Video games are targeted by politicians and big media everyday through TV, internet, and print. Video games are still blamed for the ills of society, from everyday violence to school shootings. First, Mortal Kombat was blamed for violence, then it was Doom being blamed for school shootings, but now video games are just blamed for anything bad. Politicians and groups attacking video games focus so much on the lives they claim video games end, however, that they completely gloss over the lives video games have saved. Now, before you think this is already an embellished or unlikely scenario, stop and think about society and poverty. The typical, healthy kid lives a life balanced by family, school, outdoor activities and/or sports. To some, this may be commonplace, or it may seem obvious, but for others, it's a far cry from reality. That reality is the result of families with weak foundations destroyed by alcohol, drugs, and violence.
Against The Odds
Video Games
"You Showed Me...

The horror of alcohol and drug-induced violence tears through homes, leaving despair and poverty in its wake. Some kids live in poverty, teetering on the brink of homelessness. Some are from broken homes that are intermittently stable, with every new day bringing new worries of where home will be next. The reality of not knowing where you will live the same time tomorrow is crushing. Constantly switching schools fuels hatred and violence from bullying and fighting. At a young age, the heart is filled with rage toward an uncontrollable world racing in chaos.

For youth whose everyday life is one of these harsh realities of broken families and homes, video games can be a driving factor in their life. It can be the one thing that they look forward to, the one thing that keeps them going from day to day. The games they like can be driving factors in making them push on, day after day, even if their life is falling apart, piece by piece.

I was one of these kids. As Los Angeles-based hardcore rock band Terror puts it, "from a broken home, I was thrown straight into this world" of being "raised in unemployment lines, a product of domestic crimes." Video game arcades were always my sanctuary from the grim realities of home, and I never wanted to leave them. It was video games that gave me hope. For that short amount of time I was with them, I was able to dull the pain of everything going on. We didn't have much money, so I wasn't always able to actually play them, but I would watch the demo sequences. To this day, I still remember demo sequences for a lot of games, and even still watch them for new games. I believe I'm the only person I know who watches these things. The 8-Bit Nintendo burst onto the scene, and I played it wherever I could.

Then, one day, my mom somehow was able to get me a Nintendo for Christmas. It was in a shoebox. I don't know how she did it, but it would change my life forever, and eventually save it. She worked hard to provide for me by herself. Maybe she knew this would be something for me to look forward to, and, more importantly, something that would keep me out of trouble. Fights at school still raged on as we moved from place to place, but at home and in the neighborhood, my behavior was better. Video games ruled my thoughts at home, so I didn't have such a strong urge to try dumb shit that would get me in trouble. All I wanted to do was play games, games, and more games. Dangerous shit was tempting, but never to the point where it led to stays in juvenile detention facilities like my idiot classmates. Keep in mind that these were the types who were pieces of shit then, and still are now; they're either dead, in the hospital, or in jail. I got in trouble sometimes, but when I could, I was inside playing video games while those assholes were outside getting in serious trouble.

Without a doubt, trouble was a part of my youth. The places I lived, the shit I saw; it all worked as a negative continuum that nearly swallowed me. Video games helped even things out, though, always keeping me from seconds from making decisions that would have sealed my fate completely. When I got the urge to do bad shit, or felt like I was going to, I'd step back and retreat to video games because I knew they would keep me out of trouble. Of course, arcades were hotbeds for fighting, and I succumbed to its allure, but overall, video games still kept me from getting into even more trouble. I could have gotten into even more trouble if I wasn't so into video games, and then I'd be in jail, or be a worthless piece of shit like most of my high school.

...A Better Way"

My love for games never waivered or faltered, and I always remained die-hard. Even in high school when I started to burn the candle at both ends, video games pulled me back. When everyone was out doing shit that would surely land them in jail sooner or later, I drew the line and went back to what I knew: video games. Fighting was still happening at that time, but video games were still an effective deterrent. Why? Because video games kept me inside and off the streets where trouble would somehow find me. I also knew that if I got into too much trouble and went to jail, I wouldn't be able to play them. This (and being raped) is what kept me out of jail. I couldn't risk not being able to play all of the new, upcoming games. It was then that I really started to appreciate games not just as being fun, but as being a form of art. This was yet another aspect of games that kept me off the streets and inside, devoting my time toward something positive. Much like music, video games can save someone's life.

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