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
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
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.