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 My coping with post-accident trauma has had good days, bad days, and really effing awfully horrible days over the past few years. Ebbing and flowing around the wholly separate calendar of physical pain I have the delight of experiencing, the mental strain has been... Well... It's been an interesting experience. Where I could almost assuredly roll over any social situation, manhandle any decision, and be assertive in all things, now I have moments (sometimes days) where I'm just experiencing crippling despair and/or terrible panic. It's been hard not only for being difficult feelings to manage but also just for the fact that I feel lesser. I am unable to fight where I was once so strong. I've changed. That's not to say I won't get better, because that's where all the struggle I've been engaging with fits in, but I will likely never be quite the same again. Therefore I need to figure out how to take the pieces in my daily puzzle and rearrange them to fit again.

Now let's talk about video games. They're a thing that I do. One might call them a hobby. Turns out they also fill me with a great deal of stress. I have spent the larger part of the past few years fairly active with Xbox stuff. I got involved in the Ambassador program, did some light tech support and enforcement, got pretty deep into the community, and played a ton of hot current gen games... And finished almost none of them. One game I got super deep into was Destiny. I came off of over a decade of MMO obsession and Destiny really filled a niche for a style of interaction that I craved paired with a really fun action loop. Destiny, too, pulled me into social groups with the hope of coordinating with others to tackle challenging cooperative... er... challenges. 

I basically ended up doing none of that. While I actually, honestly did have fun playing the game, I was constantly pressuring myself, subtly, to hook up with hopefully cool strangers to do this hard group content. It eventually got to a point where I would just... Be afraid to get online because I needed the situation to be just right mentally for me to play with others with that much commitment. In the rare case where someone summoned me to participate, chances are I was not feeling up to it. This constant cycle of being the girl eager to date but constantly staying home to do my hair just created this ball of bad that grew inside me. It eventually swelled... Swole? Swull? to swallow everything about gaming on that particular platform. I just... Kinda got sick of it all. Games weren't fun anymore. They were all big sweeping epic commitments with deep, intriguing stories or deep progression hooks. I wanted them all but could barely handle committing to one.

I had to get out of it. So I did. As part of my healing process I uninstalled Destiny, put it all back into it's box, and placed the seal over the Xbox. I used the shinto paper strip thing and everything. It now sits to the side of my desk, available for my husband to use, waiting only for the final episode of Life Is Strange for us both to enjoy, and to be used as a media input for my laptop. The game device I have turned to for healing has been the Wii U.

Simple, fun, cheery. It's a toy for children and man-children. It doesn't have a mountain of games I crave but it has just enough of that first party magic that brings me this eternal, dependable comfort. Having Mario, Yoshi, and Peach right there is just this warm, soft blanket I can wrap around myself. It's cathartic, soothing, and still fun. It's engaging for me to play Mario Maker or Splatoon but it still feels like a safe place. Even competitive games like Splatoon and Smash Bros. still give me the safe place bubble while putting a little something on the line. 

There have been many times in my life, even leading up to the accident, where I'd explored new things, sometimes to no avail. Now, however, I find that the familiar is more necessary than ever. The Nintendo Wii U is not a strong competitor to the PS4 or Xbox. I may occasionally feel jealousy for things on those platforms but the Wii U has become a safe dollhouse I can shrink into and live. Nintendo gives me all the happy feels. Mario and Isabelle are always my friends and when I need to wrap myself away from everything they're there for me now. It's a wonderful, weird thing and I'm glad I made the switch to doing what makes me feel comfortable and safe from what was potentially exciting but was smothered in a hot coat of obligation and uneasiness.

I'm done risking my comfort for the sake of some perceived personal fantasy. I'm taking the sure thing from now on. My play is for me now and that's okay. It's perfectly okay.

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Mark Bradley

October 2015

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