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Persona avatar 7:34 AM on 12.01.2010  (server time)
Video Games: The Ultimate Escape

Disclaimer: This blog is NOT video game related so much as a story of my life, and how video games got me through the toughest times in it. Its kind of long, so for your listening pleasure while you read:

Most of you do not know me, and probably never will so I feel that I can be a little bit more honest in this outlet, then more accountable forms of social networking, you know, the ones that have a big fat picture of yourself on the frontpage, and your long lost 3rd cousin comments on everything you post for no reason? I have been going through a lot of trials and tribulations in my life recently, and as always video games have been my way to escape, a coping mechanism that gets me through lifes hard times.

I recently brought about my own demise at a job I hated at a Fortune 100 Insurance Company. I made a fairly good amount of money, and was more than able to support myself, but the stress was quite literally eating me alive. Selling property and casualty insurance (Home, Auto, Personal Umbrella, Boat, etc) was a very demanding and lucrative job, that I grew to hate, and thusly I decided to break one of the company policies on purpose until I eventually found myself in the unemployment line.

Why did I do this you ask?

Firstly, to cope with the stressful quota of how many sales I needed to produce, and the plethora of assholes I had to deal with in 36 different states, I started needing a high level of "Me" time. So much so that it was interfering with my real life. In order to escape from a job I hated, I would get home from work, and immediately fire up the PS3, and start playing games. Because I made a pretty reasonable amount of money, over the years it is safe to say that I have roughly spent over 10k on video games. I am not turning this into bragging rights, I am simply informing you of this so you have an idea of how much I love video games, and how much time they consume.

My name is Dan and I am a gay 25 year old male, who has a life partner, and after seven years in sales jobs of many kinds, all at good companies, and making more money and getting more recognition than most people get in a lifetime, I decided no more. I have no formal education to speak of other than what I learned in High School, which I was convinced was a complete waste of my time. As a child my teachers wanted to pull me out of primary school and have me immediately start taking college level courses. Being in third grade, and after having read several books on the psychological ramifications of what happens to the social lives of those who decide to make those kinds of decisions, I decided that I would stay with my peers in order to have a more normal life.

From left to right. Josh (my fiancee, myself, and some girl we met in Cancun)

Unfortunately my life was anything but. As a child my parents fought constantly. I was a mediator in a world of chaos that my pre adolescent mind could not absorb, and thusly many of my talents have gone to waste. Everything I have done in my life has been about running away from my past, and the biggest reason I let myself fail at my current job was in order to stop the cycle of hiding from what could potentially be a successful career in a field where I can actually help people.

My father was an abusive man, who indulged in many illegal activities. His father was never in his life: The moment his father found out he had become one, he ran. My dad never so much as recieved a birthday card from that man. My father's mother was tired of raising children by herself, and started to focus on her own life, and her new boyfriend which would ultimately eventually become her husband. Together they decided that my fathers psychological problems were too inconvienient, and they placed him in a Psychiatric facility from the time he was 14 until he was 18 years old. When he got out, he had no education, and no realistic understanding of society.

This is the only picture of my dad I could find, there are literally no pictures of us together that I can find.

He committed petty crimes, and was eventually sent to prison until he was 24. When he got out he married my mother, and one year after their marriage, I became the first born into a terrible situation. My father drank heavily to cope with the stress of his job that he hated, and could not overcome the terrible things that happened to him while institutionalized. Frankly, I never understood why my mother married him, as she had come from a very well to do family. My mother told me that he would lock himself alone in his room for days and not talk to her.

When I was 18 I came out as a homosexual, and my father started focusing his abusive behaivor from my mother to myself. I tried to continue living at home, but the stress of wondering if my father was going to kill me in my sleep, which he often threatened, lead me down a very dark path. So I lived on and off with my boyfriend, friends, and family members to avoid coming home as much as possible. I was suicidal, and to get away from my insane family I worked full time while attending a local community college. On top of all of this madness, I happen to have severe asthma, and as anyone who has that knows, adding insane amounts of stress caused from family problems, having to work to support yourself at the age of 18, and attempting to go to college simultaniously does not lead to a healthy combination.

My mom:

Eventually I started getting sick all the time. I failed a semester of college, I lost both of my jobs, and having no medical insurance because my father cut me off the moment he found out I was gay, I racked up quite a bit of debt. After six months of having major complications that almost killed me, I decided I couldn't "have it all." I decided that the responsible thing to do was work my ass off and pay back the money I owed to various hospitals, and doctors. This unfortunately meant I would no longer attend college, and for my own sanity, I decided to move out of my parents house permanently, which was a huge defeat to myself as I felt I was the only person protecting my mother from my father.

