In elementary school, I was diagnosed with ADHD.
Most of you are aware of ADHD. Hyperactivity and difficulty focusing were my primary symtoms. I was nuts as a kid, bouncing off walls and going crazy were common feats for me. But I was also diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
Asperger's is a form of autism. It is a somewhat minor form of it though. While many well-known forms of autism affects people physically, Asperger's focuses primarily on social interaction.
ADHD and Asperger's alone were bad enough, but when combined they became a massive hurdle in my learning process. I had to go to a private school in the 5th grade, and stayed in private schooling for almost 5 years. During that time the only social interaction with my local peers became Boy Scouts, a hobby I excelled in (I ended up earning the Eagle Rank) but that was a minor part of my social life. I had made new friends at my private schools, but midway through my freshman high school year, I returned to the public schools. But those five years had taken their toll.
Asperger's makes me have trouble interacting. I had trouble maturing mentally. Even at the age of 14 or 15, I had maturity of a pre-teen. Of course, this had its advantages. I had a better appreciation for the downsides of things like drugs and alcohol. I did a better job of staying out of serious trouble. It gave me greater resolve for my goals. It also ended up being the base for my love of Nintendo, almost to a worrying degree. I was a hardcore Nintendo fanboy. I grew up gaining a greater appreciation for the wholesomeness of Nintendo games, while others wouldn't go near them ("THOSE GAMES ARE GAY", etc.) Games practically became a second religion; Mario, Zelda and Metroid were the holy trinity.
But after all that, eventually my ability to do school work had become satisfactory, and I was deemed prepared to return to my local schools. Friends I knew from Boy Scouts were still there; I don't know how I'd get by without Bufar
being the nerd I could lean on. But even though I made new friends, I quickly realized the gap that formed while I was away. Oh sure, I could do my schoolwork fine, (I only once failed a class, but it wasn't even enough to fail me for the year.) but I was totally out of place everywhere else. This was a world unknown. It was a world of danger, of mischief and debauchery. Oh I tried to join in, but every time I did, I stuck out like Gordon Freeman on a radio talk show. I misunderstood what went on. I felt uncomfortable.
Going out and partying doesn't make me happy. I tried sports, the root of all evil. Gave track and field a shot, but I was horrible. While the rest of them learned better physical habits like exercise, I had learned new, less body-reliant activities. I couldn't even get into school functions, the pep rallies, the school dances, the football games. This wasn't fun to me. Even with the friends I did have, things rarely got far. I'd go over to their houses to play Rock Band every once in a while; we'd talk on the internet about things. That was as far as things went however. I just went in different directions than everyone else.
Unfortunately, part of this was the Asperger's Syndrome. I have trouble with things like tone of voice. I get excited and interested in a conversation and the tone of my voice gets louder without me even noticing it. I have trouble telling sarcasm from normal conversation. In the end, outside of the few friends I have, I'm something of a social outcast.
I ended up returning to my games. This was one constant I was familiar with. After a day slowly stumbling through school. I would sit down, pop in Mario, and all of a sudden, everything disappeared. My work was no longer an issue. My hometown became Hyrule. The adventures in the park became adventures in Zebes. I didn't need to go to the movies, I could play Viewtiful Joe and be IN the movie. This was familiar. This was something I understood. Yeah I wasn't very good with real life, but I didn't need
it. Sean Corey wrote an editorial
on the very subject, and at this point I realized why I love games so much. Because even though I can't go out and be social like everyone else, I still have one place that I can call home.
Is this a crutch? Maybe. Maybe I'm not very competent. Maybe I'm doomed to live like this. Or maybe not. Now in between my freshman year of college and my sophmore year, I'm trying to improve. I'm trying to learn golf. I've got a job that provides me with decent money. I'm trying to broaden my horizons. And if it wasn't for this, I wouldn't have found Destructoid. I wouldn't have become very good friends with those who like to use the Steam group chat, I wouldn't have found about all the awesome things that gaming can provide. And I learned that gaming isn't a lifestyle. Its a hobby. Its a place where I can sit back after a hard day's work and relax. I can find my little bit of nirvana. But its a place I can't stay forever.
I don't mean to sound like I'm the most miserable person on the planet right now. I know that the last eight paragraphs make me sound like the stereotypical nerd that you see on television when the writers are to lazy to realize that we're not all people living in our parents' basement shunning all other forms of life, but I've accomplished a lot in the 19 years I've been on this planet so far, and I have every intention to keep going. But I probably wouldn't have reached this point if it weren't for games. They helped me get through the hard times and I'm glad they existed.
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