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Wolfy-Boey avatar 7:23 PM on 04.18.2011  (server time)
What Videogames can do to you

What does it mean?

The very first time I experienced a game I got stuck.

I was stuck not because I found it too difficult or complex. No, I wasn┤t even to begin the game let alone be confused by it. I couldn┤t get past the title screen, and for one simple reason. I couldn┤t understand what it wanted me to do. I found the simple command to PRESS START incomprehensible for one simple reason, I just didn┤t understand English.

The truth is I┤m an Arab. I was born in Lebanon, Beirut on the 5th of February in 1991. Obviously, being born in an Arab country means that my native language is, of course, Arabic. As such my first experience with videogames consisted of me staring at a bright screen, doing absolutely nothing. But I had heard great tales from others, of the great wonders that the Mushroom Kingdom held, and the beautiful landscapes of the Green Hill Zone and I yearned to explore these fabulous worlds. I persisted, and pretty soon I managed to memorize a few repetitious words (loading, continue, start etc...). However, I only truly became obsessed with gaming when we finally got a PC into our home. And this when things started to change.


As I grew older, so did my passion for games, and pretty soon just playing the damn game wasn┤t enough. All the worlds I had seen and explored had characters and backgrounds to them. I wanted to know them all, and nothing was going to stop me! What was professor oak babbling on about in PokÚmon Red? Does "Get Over Here" mean awesome spear rope? Who was this mysterious princess? Why is she always in another castle? And what the hell is a "Yoshi"?

More and more questions arose, and in due time I managed to find answers. I yearned to unlock the meaning of what I could only presume were symbols. So I did what any kid would do, I asked my parents. Luckily, my mother was an English teacher at an an instituion, so help wasn┤t too far out of reach. But it wasn┤t enough, for my mother was too busy to indulge me whenever I wanted. So I began to delicately observe and study, with each spoken word I would carefully moniter the immediate actions and reactions of all characters.

Finally, my adamant determination payed off, and pretty soon I began to learn.

I managed to learn that Charizard wasn┤t hitting himself because he was an idiot, but because he was confused. Link wasn┤t a douchebag who just harassed chickens and killed monsters, he was the hero trying to find the tri-force to save Hyrule. And Yoshi turned out to be, well... A dinosaur name Yoshi.

This accurately displays my grasb of english back then

And as my understanding of this language expanded, so did the diversity of my games. I began to try out new games in genres I would of never dared to try out before. I dared to play adventure games, a genre which hugely relied on story for entertainment. The Curse of Monkey Island became my all time favorite game, and sparked a new interest within me. Through my new found enthusiasm for rich, deeper storylines, I came to play such classics such as Metal Gear Solid, Tail Concerto, Resident Evil, Half-Life and many more.

And my love for all things PokÚmon also led me to watching it┤s TV series which subsequently led me to watch even more Television cartoons and series. I began to watch cartoon network on a daily basis and I have fond memories of Dexter's Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog and Samurai Jack. By then, my vocabulary, enunciation and grammar had all reached a point where I no longer had any troubles with English at all. I could read, write and speak the language with relative ease. I had exposed myself to it for so much, and for so long, that it had become almost second nature.

Words. I know them.

And here I am today, once a child who never knew how to get past a title screen, now a man writing a blog. I┤d like to believe that I┤ve become quite proficient in this language. And yet I was never actually educated in this language. I was in a French school, and yet I am better in English.

We┤ve all heard many people speak of the negative impacts of videogames and what they can do to us. Ironically enough, if it weren┤t for said games I would have never understood what they were saying. Although, I still don┤t know what the hell they┤re talking about.

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