This article is a guest submission from NemesisN1derboy.
I’m a person who likes to write. When I’m bored, feeling down or feeling stressed out, I like to sit at my laptop/PC and write about something. The other day, I was thinking of something to write, but I had a case of writer’s block. Then something clicked, the penny dropped and I decided to write about this. The following article is about a story and situation very close to my heart and it may be distressing to some.
I’m going to talk about how I got into gaming, and what gaming really means to me.
Not many of you will know this, as not many know me, but when I was young, about 6, my second sister was born. It was a joyous occasion for all, as you could imagine. Unfortunately, she got sick. Really sick. It took the hospital about a year to figure out that she had childhood AML. For those who don’t know, AML stands for Acute Myelogenous Leukaemia and is a cancer of the bone marrow. It is possibly the worst form of Leukaemia a person can get. Due to it taking so long for her to get diagnosed, and because AML is the fastest progressing form of Leukaemia, she was given a 10% chance of survival.
As you can imagine, a lot of time was spent running in and out of the hospital, late nights and early mornings, constant check-ups and only ever really having one parent at home at any stage. It was hard. But it was in Our Lady’s Hospital for sick children in Crumlin where I discovered gaming.
That was only the beginning, and gaming on the Mega Drive soon turned into being awestruck while playing the Playstation. As regular followers of the nuTSAck Podcast will know, the first game I played on the PS1 was Spyro the Dragon. This was a huge moment for me. If playing the Mega Drive was the fuel for the start of my gaming life, playing Spyro was the god-damn flamethrower. The 3D graphics, the voice acting, the sheer range of colours. My mind was blown all over again. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I got my first games console, the PS1, when I was about 8, with Spyro the Dragon and Formula One. I no longer had to go to the Playroom in Our Lady’s hospital to play this amazing technology. Then, along came Final Fantasy. The first Final Fantasy game I played was Final Fantasy VIII. I put more time into that game than a 9-year-old ever should. My parents weren’t happy with the amount of gaming I did, but I didn’t care. They didn’t understand. They still don’t to this day.
Everything was going great; I had games, friends and a newly healthy sister. She had beaten the monster inside her against all odds. As if in response to this new-found joy in the family, it all came tumbling down again. When I was about 12, my sister, then 6, was once again diagnosed with Leukaemia. This time, it was CML, or Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia. Although not as bad as AML, it was still going to be a miracle if she pulled through a second time. I just didn’t happen.[drop2]It was back to the hospital, back to the grandparents’ and back to that playroom. By this time, I had moved on to the PS2. I drifted from playroom to hospital room and back to playroom every time I was there. I suppose it was a method of escapism, something to take my mind off what was happening. I still didn’t fully understand it, not like I do now anyway, but I knew something wasn’t right, that my sister was very sick and that it was going to be a long road to recovery for her. Playing Final Fantasy X in that playroom, in my bedroom and in my grandparents did just that. It helped me to escape. At that time I was also being bullied in school, so the situation with my sister and the low self-esteem led to me being holed up a lot. Again, games, to me, were used as a method of escapism. They transported me to these fantastical worlds, where I wasn’t me, where all the horrible stuff going on didn’t exist. Where I was alone.
As time went on, my sister got better. We had our scares, but it was going well. My sister was getting chemotherapy less and less, and I visited that playroom less and less. A few months later, it was over. She had beaten it for the second time, against all odds. Five years on, she received the all clear, as in the cancer will never return, in August of 2010. The family had a party to celebrate; it was the most emotional experience I had ever witnessed in my life. To see her, 12 years old now, healthy and going strong, knowing that the horror that was inside her was gone forever, was just…astounding and amazing. I have never felt so much pride in my life. As I was watching my dad address the extended family and thank them, tears in each and every single person’s eyes, I couldn’t help but revisit that old memory of the first time I laid eyes on a gaming machine, because I knew that if it wasn’t for gaming, I would have broke down during the time, whether I understood fully why or not.
So that’s what gaming means to me, my first experiences shown. It is a memory that will be stuck in my mind for the rest of my life, but if I had one wish, just one, I would wish that I never had to see that god-damned playroom ever again. In memory or otherwise.
As you can imagine, this was a very hard piece to write, sparked by aerobes competition thread in the forum, and I hope nobody ever has to go through what my family went through.
Sound off in the comments below and share your gaming memories and experiences.