I have been playing video games all my life. I have slaughtered animated birds in Duck Hunter, jumped through paintings in Super Mario 64, and have destroyed cities as a monster in Rampage. Yet, despite all my gaming, I always saw playing video games as a mindless task to pass the time with family and friends as an opportunity to do something together that we would all enjoy. I would find myself restless and red-eyed after an hour and would often abandon the game to go do something else. My friends and brothers always poked fun at me for my inability to sit still and would make ADD jokes to further hammer home the point. Was I a loser for wanting to actually play sports rather than manipulate a two-dimensional athlete with a joystick? For years I perceived gamers as dweebs who could only be themselves through fictional characters on the television screen. This was my perception until one unfortunate day in November of 2001.
My brother returned home with a copy of this new game that everyone was raving about called Halo. I brushed it off figuring that it was just another average shooter which i would grow tired of quickly. Little did I know that this game would consume my life for the next 6 months. I started playing with my brother online and somehow this game felt different. I truly cared about master chief and his missions to preserve his planet from intruding aliens. I would find myself lost in the progressive story of the campaign mode; beating the game then immediately restarting on a higher level. The burn in my eyes no longer caused me to stop playing and i soon found myself cutting away from my other activities. Had i become a gamer? Was I spending my time the same way as those that I labeled losers? It took me months to come to the realization that I was addicted and to come to an ever deeper realization about gamers. Gamers are passionate about games just like athletes are passionate about sports and one is not better than the other. After 6 months of intense gaming, I realized I needed a break. I stopped playing Halo cold turkey and resumed my old life but with a new mindset. I had a new appreciation for gaming and a new respect for others even if their interests differed from mine.