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Therapy in the Form of Final Fantasy VIII - Destructoid




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About
My name is Christopher Lage, I've been playing video games since I was a small child. The first this I can honestly remember is getting an NES for Christmas when I was 3 and playing the Mario Bros./Duck Hunt Game that came with it. Ever since I've been a gamer. I even spent a few years claiming to be "industry personnel" and it's gotten me into an E3 at a very reduced cost! (Thanks GameStop). Not to mention half of my wardrobe is free advertising for old games. I did work for the company as an assistant manager for three years and now I'm currently a security director for a shopping center.

What I'm currently playing:
New Super Luigi U (Wii U)
Pokemon X (3DS)
The Stanley Parable (PC)

What I'm waiting for:
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

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NOTE: This is just a reflective piece or work... sort of video game related. But not really. Just needed to get this off my chest, and if it connects with someone else who's going through the same things let me know we can help each other out maybe?

9.9.99 – The day that the culmination of Squaresoft's massive marketing campaign paid off. Final Fantasy VIII was released at the crossroads of my life. I was 13, in my first week of high school and struggling with my first bout of seasonal affective depression (SAD). While a common place in my life now and something that I sort of deal with; at the end of the last millennium it was devestating. The one thing that kept me sane, grounded was Final Fantasy VIII. Fast-forward to the year 2012 I'm a much different person than was was 13 years ago. I've been in several relationships, had different jobs, lived with different people, and had a plethora of experiences from Maine to California and beyond. While SAD has made an appearance in all of these “lives” I've had it just seemed to hit harder this year than ever and there was one thing that has been constant throughout all of it – Final Fantasy VIII. So I dusted off the old PSX and grabbed my copy to experience the story of the game protagonist I've connected to most of all – Squall Leonhart.



“Reality isn't so kind. Everything doesn't work out the way you want it to. That's why... As long as you don’t get your hopes up, you can take anything... You feel less pain.”

Playing through the game I've come to realize that the internal conflict Squall battles with mirrors much of my own, the only difference being I don't wield a gunblade. No I didn't grow up in an orphanage, nor did I have to deal with growing up on my own. However at the core both of us are introverts; regardless of the journey the destination was the same. Spending a majority of my time alone, by choice has cost me a lot of friendships and missed opportunity however it's comfortable. I don't need to worry about what other people think of me, or over think comments, looks, and the like directed towards me. Not to mention a few years back while in a relationship, the one very dear to me had left. It was crushing, I changed my job, I moved, and tried to distance myself from everyone and everything.

“Someday you're bound to lose everything. Everybody around will be gone. Then what are you left with? Nothing. Nobody... It's so miserable. And inevitable. It's so hard to recover from something like that. I never want to deal with that again. I can't. Even if it means being alone.”

It's been three years since then and I've begun to come out of my shell again. It's awkward, there's no rhyme or reason to it but just opening up to those around you can be difficult. I've spent some nights home alone but making a conscious effort to get out. In addition the introduction of alcohol to the social equation makes it a little easier. It feels like I live two lives, and they're trying to merge. It's an amazing balance act; one which questions my mental faculties at times. I know that the transition has and will continue to be difficult and it won't assimilate to my personality overnight but it's happening; slowly but surely. Am I happy about it? The truth is I have no idea. The person I am and the person I've yet to becoming will surely be different. And time heals all wounds, but it only takes the time of the year to re-open them.

Final Fantasy VIII absorbed 60-70 hours of my time during this fall and took my mind off itself when things seemed the darkest. Do I know the story inside and out, or where to acquire items for weapon sythesis, or where to draw/battle GFs? Of Course! But was it a boring experience? Absolutely not! It's just nice to know that you're never alone either in this life or a digital one. A character, avatar, or even another human being that you can relate to. If you learn some new things along the way its always a plus.



“To tell you the truth… I worry too much about what others think of me. I hate that side of me… That’s why I didn’t want anyone to get to know me. I wanted to hide that side of myself. I hate it. Squall is an unfriendly introverted guy. It made it easy for me when people perceived me that way. That’s a secret between you and me. Got that?”

Until next time Destructoid!
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