraft' has made me unable to function with normal society. It's not even that playing the excruciatingly difficult 'Demon's Souls' has destroyed all human decency in me.

You see, dear reader, gaming is so intertwined with my life that when you say anything about it, it's like insulting my family and friends. It's like saying that all these memories were wasted time that I could have been doing something better with my time - and maybe, just maybe, that's true. But if you watch me, my family and friends, all being united under this simple hobby, you might just get a glimpse of why I hold it so dear.

I'm proud of who I am, I'm proud to be a geek, a gamer, a friend and a brother. I'm proud of how games have been a part of my life and how they've brought so many incredible people into my life under one common interest. And those memories, these values I hold, I bring with me into my new life, into adulthood and, eventually, parenthood. While gaming doesn't define me as a person, its effect on me and the people I hold dear has already shaped me for life.

Aaron Waite finally has a computer that can run 'DOOM' on its highest settings!


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