Being raised in the manner I was, I never realized what a normal childhood was, and I felt extremely guilty moving away and getting a real job. I worked my way to the top of every job I had very quickly, and the moment I had an obsticle I would find a better job that paid more money. After living on my own for a year I was promoted to a manager at a retail company, and was asked to move to Michigan to run a new store that was being built. To cope with the guilt of leaving my family I would occasionally drink, but since my father was an alcoholic and most of his rage in my opinion stemmed from that fact, I decided to focus my free time in a more constructive manner.

Brandon: A kid I used to mentor in Big Brothers, Big Sisters After School Program

Having moved away from everyone I knew, I played a lot of video games to kill my free time, as well as spending lots of time with my Siberian Husky, and dating, and working. My health improved drastically. Honestly as I look back on how insane my life has been there has always been one constant, video games. From the moment I had conciousness I was playing Atari. For my fifth birthday I got a Nintendo, which practically raised me. Nintendo lead to Super Nintendo, Sega, Playstation, Playstation 2, PSP, Computer Games, and Playstation 3. My games of choice being RPG's, particularly JRPG's where the characters rose above difficult situations and eventually toppled the corrupt governments that controlled their fragile existance and saved the world.

I consider myself very lucky that I never used drugs or other means to escape from my cruel reality.

In March of 2009 my father passed away. The recession was in full swing and I left a very profitable operation that I was running in Michigan to move back home and support my Mother, and help put her life back together after 25 years of marriage to my father that made her a codependant mess. I took the first job I could find, and for the first time in my life I worked at a job where no matter what I did, I could not make the profit books balance, and after only 3 months, I was fired. Which is why you should NEVER ever work for a failing jewelry store in a fledgling economy.

My dog Kiba

While I was unemployed I wrote a 250 page book entitled "The Missing Piece" about my experiences with my father, which I have yet to look into publishing. I will most likely not do anything with it until my Mother passes away, as she harbors many delusions. Having no viable source of income other than 350$ / week that I got from unemployment, and having recently moved back to Chicago I could not sustain my independent existance any longer. While I was in Michigan I dated a great guy that I fell in love with, and after only being with me for six months he made the difficult decision to uproot his life and move to Chicago with me. We both currently live with my mother and her boyfriend at this point in time.

After being unemployed for 3 months I found the job that I mentioned at the beginning, and worked there for a year. All that time due to economic circumstances I decided not to move out, just incase there was a double dip in the recession that could have left me jobless again, and having no source of income and a lease in Chicago is a death warrant for your credit. Having worked there for a year, I came to the relevation that I hated all the jobs I had ever done, because the only reason I ever did them was out of necessity. My Mom told me that I could quit my job, and that she would help pay for school with some of the money she got when my father passed away. So as of last month my evil plan of getting fired at my job succeeded, and am in limbo waiting for Unemployment to notify me if my benefits have been approved.

Just incase you ran out of music:

I plan on getting a part time job, and collecting my unemployment benefits until they expire. I quit college with only needing 20 more credit hours to attain my associates in Science. On Jan 10th, 2010 I will be back to attending school full time, and with the 15 credit hours I am taking this semester, and one or two summer courses I will be transfering my Associates degree to a four year institution and will be finishing what I started when I was 18 years old. At this current point in time I plan on going into Pre-Medicine.

This is the second time in my life that I have had a substancial block of free time, as I was solely responsible for taking care of myself up until this point, thusly giving me more free time to write and play video games, and though I originally started playing games to run away from my life, they now serve as a healthy use of my time in conjunction with working, school, writing, volunteering, and my very fulfilling relationship with my soon to be husband (if all goes well Civil Unions for same sex marriages will be legal in IL in July of 2011) and my dog Kiba, both who have gotten me through an equal number of hardships.

From left to right
Cousin Mike, Fiancee Josh, Me, Brother Jake, and Brother Pat

...and this time, they are not merely an escape mechanism to avoid how terrible my life is. They have evolved into what I consider a constructive use of my time as I don't really watch television - at least it is slightly more engaging.

In conclusion the purpose of this particular piece of writing is to say goodbye to my old self, the one who worked at jobs he hated because he had to, and get a little bit more personal and involved with the Destructoid community.

Wish me luck!

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